Annie CottonMorris, who heads the tenants association at the 71-year-old Woodside Houses, lives just a block from the nearest deli but it takes her two hours to buy a newspaper these days.
“That’s how many people stop me now to talk about what’s wrong with their apartments,” she told an outdoor rally of angry Woodside Houses residents Tuesday.
The latest complaint sweeping the city-owned housing complex is a utility outage that has left 12 apartments without gas.
Some tenants have been cooking on hot plates since last November, CottonMorris said.
Six units were fixed last week, said the New York City Housing Authority, which manages the 1,350-unit complex.
Six other apartments are due for repairs starting this weekend, a NYCHA spokesman said.
“While we understand gas service interruptions are inconvenient, we also want to ensure our residents’ safety as we work to restore service as quickly as possible,” the agency said in an emailed statement.
The complex of 20 six-story buildings straddles Broadway between 49th and 51st streets and has had its fair share of problems.
At the height of last month’s snowstorm, the heat and hot water failed throughout the 22-acre complex for several hours.
Some 40 tenants — joined by an equal number of residents of other NYCHA projects, many with similar breakdowns — called the rally to dramatize what they said were other, more longstanding deficiencies.
“I’ve lived here for 30 years,” said Marie Richardson. “When I moved here, it was a paradise. Now, I pay $2,000 a month rent and I have no gas.”
Other tenants complained of water being turned off late at night, mold, broken doors and bathroom fixtures, mounting trash and vermin.
“You can see the mice play tag on the scaffolding,” said one angry tenant.
“This is an ongoing situation,” Tomasina Reyes, another resident, told the rally. “It just doesn’t stop.”
In recent years, NYCHA has come under an ever-increasing barrage of blame for service failures and an inability to keep up with basic maintenance in the city’s nearly 180,000 units in 326 developments.
A gas outage at the nearby Astoria Houses knocked out an entire building for more than three months last fall. Some residents of the Ravenswood Houses are reporting they too are without the ability to cook except with hot plates supplied by the authority.
“I’m going to law school for one reason,” Dannelly Rodriguez, a housing activist from Astoria, told the rally. “To sue NYCHA.”
Assemblyman Brian Barnwell (D-Maspeth), who attended the rally but did not speak, said even lawmakers have difficulty with NYCHA.
“They play games and don’t respond for weeks” to his inquiries, he said. “And I’m an officeholder.”
State Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) issued a statement shortly before the rally condemning the gas outage as “unacceptable.”
“NYCHA residents should not be expected to pay full rent when they are not receiving the services they are paying for,” he said.
Gianaris is the sponsor of a bill that would automatically reduce rents for residents who suffer through extended utility failures.