NYCHA residents say they are still suffering from Ida

Residents of Woodside Houses are still grappling with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida as tenants have gone weeks with inadequate heat and hot water in their apartments.

Last year’s storm brought record-breaking rainfall to New York City, flooding the heating plant of the 20-building housing project that is home to nearly 2,900 New Yorkers. The main boiler was submerged in over five feet of water, according to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

Elected officials recently took a tour of Woodside Houses, which has since installed three mobile boilers. Still, residents say the heat has been sporadic this winter, including when they went the day before Christmas Eve with no heat or hot water.

NYCHA says the mobile boilers will be taken offline in stages after a $1.4 million repair job to the heating plant is complete in February.

Before she was ever sworn in, Councilwoman Julie Won was receiving reports of no heat in Woodside Houses. Since she’s taken office, she has fielded over 20 similar complaints.

Following her tour of the public housing complex with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and State Senator Jessica Ramos, Won called for a permanent fix to the heating issues at Woodside Houses.

“Since September 2021 when Hurricane Ida hit, NYCHA had months to prepare in advance to repair the heating plant at Woodside Houses,” she said. “NYCHA should release a long-term solution instead of unreliable mobile boilers. FEMA and HUD must make funding the repair of the heating plant a top priority for the health and safety of everyone at Woodside Houses.”

Yen Castro, whose mother lives in Woodside Houses, said he had only just started to feel reliable heat, coincidentally, on the same day as the elected officials came to tour the facility. He says for the past few years the heat quality has been poor.

This year, however, he says has been particularly bad.

“My mother had to buy portable heaters and they were in use for at least a month,” said Castro, who has been living off and on at Woodside Houses for 20 years. “My friend says it’s the same with his mother at 50-50 on Broadway.”

Another resident, Evelyn, said that she had to sometimes boil water in order to take a shower and also uses a portable heater to keep warm. She said the city could have prevented the long-term problem by being ready for the flooding the storm brought.

“They should have been prepared,” she said. “You know we have hurricanes, why don’t you do something about the basements because those basements are always getting flooded when it rains a lot.”

Ramos and Assemblyman Brian Barnwell have proposed legislation that would create a searchable database of all maintenance request tickets at NYCHA properties.

The NYCHA Accountability Act aims to increase transparency after residents say they have had their complaints closed without them being resolved or fixed.

“For years, we have had constituent complaints from NYCHA residents regarding no heat, no hot water, issues with mold, and other horrible conditions,” said Barnwell. “Time and time again, the ticket complaint numbers generated would be closed by NYCHA without any explanation and without the condition being resolved.”

Hurricane Ida was the second-most damaging hurricane to make landfall in the nation behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Three of the 13 New Yorkers who died due to the storm were a Woodside family — including a 19-month old — living in a basement apartment.

With the heat just starting to come back to normal in his mother’s apartment, Castro says the feeling of warmth has been overdue. He said people may assume that New Yorkers know how to overcome hardships with an inflated sense of resiliency.

“They think we’re supposed to be good at all times,” he said.

Five arrested in Middle Village mayhem

Five people were arrested after a large group of protestors marched through Middle Village on Friday, damaging property along the way.

The group was observed by officers at about 8:30 p.m. marching and throwing garbage cans in the path of police vehicles attempting to follow them.

Police also say the group attempted to break mailboxes, damage parked vehicles and tore down several flags.

Social media posts by the NYPD and Councilman Robert Holden on Friday night and Saturday morning show vehicles damaged and one car spray-painted with the words “F— You.” Its “Thin Blue Line” flag decal was spray-painted over.

“The NYPD takes its responsibility to protect the 1st amendment rights of peaceful demonstrators seriously,” the NYPD posted to Twitter. “Just as important is the safety of NYers & the protection of property from people breaking the law in the name of protest. As seen tonight in Queens, they will be arrested.”

None of the five people arrested were from Queens, They face charges of rioting, unlawful assembly and obstructing governmental administration, among others. A hatchet, axe and spray paint were also recovered by police.

Kyrk Freeman, a 22-year-old from Brooklyn; Charles Edmonds, a 37-year-old from Freehold, New Jersey; Jonathan Lefkowitz, a 38-year-old from Brooklyn; Daniel Wattley, a 28-year-old from Brooklyn; and Alexander Davis, a 33-year-old from Brooklyn were takeninto custody.

Demonstrators hit the streets just hours after the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict was announced on Friday afternoon. Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges, including first-degree intentional homicide in connection with the August 2020. Rittenhouse fatally shot two protestors and injured a third in the riots that occured in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Holden renewed his call for peaceful protests during a press conference with mayor-elect Eric Adams the following day.

Speaking to this paper, Holden said the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case was an excuse for what he calls “anarchists” and “spoiled brats” to cause damage.

“They’re totally misguided,” said Holden. “These idiots were looking for anything to destroy.”

The councilman said the neighborhood could have been targeted because it is a “pro-police” neighborhood.

“They could’ve targeted us because we were white, if they’re doing that it’s racism,” said Holden.

Elsewhere on social media, videos show police following protestors and threatening them with arrest. The footage shows a group yelling, “Good night, alt-right! No Nazis in our town tonight!”

Adams released a statement following the Rittenhouse verdict focused on reforming the country’s gun laws.

“The Rittenhouse ruling should be the last horrifying piece of evidence we need to reverse dangerous gun laws in America and reject the culture of hate and bias that leads to violence,” it read. “Whether it’s in Southern Wisconsin or East New York, guns sold in one state are used to create death and mayhem on the streets of another day.”

State of development

Dear Editor,

A proposed accessory dwelling units (ADU) bill in the State Legislature would allow at least one extra housing unit on a property already containing a home, regardless of current zoning.

This would effectively end the existence of one-family and other low-density districts in our state and city. It would encourage multifamily housing in all areas, again regardless of current zoning.

The aim is to create more affordable housing. However, there is no reason why these units would not go for market-rate prices, out of the range of most people seeking truly affordable housing.

And forget infrastructure issues in our already crowded communities. These factors are not considered.

Another state proposal is looming on the horizon is transit-oriented development. It would allow increased development within a half-mile of railroad stations along Amtrak, Metro North and the LIRR.

That would include a large swath of Northeast Queens around the Broadway, Auburndale, Bayside, Douglaston, and Little Neck stations. Current zoning laws would be ignored to encourage residential development, including multi-family housing.

Any plan for transit-oriented development must be developed and approved by local officials, community boards, and the public, not bureaucrats and others who are unfamiliar with the area or the wishes of local residents.

Please contact your state legislators and other elected officials to express your opinions on these proposals. If they pass, our communities would change forever, and not in a positive way or for the benefit of those seeking real affordable housing.


Henry Euler

First Vice President

Auburndale Improvement Association

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In the next Dessert with Andrew & Yvonne Zoom Seminar, the dynamic duo will discuss ways you can help those in need this holiday season. The seminar is titled, “Holiday Edition: Community Service.” From soup kitchens to nursing homes; learn about the various ways one can volunteer, and hear from organizations that are making a positive impact in our community.

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In the next Dessert with Andrew & Yvonne Zoom Seminar, the dynamic duo will discuss ways you can help those in need this holiday season. The seminar is titled, “Holiday Edition: Community Service.” From soup kitchens to nursing homes; learn about the various ways one can volunteer, and hear from organizations that are making a positive impact in our community.

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