City inspectors answer calls from Newark families without heat

The Garden State has seen some of the coldest temperatures of the season this week, and many families are struggling to stay warm.

The Garden State has seen some of the coldest temperatures of the season this week, and many families are struggling to stay warm. (12/12/13)

NEWARK - The Garden State has seen some of the coldest temperatures of the season this week, and many families are struggling to stay warm.

Landlords are required to keep dwellings at a minimum of 65 degrees overnight, but some don't have any heat, and others don't even have power or hot water.

The city of Newark works to enforce this law, especially when temperatures get this dangerously low.

Staying warm during the holiday season hasn't been easy for the Christmas family.

Freddie Christmas says his wife and three children are freezing. He called city inspectors who took a temperature reading of 13 degrees outside, and just 39 degrees in the living room. Christmas says heat is included in his rent.

Christmas even paid for the heating oil, but his landlord hasn't fixed the boiler. "I haven't heard from him yet. Every time I call, no answer," he says

The apartments at 215 Wainwright are under new management, but inspectors have been there with the same problems over and over again.

"We haven't had heat in this building for a month and a half," says building superintendent Uriah Wesley. "Close to two months."

There are 22 apartments, housing more than 100 people, shivering in the cold. The super blames it on the boiler.

"The tenants are complaining," Wesley says, "asking me when the heat is coming back on. And I have no answer for them."

More than 400 Newark families have lodged formal complaints about heating since October. Inspectors say Christmas' landlord will probably go before a judge.

"We tried to get in touch with the owner," an inspector told News 12 New Jersey. "The owner isn't picking up, so I left a message that we need to resolve the matter with the Christmas family. If not, we're putting them in court. "

The number for Newark's Heat Hotline is (973) 433-7311.

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