BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — With temperatures dipping below freezing, some Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (BMHA) tenants woke up to no heat in their Elmwood Avenue building.
Now they are speaking out to voice their frustration against the BMHA.
The Stuyvesant apartment residents say they are upset with the lack of response from the Housing Authority. They reached out to 7 Eyewitness News to help raise awareness.
Maxine Evers woke up overnight with no heat. She said she received no response from the BMHA.
“I left a voice mail. No one ever got back to me. I called the mayor’s line at 3-1-1. I called the Red Cross. And then I called you. Thank heavens for you,” Evers said.
When we arrived at the Elmwood Avenue apartment late Tuesday morning the heat was back on.
But Evers says tenants are often ignored by the Housing Authority for repairs.
“It took me five months to get my hole in the ceiling fixed after I had a flood. I still have no light in my bathroom,” said Evers, pointing down her hallway.
Residents we spoke with, both on and off camera, told us they are very frustrated with the lack of response they're receiving from the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.
“How frustrated are you?” asked Buckley. “I’m very frustrated. I’m trying to not to cuss and cuss these people out because I feel like that ain’t going to get me nowhere,” responded Brenda Lupa, Stuyvesant tenant.
Lupa tells us she's been having problems with her heat for more than a month.
“The heat part is not cutting on at all – they been here about two times – telling me the same song,” explained Lupa.
We took the tenants concerns to BMHA Executive Director Gillian Brown.
“We are trying to remedy the response time lag,” Brown stated.
Brown tells 7 Eyewitness News the building's heat exchange cracked - shutting down the heat, but contractors worked quickly to replace it Tuesday morning.
“I’ve had engineers and maintenance personnel have visited every apartment for which we had a call to make sure every apartment has heat. They all have heat,” Brown said.
Brown said his team responded as soon as the buildings tenant president contacted the BMHA Tuesday morning about the heat shutdown.
“Everything happened exactly as it should happen,” Brown replied.
The BMHA is ranked among the most ‘troubled’ housing agencies in the national by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
But Brown says they're working to change the low rating.
“Everybody that works here knows how seriously I take the task of getting out of ‘trouble’ status and I think we are up to that,” Brown responded.
Brown says he believes it will take a couple of years to improve the ranking.
He said past annual ratings have been at a 55 or 56, considered low. But Brown said he wants to improve it to 60 in the next two years.
Brown noted the BMHA has recently hired eight new labors and they will continue to hire.
As for tenants Lupa and Evers, they say the deserve better response times to help with needed repairs in their apartments.
“We’re the poor, the elderly and we deserve your attention. Please just give us a courtesy of calling us back,” remarked Evers.
“I pay my rent on time – if I wasn’t paying that rent they’d be sending me a letter putting me out of here,” Lupa responded.
As for Evers broken bathroom light, where she had to plug in a table lamp for lighting, the BMHA arrived Tuesday and made the repair.