The protest was organized by the Justice For All Coalition (J4AC), and included tenants from other Queens NYCHA complexes that are experiencing similar issues.
Tomasine Reyes said tenants are furious over the neglect NYCHA has shown to the apartment complex.
“It’s not just gas, but that’s a major part of it,” said the Woodside Houses resident. “We’ve got scaffolds up that the mice are playing tag on.”
Dannelly Rodriguez, an Astoria Houses resident and organizer with J4AC, said NYCHA has failed tenants across the city.
“How can you live a dignified life when you don’t even have gas, when you have vermin running through your apartment all the time, and when you’re cold every single winter?” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez and J4AC lead organizer Stan Morse are assembling a list of complaints from residents across multiple NYCHA complexes in preparation for a lawsuit.
“We are going to bring all of NYCHA together and stand as one group because there is strength in numbers,” Morse said. “We’re not going to be intimidated. We’re going to fight until this fight is won.”
In response to the living conditions at Woodside Houses, State Senator Michael Gianaris has introduced the NYCHA Accountability Act, which would “reduce rent obligations during extended utility outages and ensure we treat all our neighbors with respect.”
“Ongoing utility outages are unacceptable for any New Yorker,” Gianaris said. “NYCHA residents should not be expected to pay full rent when they are not receiving the services they are paying for.”
Borough President Donovan Richards said that he has visited Astoria houses and acknowledged that there are many issues with public housing.
“We’ve got some work to do,” he said.
He added that with President Joe Biden now in office, there should be “no excuse” on getting federal assistance for public housing.
“We can have every rhetorical conversation we want, but we have to make sure we put our money where our mouth is,” Richards said. “That’s what we’ll be looking for in a big way from Washington.”
In the meantime, J4AC is still collecting complaints from residents, and tenants are demanding that action be taken to repair their apartments.
“Get my damn gas on,” Reyes said. “I have a four year old I have to feed. Let’s get it together.”