NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Tenants in one Newark building were going to dangerous extremes to stay warm Saturday after their heat went out.
CBS2 received a call Saturday from the residents inside the 28 unit apartment building at 2 Columbia Avenue asking for help. They hadn’t had heat for five days, and while it wasn’t a big deal with the warm weather earlier this week, temperatures are now plunging.
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, it looked like the freezing tenants might be smoking in their hallway.
“That’s not cigarettes. That’s just breath,” they said.
“I have the stove on, I have water on top, I have the oven on, just trying to get a little bit of heat,” Donna Walker told Conybeare. When he asked whether she knows that’s dangerous, she replied, “I know it’s dangerous, but I don’t want to freeze to death either.”
Walked called the city Saturday to file a complaint after getting nowhere with the new building owner, AFC Property Management.
“She just said that they turned it off because other tenants were complaining about the way the heat was working,” Walker said.
“This is crazy!” Shola Ugadare said.
Ugadare had to borrow a space heater, but her kids were still bundling up to watch television in their living room. Management told her it could take 10 days to get the heat back on.
“How do I keep my four children warm for 10 days?” she asked. “They have colds, they’re sneezing!”
The radiators were all stone cold. Tenants even took Conybeare down into the basement where he said it was obvious the boiler was not functioning.
“That makes me feel very upset and it’s unacceptable,” Darryl Homes said.
Walker’s daughter was wearing a hat and three layers of clothes. The mother even put plastic up around her door to try and block the cold air. She had one message for the new owners: “I’d like to see them come and take care of this building the right way… Come turn on the heat, come take care of the people that live here.”
After CBS2 contacted the city, code enforcement officers arrived. Then a short time later, the owner from AFC Property Management told CBS2 he sent a crew and they got the heat back on just before 10 p.m.
Walker said she was happy to get some help.
“Well I want to thank you guys for coming out, because I honestly believe if you didn’t come out and show the world what’s going on, they probably wouldn’t have come out,” she said.
Code enforcement officers said the owners could be fined $1,000 per unit per day for not providing heat as legally required.