CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – Even with two fans and the shades drawn, James Ferriabough says his seventh floor apartment in a Cambridge public housing building at 150 Erie Street is unbearably hot.
“Ninety-eight, I think,” Ferriabough said.
Another resident took a picture of the temperature in her apartment around 10:30 in the morning. It measured 86.5 degrees.
“We’re sitting on a time bomb here,” said the resident, who wished to remain anonymous.
At the same time temperatures approached 100 in Massachusetts on Monday, several residents of the Erie Street building complained that the buildings’ management had not yet turned on the air conditioning, citing Massachusetts building code.
The same resident who did not want to give her name said she reached out to Cambridge Housing Authority, the governor and legislature but only heard back from CHA.
“Saying that it is beyond their capability that there is a state law saying that the heat must stay on until the 15th of June,” she said.
In an email, CHA’s Deputy Executive Director Brenda Downing said the heat had been turned off in the building but that, “our agency provides residents the option of turning on their heat through June 15th. After that date, the system is switched over to provide Air Conditioning through September 15th.”
“The CHA would strongly support a change to building code that would allow some discretion to building owners,” Downing wrote.
According to state regulation, owners “shall provide heat” between September 15 and June 15 but the temperature should not exceed 78 degrees during the heating season.
Downing said the air conditioning is available in the building’s lobby and in building common areas which operate on a different system “to which we have no constraints.”
Ferriabough says that does not provide nearly enough relief.
“You have seniors in here that can’t stand the heat and they say, oh, well come downstairs and sit in our air-conditioned area.”
After reaching out to the city, a city spokesperson said the Cambridge inspectional services would visit the property.
An UPDATE on our story: I’m told Cambridge inspectional services visited the building and CHA has begun the process of turning over the building from heat to AC which could take a few days. Now, we are seeking answers on this law requiring access to heat until June 15 #WBZ https://t.co/C7l26vpzTM
— Louisa Moller (@LouisaMoller) June 8, 2021