The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is cold-blooded—literally.
The department responsible for 328 public housing developments in all five-boroughs admitted that in an written and illegal policy, they have waited until the temperature was well past freezing before they would turn on the heat for their residents, confirming accusations leveled against them in a current lawsuit.
How low? A glacial 25 degrees, the New York Daily News reported.
This admission comes days after the paper exposed an internal email sent on November 25 from Robert Knapp, the department’s director of heating unit management, to other NYCHA employees:
“If the residents are referring to the heat being shut down at night, NYCHA official policy and (Health Department) requirement is heat shut off between 10 pm and 5 am when the outside temps are above 20 degrees.”
This is in direct violation to the city’s health code that demands that buildings turn the heat to at least 55 degrees when it’s 40 degrees or colder outside. Of course, NYCHA officials originally denied the email’s accuracy, stating that the department routinely follows the heating rules, but on Thursday they admitted to their wrongdoings.
They told the Daily News that in fact this “chiller” policy was real and that boilers in housing projects were shut down until it reached 25 degrees, not the 20 that Knapp’s email suggested.
“There had been a general rule of thumb at NYCHA that the heat at night was not turned on until the outside temperature fell below 25,” admitted David Farber, the NYCHA’s lawyer.
It’s not clear as to why this policy existed other than to save the city money, but Farber promised that by the end of this week, the chiller policy would be defunct in every last development in the city.
This isn’t the first violation against the NYCHA this month.
Just this week, U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley III cited them for “falling out of compliance with a class action lawsuit settlement reached under the Bloomberg administration,” to do more to control mold growth in developments across the city, the New York Times wrote.