NYCHA official defends outages that left thousands without heat

A top official in the Housing Authority on Wednesday defended outages that left more than 24,000 residents without heat over Thanksgiving by saying that was still better than last year, when 100,000 were left shivering.

“At the beginning of heat season, we promised residents they’d see improvement,” Joey Koch, NYCHA’s top heating official, said at an agency board meeting in Manhattan.

“Improvement doesn’t mean perfection. It means fewer outages and it means faster restorations. It wasn’t perfect. But the results were a vast improvement on last year, despite the drastic drop in temperatures.”

The authority’s aging boilers struggled once again over Thanksgiving week as temperatures plummeted. The outages last week left more than 24,000 residents without heating at 28 developments.

But the authority argued that its performance was far better than in 2017, when nearly 100,000 residents at 58 developments lost heat over Thanksgiving week.

Three quarters of residents had their heat restored within 24 hours this year, up from a dismal 7 percent last winter.

NYCHA’s heating problems exploded into view last winter as aging heating plants across the city crashed leaving more than three quarters of its more than 400,000 residents without heat for hours at a time.

To avoid a repeat, officials said they staffed up over the holiday weekends and said the move kept the average outage at just 11 hours.

But the Housing Authority still struggled in place, most notably at Harlem’s Grant Houses where residents were left without heat for more than 24 hours after the heating plant crashed after days of problems.

“The situation at Grant shows the reality of our $32 billion in capital needs,” Koch said, pointing to NYCHA’s mammoth repair bill. “Staffing up and taking more aggressive steps in how we operate cannot change the age of our equipment.”

“We will continue to see these unfortunate service interruptions because our capital needs have yet to be funded.”

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