City officials face the heat for lack of heat

Maria Lopez of Gloucester is trying to stay warm at the Lynn train station as she waits for her train to arrive to take her home on Friday. (Jim Wilson)

LYNN — As the region faces record low temperatures, Chicquera White and her 10-year-old daughter have been without heat for a week.

“I don’t have a thermometer in my apartment, but my guess is the temperature is not much warmer than outside,” she said. “I’ve had to put my whole head under the covers because my nose was freezing.”

White, who lives in a 12-unit apartment building on South Common Street, is not the only Lynn tenant feeling a chill.

The city’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD) said so far this month the number of no-heat complaints has reached 19, more than double the November count.

“No heat is a critical violation that must be corrected within 24 hours,” said Clint Muche, Lynn’s deputy building commissioner. “We expect those kind of complaints to be addressed on the same day if at all possible.”

When ISD gets a call about no heat, an inspector visits the home and an order is given to the landlord to correct the issue or provide space heaters, he said.

“Landlords are required to provide heat to at least 68 degrees during the day and not less than 64 overnight,” he said.

Of the 19 complaints received this month, five have been corrected, four were found not in violation, the rest are open. Muche cited the case of the Flatiron building at Central Avenue and Willow Street where some of the issues are about working out the kinks of a new heating system.  

Ashley Manzo, who lives in a Washington Street high-rise with her fiance and a two-year-old, said she has been using the oven to keep her two-bedroom apartment warm.

“On Thursday, we all woke up shivering,” she said.

If you are without heat, contact ISD at (781) 598-4000 during normal business hours. At night and on weekends they can be reached by email at [email protected].

The National Weather Service has posted wind chill advisories for the region. Daytime high temperatures through the holiday weekend will be in the single-digits. But with the wind chill factor it will feel more like minus-11 degrees.

Boston may come close to seeing record-cold New Year’s Day. The last record was 10 degrees in 1918.

There’s a chance a pattern change may allow less-cold temperatures to return during the second week of January, but details remain uncertain.

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