Gas pains! City shuts off gas to Williamsburg housing tower

Gas pains! City shuts off gas to Williamsburg housing tower
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Residents of a Williamsburg public housing tower fear they will be cooking with hot plates for as long as a year because of a gas leak in the basement of their Taylor Street building.

City housing workers shut off the gas at Independence Towers on Taylor Street on Feb. 14 to stop the leak and a city Housing Authority official told tenants that service won’t be restored for at least six months and possibly as long as a year, residents said.

An agency spokeswoman told The Brooklyn Paper that a contractor should be able to finish the repairs within four or five weeks and said the authority has not given residents an official time frame for the project — and that has tenants boiling.

“I went to the Housing Authority yesterday and [an official] gave me the runaround and told me the best thing to do is to go to Congress,” said Pamela Cowherd, who has lived in the building for 10 years. “I thought he was joking.”

Instead, tenants have been cooking their meals on cheap electric burners provided by the city.

Williamsburg resident Mayra Ducos threw away her pots — and her dinner — because the hot plates singed them. This week, she has already spent $146 for food for her family of three.

“I’m spending money buying food, there’s no other way,” said Ducos. “I have a 13-year-old. He’s hungry every hour.”

And Hasidic families, who make up about 80 percent of the building’s 122 households, are scrambling to prepare enough food for the upcoming Purim and Passover holidays.

“There’s no way to cook or bake with this [burner], I’ve been shopping, cooking a little and buying the rest,” said one Orthodox woman who gave her name as M. Weiner. “It’s very expensive. For the holidays I have up to 40 people, including grandchildren and great grandchildren.”

Public officials urged the city to fix the gas leak and restore service to the building quickly.

“There are families here with eight, 10, and 12 people, and they cannot provide for them on an electric burner,” said Williamsburg District Leader Lincoln Restler. “We need the gas back on now!”