NYC Considers Turning Empty Public Housing Apartments into Boiler Rooms

As the New York City Housing Authority recovers from Sandy, it has been considering moving the boilers that heat its buildings out of basements and into vacant apartments where they will face less risk of flooding, according to people involved in discussions with officials.

After Sandy hit on October 29th, tens of thousands of public housing residents went weeks without power, heat or hot water. The storm surge blew out basement walls and filled boiler rooms up to the ceiling. On the Lower East Side, tenants lugged water from fire hydrants. From Red Hook to the Rockaways, ovens were being used as heaters. Some 26 public housing developments with 45,000 residents are located in Zone A—the area considered most vulnerable to storm surges. But the flooding went beyond that.

City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, the chairwoman of the Council’s committee on public housing, said officials have told her in meetings they are thinking about using apartments on low floors to house boilers.

The idea is controversial because in some cases, tenants may have to be relocated to make room for the boilers. But some residents are nonetheless open to the idea.



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