New York Daily News: N.Y. Senate bill would provide rent relief to NYCHA residents with gas, electric outages

Originally published in New York Daily News

ALBANY — Sen. Michael Gianaris wants to help public housing residents who are being left out in the cold or without a way to cook a hot meal.

The Queens Democrat will introduce a bill Thursday granting rent relief to NYCHA tenants who experience utility outages.

Gianaris penned the bill in response to an ongoing issue at the Astoria Houses that has left thousands without cooking gas since Sept. 23.

“Months-long utility outages are unacceptable for any New Yorker, whether in private or public housing,” Gianaris said. “NYCHA residents should not be expected to pay full rent, which typically includes utilities, when they are not receiving the service."

The measure, dubbed the NYCHA Utility Accountability Act, would reduce a tenant’s rent obligation in an amount prorated per day of a utility outage up to 10% of the tenant’s rent or $75 per month.

It would apply to gas, heat, water, and electric outages.

The bill is not being immediately introduced in the Assembly, as likely Assemblyman-elect Zohran Mamdani will sponsor the measure when the new legislative session begins in January.

According to NYCHA’s service portal, there are currently outages at complexes across the five boroughs, some dating back to November 2019.

Gianaris said residents in Astoria have been given hot plates for cooking, which he called an insufficient replacement for gas stoves.

The lawmaker believes that in addition to providing relief for impacted tenants, the legislation would provide a financial incentive to fix service more quickly.

“My proposal would ensure we treat all our neighbors with respect and create financial urgency for NYCHA to make needed repairs on a faster timeline,” he said.

NYCHA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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