IRVINGTON, NJ — PhotoAccording to Jonelle Jones, a resident of the Irvington Housing Authority’s Crescent Lane public housing complex who complained she and other residents had been without hot water from Friday, Feb. 15, to Tuesday, Feb. 19, the hot water was turned back on by 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19.
“It started running hot again later that day,” said Jones on Tuesday, Feb. 25. “I got a call from the executive director, asking me if the hot water was back on and I told him ‘yes.’ It came back on after the workers finished working on the problem.”
Jones credited IHA Executive Director Carmelo Garcia for reaching out to return calls she made to him for four days, asking for help with the situation. Garcia could not be reached for comment about the hot water situation or its resolution by press time this week.
Rasheed Willis said he knew the water pump was the problem with Jones’ hot water, just by her description of the issue. Willis was one of 13 IHA maintenance workers laid off by former Executive Director David Brown in 2016, as an alleged cost-cutting measure. It was later revealed Brown had run up debts by giving himself and other employees salary increases and had mismanaged IHA funds. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development ordered the IHA Board of Commissioners to fire Brown for cause in 2017. This was after Willis and other former employees had already filed formal complaints about Brown’s fiscal excesses.
When Willis heard Jones was complaining about a lack of hot water, despite the heat working in her apartment, he said he understood the problem. Jones said she was told IHA had to hire outside plumbers to find the problem and fix it. This led to delays that were finally resolved Tuesday, Feb. 19.
“The heat are steam boilers, which is a separate system from the hot water tank system. So you can have one without the other,” Willis said Wednesday, Feb. 20.
Mayor Tony Vauss said he had nothing to do with Jones’ lack of hot water issues or anything else going on at the IHA, because his administration is separate from the IHA, where Garcia is in charge.
“Carmelo Garcia is the executive director of the Irvington Housing Authority and he’s doing a great job, as far as I’m concerned,” said Vauss on Tuesday, Feb. 26. “HUD took over the IHA. We were lucky enough to get Carmelo Garcia. He has us almost off the list of troubled housing authorities. I was just over there today for a senior event. There were a whole bunch of people dancing and eating and having a good time.”