Oct. 5, 2022 By Christian Murray
Several elected officials joined residents of a NYCHA complex in Flushing Tuesday to call on the agency to immediately restore gas service in dozens of units that has been down for months.
The residents in one building at Bland Houses, located at 133-20 Roosevelt Ave., have been without cooking gas since the beginning of May, when it was shut off due to a leak in the main line. Since then, residents have been forced to rely on hot plates and crock pots for all of their cooking needs.
Council Member Sandra Ung, Congress Member Grace Meng, State Senator John Liu and Assemblyman Ron Kim held a press conference at the complex calling for service to be restored.
“It is unconscionable that rent-paying tenants in the Bland Houses have been without gas for the last five months,” Ung said. “My office has heard directly from residents with elderly parents who have dietary needs that are going unmet and affecting their health because they can’t fully cook in their own homes. NYCHA needs to be honest with residents, offer solutions, and release a timeline for the immediate restoration of gas service.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng said that her office had worked with NYCHA two years ago when several tenants at Bland Houses had no gas for months. She demanded answers and urged for service to be restored immediately.
“This lack of gas service is unacceptable and needs to be fixed immediately,” Meng said. “The hard-working, rent-paying residents of the Bland Houses should not be forced to endure this problem for all these months. Having working gas in their apartments is essential, and they deserve better.”
Liu said NYCHA needs to provide residents of Bland Houses with a timetable for when gas service will be restored.
“After months of inadequate solutions, the residents of Bland Houses deserve an upfront accounting and timetable for when they can expect the restoration of their gas,” Liu said. “It is unacceptable for anyone to live without this basic housing necessity for this long.”
Bridget Marachlian, the president of Bland Houses Tenants Association, was blunt and demanded answers.
“NYCHA, why are you dragging your feet? Let’s have transparency, what are we waiting for?” Marachlian said. “Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and I already know we are not going to have gas. We need our gas back on.”
NYCHA did not provide the Queens Post with a timeline as to when gas will be restored, although the agency said the interruption affected 80 apartments and is not a quick fix.
“Gas service interruptions and restoration work are a matter of public safety, involving multiple partners and steps, including shutting off the gas service and making the necessary repairs and inspections,” a spokesperson for NYCHA said in a statement.
NYCHA also made clear that the gas service interruptions affect cooking gas only and don’t affect heat or hot water.
Service has been down due to multiple factors, NYCHA said.
“This outage at Bland Houses was due to a leak found off the main line into the building, and a broken stack in the basement that caused sewage flooding conditions needed to be repaired before the asbestos work could commence,” the NYCHA spokesperson said. “Asbestos work was completed in the beginning of September, and we are in the permitting phase of restoration prior to construction. We have been keeping residents informed of the restoration timeline through weekly meetings and have distributed hot plates and slow cookers to residents.”
NYCHA is also facing heavy criticism for heating outages at its Woodside Houses complex, where many residents have been living without regular heat and hot water since August 2021.
Several elected officials held a press conference Wednesday morning outside the complex calling for service to be restored.