By Jessica Easthope
Vanessa Sumpter and her husband, James Proctor look forward to hosting their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren for Thanksgiving every year. When their gas was shut off on May 3, they never thought this year it wouldn’t be possible.
Vanessa and James haven’t been able to cook anything in their oven or on their stove for the last six months.
“I’m trying to survive and cooking on these hot places this is just getting to me I’m beginning to feel like when I do start back cooking I won’t know how,” said Vanessa.
A leak in the main gas line is what prompted NYCHA to shut off the gas in the Bland Houses in Downtown Flushing. Since then, 80 families have been relying on hot plates to cook.
Vanessa and James both need to stick to a certain diet, James is a diabetic. Since May they’ve spent more than $1,000 on outside food. With inflation and the recent rise in food prices – it’s money burned.
“We’re used to cooking in the oven the foods that I do prefer and need and none of that’s been possible, we’ve been spending a lot of money on outside food which is ridiculous with the prices now a days, it’s breaking us, it’s taking us to the poor house,” said James.
He and Vanessa have lived in the same apartment for 22 years and they say having no gas is only the latest in a long line of issues.
NYCHA told them they’re ineligible for food stamps or any financial assistance because they didn’t have a welfare case open before the gas was shut off.
“We don’t have money to go to the restaurant, once again NYCHA can pester you to death about your rent but they ain’t worried about this gas that we might not even have another holiday. So once again we’re being let down,” said Vanessa.
Vanessa says it’s been one disappointment after another – and now her holiday season feels ruined before it’s even begun.
“You ain’t making no Thanksgiving dinner on two hot plates that’s not how I get down, I’ve been doing it for years so this is gonna be a little work that I said this is overwhelming because I really had my plans for Thanksgiving,” she said.
A NYCHA spokesperson did not offer a timeline as to when gas would be restored but said the outage is still in the permitting and construction stage.