State Sen. Zellnor Y. Myrie, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Assembly Member Felix Ortiz and City Council Member Carlos Menchaca on Monday joined Brooklyn tenants who have been without gas for more than two months.
Myrie, who represents the 20th Senatorial District in Brooklyn, said the apartments of 545 46th Street, owned by Sharp Management Co., consist of 17 units with at least 50 tenants, including many children.
With just days before Thanksgiving, the tenants, elected officials and advocates gathered in front of the building to demand action.
“This is a week where we are supposed to be giving gratitude. But instead of coming out here with gratitude, this morning we are out here with an attitude,” Myrie said. “We are upset. We are angry.
“While the landlords get to enjoy their Thanksgiving dinner this week, the tenants who pay rent have no cooking gas,” he added. “How dare you spend time with your family, eat with your family, enjoy time with your family and leave the families who pay rent in the cold.
“This is unacceptable, and we are calling for action this week,” Myrie continued. “Sharp Management, you are on notice.”
Menchaca said “the audacity of Sharp Management to deny their tenants at 545 46th Street heat and gas while charging some more in rent is beyond reprehensible.
“It is cruel, inhumane and completely unacceptable,” he said. “Their actions capture a citywide trend of landlords thinking they can treat tenants in working class, immigrant, and minority communities with less respect than other neighborhoods. Not in Sunset Park. And not on my and State Senator Myrie’s watch.
“We will not stop fighting for the tenants until heat and gas is restored,” he added.
“Gas must be restored to this building,” Chimed in Ortiz. “I’ve contacted state housing officials and the city buildings and housing officials responsible for dealing with inexcusable situations like this.”
Rep. Velázquez (D-NY) said “it is absolutely unacceptable that these rent paying families have been without gas for more than two months.
“Now, we are approaching Thanksgiving and rather than enjoying a home cooked meal, our neighbors are having to worry about how they will stay warm,” she said. “Sharp Management needs to correct this situation immediately, and I will continue working with Sen. Myrie and Councilman Menchaca to remedy these problems.”
Myrie said he and Menchaca’s staff learned about the outage at a Tenant Association meeting last Thursday.
Tenants said that the gas has been out since mid-September and that they are awaiting repairs for other issues such as a leaking roof.
City records show that the building currently has three outstanding violations, according to Myrie.
He noted that, most recently, on Nov. 15, the city’s Department of Buildings issued a violation for work with no permit on a gas line.
On Friday, Myrie said he and Menchaca’s office contacted the building owner, Sharp Management, but they were yet received a response.
Tenants said that the landlord is installing new gas meters as a Major Capital Improvement (MCI), which they fear will lead to increased utility costs for the tenants and increases in rent.
Meanwhile, on Nov. 22, a group of tenants filed a rent reduction request with NYC HCR as a result of the outage.
“It is unacceptable that they are being priced out through Major Capital Improvements and residents of 545 46th Street go without gas this Thanksgiving, which they have not had since September,” said Michelle de la Uz, executive director of Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a community organization based in Sunset Park.
“Residents should be able to reside in their home, in conditions that are livable and not fear being evicted from their current landlord, Sharp Management. Neighbors Helping Neighbors will continue to support the residents until progress is made,” she added.
“We fight for greater achievements in our lives. We want to provide better conditions for our children,” said the building’s Tenant Association President Carlos Villon. “But to be denied of basic necessities, and made to feel invalidated by those in a position to meet those needs. Then we must also show our strength to fight.”