Bed-Stuy Building Has No Heat for At Least 17 Years, Residents Say
BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Residents of an affordable housing building in Bed-Stuy say their management company has only just begun restoring heat to their apartments— eight years after taking over the building.
Residents of 305 Decatur St., a Section 8 building in Bed-Stuy, say they've lived without heat since before their management company, Shinda Management Corp., took over the building in 2005, but that the company has dragged its feet in fixing the problem after gaining control, while also locking their laundry and public rooms.
Even neighbors who have had their heat restored with baseboard heating, like Collette Wright, have had to fight, the 55-year-old resident said.
"For me to have a decent place to live, warm, secure," Wright said. "That's a basic human right, and Shinda deprived me of that right over and over."
After years of complaints, Wright's new heating system was finally installed in August. Three other residents of 305 Decatur St. confirmed to DNAinfo New York that they were told by Shinda their heat would soon be installed, though as of Tuesday the tenants still did not have baseboard heating.
Wright, a tenant activist who has lived in the building since 1996, said this will be the first winter she's had heat since moving in.
"You dread every winter," Wright said. "Have you ever been so cold that you're under your covers and you feel the cold on your eyeballs?"
A representative from Shinda declined to comment.
A 2007 letter from the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development discussed a loan program, in which Shinda would, among other fixes to the property, replace the boilers of 305 Decatur St. and other Shinda-owned buildings in order to improve the heating systems. The work was slated to begin in January of 2008.
But five years after the planned replacement, some residents are still feeling the chill.
Wright said she reached out to Congressman Hakeem Jeffries' office earlier this year to help fix the problem. Representatives from Jeffries' office confirmed that they worked with Shinda and HPD to help solve the problem.
"Apparently heat has been unevenly distributed based on the large volume variances in the sizes of different apartments," an HPD official said in a Sep. 18 letter.
Jeffries' office also put Wright in touch with Shinda in order to negotiate a possible opening to the building's laundry and public rooms, which were closed due to "drug activity." The rooms were still locked as of Tuesday.
The complaints at 305 Decatur St. aren't the first against the management company. In 2008, the U.S. Postal Service stopped delivering mail to 477 Gates Ave., a Shinda-owned building, because the box that held the main entrance key was broken for weeks and the mail carrier couldn't enter the building, according to a New York Daily News report at the time.
On the company's Facebook page, Besimayah Parrish, who says she lives in a Shinda building in Manhattan, reached out to complain about her own problems.
For now, residents of 305 Decatur St. without heat say they're taking Shinda at their word that the new baseboard heat will be installed soon, and hope their laundry and public rooms reopen.
But for some, it's too little, too late.
"Everything that's happening now," said Wright's son David Sherrod, 28, "it's supposed to have been happening."