July 27, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Gas services at the Bland Houses complex in Flushing have been restored following a collective effort by several Queens lawmakers.
Residents at the NYCHA site had to contend without being able to cook or use their stoves throughout the coronavirus pandemic due to broken gas lines.
Some residents went six months without working gas in their apartments.
The elected officials announced Monday that gas services had returned to 10 units at 133-50 Roosevelt Av. Residents in these apartments had been coping without working gas since February
The lawmakers said that gas services at another 10 apartments, at 133-40 Roosevelt Av., were on the verge of being brought back to normal after residents there were without gas since March.
Congresswoman Grace Meng, State Senator John Liu, Assembly Member Ron Kim and Council Member Peter Koo penned a July 1 letter to the heads of NYCHA, New York City Department of Buildings and Con Edison calling for the broken gas lines to be repaired.
Meng, in addition to the letter, spoke with NYCHA Chair and CEO Gregory Russ. Meng said that she explained to him the toll the outage had taken on the residents and emphasized the urgent need for restoring the gas quickly.
She thanked Russ for being responsive but said that the repairs were long overdue and should not have taken so long.
“I hope that there will be no further service interruptions and that any future repairs do not take many months to fix,” Meng said in a joint statement with the signees of the letter.
“These repairs are long overdue and should not have taken this long but I thank NYCHA for following through and finally fixing the problem,” Meng said.
Some residents, many of whom are essential workers, previously told the four lawmakers that they spent hours preparing food over hot-plates due to the lack of gas.
Assembly Member Ron Kim said that it was good–if not belated–news for the tenants living without gas and he was glad that the lawmakers helped make a difference.
“Being forced to go without use of your stove during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic is unacceptable, and I hope the gas is restored for the remaining affected residents shortly,” Kim said.
Nevertheless, Council Member Peter Koo called on NYCHA to do more to prevent similar types of gas outages from happening
“If a private landlord left its tenants without gas for months during the pandemic, they would be held to account,” Koo said.
“And when infrastructure does need repairs, it needs to be fixed with far greater urgency,” he said.
State Senator Liu echoed his colleague’s sentiments and thanked Meng for “lighting the fire under NYCHA” so that the residents could light the fire on their stoves again.”