Bland Houses Without Gas: NYCHA Residents Left Frustrated Ahead of Thanksgiving Holiday

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY

By Jessica Easthope

A watched pot never boils.

“I’m gonna be watching forever because it’s still not boiled yet,” said Lyndia Bitler, a tenant at the Bland Houses NYCHA complex.

Bitler usually does Thanksgiving big, but without gas in her NYCHA apartment, holiday plans have been canceled, a single hot plate isn’t going to cut it.

“I wanted to do a turkey,” Bitler said. “I usually either do a lasagna or baked macaroni and cheese and I can’t do that on a hot plate.”

Bitler and her neighbors in this building of the Flushing NYCHA complex haven’t had gas for a month. They were given a hot plate and crock pot to hold them over until repairs to a gas leak are made, but Bitler has a family to cook for, which includes four children, all with developmental or physical disabilities. NYCHA said what they gave her is good enough but Bitler believes otherwise. 

“I’m used to cooking on the stove, cooking in the oven,” Bitler said. “I can’t do that now. It’s taking a toll on me.”

We tested just how long it would take the hot plate to bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil. On a stove it takes anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. 

It took 23 minutes and Bitler worries she’ll be waiting much longer. She heard her gas could be out for six months.

“I got kids I gotta feed, [and] a husband,” Bitler said. “It’s really not acceptable.”

She currently has 31 open work tickets NYCHA hasn’t responded to, for mold, leaks, holes in her walls, cracked ceilings, and Bitler’s biggest concern, mice. 

“Every time they put holes in the walls they come, 30 in three days,” Bitler said. “I’ve been hounding them. Hello, I have a rodent problem here. Oh we don’t do that. What do you mean you don’t do that? You’re Housing! It really makes me cringe.”

Bitler said at this point her issues have become an emergency. She’s even taken NYCHA to court. She expects Thanksgiving to come and go. 

“I have prayed a lot, the ongoing problems here has really tested my faith a lot,” Bitler said. “If they don’t turn the gas on, what am I supposed to do? It’s just gonna be another day.”

Currents News reached out to NYCHA about Bitler’s issues but we have not yet received a response. 

The nightmares at NYCHA were the focus of an exhibit in The Bronx. 

Twenty people who lived in public housing in the borough were interviewed and photographed for the “speak out” exhibit at The Bronx Documentary Center. 

It depicts the yearslong struggle to secure better living conditions for the residents.  

While the exhibit is now closed, you can read and see more of it in this week’s tablet.