LOWER EAST SIDE — Residents of a Lower East Side housing project are facing a turkey-less Thanksgiving after being left without gas for the second holiday this year.
Sixteen families living in the Alfred E. Smith Houses have been without gas since Nov. 9.
Despite pressure from local politicians and the residents' association, it's uncertain that it'll be back on in time to make the traditional meal — prompting a fundraising drive to make sure the residents don't miss out on the holiday cheer.
This isn't the first time the gas has gone out at the 12-building New York City Housing Authority-owned complex, which sits in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. Over the Easter holiday in April, residents had to go without the fuel.
“When I found out, I was screaming all over the place,” said Aixa Torres, the president of the Smith Houses Residents' Association, this week.
The gas was switched off Nov. 9 after a dangerous leak was discovered, a NYCHA spokesperson said. To compensate, residents were issued a single hot plate to prepare meals.
“All you can really do is cook boiling food,” Torres noted.
Now, she is hoping to raise cash needed to supply the families, mostly seniors, with a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
As last weekend, Torres had raised $100 and received a donation of five turkeys. She estimated that $500 more is needed.
“The elected officials in the area have been putting pressure on NYCHA, but there is no way it can get done before Thanksgiving,” said Torres, who has lived in the complex for 50 years.
Her role as president is unpaid, and she holds a day job at the Department of Education as a district family advocate.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Councilwoman Margaret Chin were among those who voiced their concerns in a joint letter to NYCHA Chairman John Rhea.
“There is obviously a chronic problem with gas outages at Smith Houses and it is essential that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) come up with a plan to address this issue in the long term,” wrote the elected officials, including Borough President Scott Stringer and State Sen. Daniel Squadron.
"Residents should not have to default to using hot plates as a temporary solution for the gas outage, as they are unsafe and inconvenient, especially for tenants with large families, young children or seniors."
This is the fourth time in two years there has been a gas outage at Smith Houses, Torres noted.
The letter from elected officials added that "the frequency and duration of gas outages at Smith Houses goes beyond what residents should reasonably have to endure."
In statement, NYCHA said it had repaired the lines and was working with Con Edison, which supplies the complex's gas and electricity, in an attempt to restore the gas before the holiday.
A spokesman for Con Edison, Allan Drury, said the company was hopeful but uncertain if services could resume in time for Thanksgiving.