HARLEM — Residents of a 40-unit building have gone for weeks without heat and hot water after a boiler broke Thanksgiving morning, tenants and the landlord said.
“We were boiling water to take showers,” said Ta-Tanisha Rice, who has lived at 1980 Seventh Ave. for 12 years.
Harlem Restoration Project, which runs and maintains the building fixed the hot water last week and plans to have heat restored throughout the building Friday, according to the manager Ricky Jones.
“The boiler will be replaced tomorrow,” he said.
But tenants say that the heating problem as just the latest example of how the building has been mismanaged.
The elevator routinely breaks down, there are mice and water leaks in the building, and the landlord has a $133,000 water bill, records show.
“The people running this building, they don’t know what they are doing,” said Roberta Riley, who has been in the building since 1991. “Last Saturday I was stuck in the elevator. The Saturday before that I was stuck in the elevator.”
The Department of Buildings has fined the landlord $10,810 in the last two years for elevator and boiler violations, records show.
Jones, who began managing the building last year, said they are in negotiations to replace the elevator. Regarding the outstanding water bill, he said the city went 10 years without sending Harlem Restoration Project a bill, and as soon as they discovered the outstanding balance they set up a monthly payment plan.
The city could not immediately confirm how or why the water bill got so high.
Jones also defended Harlem Restoration Project’s record of providing affordable housing in the neighborhood. The building has 40 rent protected units and rents as low as $500 for a two-bedroom. Additionally, the offer services to recently released convicts and help them find jobs and housing.
“When you have a building this size that has those kinds of rents there is no profit,” he said. “This is just maintaining affordable housing in Harlem. When we get a vacancy we don’t go to the market rate.”
The building does save about $139,000 in tax abatements through the city’s J-51 program designed to help developers restore buildings, records show.