YONKERS, N.Y. – For nearly a week in January, Carmen Padilla didn’t go a day without turning her oven on.
She boiled water, wrapped herself in blankets and walked around her Yonkers studio apartment in a winter coat. At one point, Padilla said the thermometer on a digital alarm clock in her Van Cortlandt Park Avenue home read 52 degrees.
Occasionally the heat will kick on and sometimes the water will be hot, but Padilla says it usually doesn’t last long.
“It’s rare when you have both heat and hot water on the same day,” the Parkview Apartments resident said. “Those are good days.”
Padilla is one of dozens of Yonkers tenants say they have been left in the cold this winter.
In January, the city launched its heat-complaint hotline, giving residents a place to report landlords who weren’t delivering heat or hot water. In a three-day span after the hotline was launched the city fielded more than 125 calls, officials said.
In the two weeks since, the city has received nearly 100 more. A spokeswoman for Mayor Mike Spano’s office said Monday there are also approximately 20 active court cases as a result of insufficient heat and hot water complaints.
According to state law, tenant occupied buildings are required to maintain a temperature of no less than 68 degrees between 6 a.m and 11 p.m. and no less than 65 degrees between 11 p.m and 6 a.m. In addition, hot water is required to be available at a minimum temperature of 120 degrees at all times.
Spano has urged residents not to accept anything less than that.
“I encourage residents to contact the city heat hotline if they feel their home does not meet the building requirements so action can be taken immediately,” he said when announcing the launch of the hotline earlier this year.
Landlords found guilty of not providing sufficient heat or hot water face a fine of at least $500 and a possibility of up to two weeks in jail. Repeat offenders can be hit with fines as high as $1,000 and a third violation comes with a minimum of 16 days in jail.
Padilla said she has called Parkview Apartments' management and knows other tenants in her building have also complained.
In fact, one resident posted a sign in the elevator a few weeks back, urging others to call Yonkers' Housing Department and report a lack of hot water.
“Something must be done,” the sign read.
In the meantime, residents are expected to be spared from the frigid weather that gripped the city earlier this year. Forecasts call for temperatures in the mid to upper 30’s the rest of the week.
Still, Padilla said she is anxious for spring and summer weather to arrive.
"It can't come fast enough," she said.
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