One resident of the Bland Houses in Queens is a nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital. She works on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis, only to return home to an apartment that's been without cooking gas for four months. She asked that we not identify her.
“Why can’t I go home and cook a full course meal,” said the resident.
Several residents tell NY1 there was a gas leak at the public housing complex at the end of February, but that when it was fixed — and at least 20 apartments lost gas service.
“It’s just very inconvenient. I pay my rent every month,” said Bruce Johnson, a resident of the Bland Houses. “It’s just not right. We’re people too. Just because we’re in the projects doesn’t mean that we’re not allowed to get that attention. We’re people. We live here.”
Johnson says Housing Authority workers blamed the pandemic for the delays. NYCHA provided affected resident with hot plates, but Johnson says the appliances are inadequate.
“It takes an extra two hours to cook a meal,” said Johnson.
The majority of the residents living without gas are seniors — like Miriam Turino. In addition to her fears about contracting COVID-19, she's concerned she’s not getting proper nutrition because she can’t cook at home.
“I can’t eat. I have anemia, I have a lot of problems internally,” said Turino.
Congresswoman Grace Meng said her office has been working with NYCHA and Con Edison for weeks trying to help speed up repairs. She says so far, there is no resolution in sight.
“The average New Yorker and my constituent should not have to suffer the red tape and the bureaucratic obstacles that come in the way of feeding their families, especially during the coronavirus,” said Meng.
A NYCHA spokeswoman says restoring gas service involves multiple partners and steps, including shutting off the gas, making the repairs, and having a Buildings Department inspection.
She did not say why this would take four months and counting but that the agency is now in the construction phase of the work and there is no estimated restoration date. Con Ed did not immediately respond to our request for comment.