ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tensions at a St. Petersburg apartment complex have hit a boiling point between many of its tenants and management.

What You Need To Know

  • Tenants of the Presbyterian Towers received a notice Friday night that there was no heat or hot water in the building 
  •  The issue stems from a malfuntion with the building’s boiler system
  •  Residents are frustrated that there’s no heat on Christmas Eve, which turned out to be one of the coldest days of the year 
  • In a statement, management offered hotel accommodations and reimbursements to residents and are looking for space heaters. The residents say they’re only doing that because residents called Bay News 9

Much of the frustration, according to the folks that live at the complex, is that the heat is currently not working so many feel like they’re left in the cold this holiday season.

For one resident, Stephanie Rapko, she is keeping her place warm by using her oven.

“I put it up high to 500,” she said. “I boiled hot water today to wash my dishes.”

It’s the last thing she thought she’d have to do this holiday weekend but she says she had no other choice when she was told there was an issue with her apartment building’s boiler system and that despite trying to fix it there would be no heat or hot water.

“I didn’t know what it was going to be,” Rapko, who’s lived in the same building for nine years, said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

Because it got pretty cold in her place, roughly 67 degrees, and down to about 60 in other apartments.

“They have nowhere else to go,” Rapko said. “I don’t have anywhere else to go, they don’t have anywhere else to go.”

She, along with numerous residents we spoke with that were afraid to go on camera for fear of eviction, claim not enough is being done by their complex, Presbyterian Towers, to help them stay warm.

“I have friends in the building who are trying to host Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day dinner, and now their plans are ruined,” Rapko said. “They can’t do that because there’s no heat and they have no hot water.”

She says this isn’t the first time they’ve had this kind of problem.

Last week, according to Rapko, they were without hot water for about three days. 

When she got the notice about the lack of heat for the holidays last night, she decided to reach out to Bay News 9.

“I am tired of going day by day, wondering if I’m going to have hot water today or if I’m going to have heat today,” she said.

Thankfully, according to Rapko, she can stay at her daughters but she knows not all of the residents have that luxury.

“If I need to stay there I could but other people here don’t have any family at all,” she said.

Bay News 9 reached out to Presbyterian Homes and Housing, the management company for Presbyterian Towers.

In a statement, its corporate relations manager said in an email, at 11:06 Saturday morning, that:

“The building was built in 1968 and is 210 apartments for low-income seniors, ages 62 and older. Unfortunately, the boiler system had a motherboard malfunction yesterday evening. Staff was on site until after 9pm. Two different contractors were also on site attempting to fix the issue. They both diagnosed the issue as the motherboard needing to be completely replaced. My corporate office staff, along with Presbyterian Towers staff have been working around the clock to find a replacement board, however, it is not immediately available due to the age of the boiler system. A temporary boiler system was also an option, however, the contractor who supplies such things cannot get one to the property and up and running in such a short period of time. At this time, we are offering residents compensation for alternate accommodations should they wish to go to a hotel. We are also in the process of locating temporary space heaters for the building. We hope to have something in place as quickly as possible so that the residents are comfortable in the cold temperatures. I can assure you that the comfort and safety of our residents is our number one priority.”

According to texts sent from a member of the management team to several residents, people who live in the complex were not notified until roughly an hour after Bay News 9 received that statement that they could be reimbursed for hotel accommodations and that management was looking to purchase space heaters.

Despite this, Rapko and many others plan on staying put because they’re on a fixed income and don’t have the funds to spend money on a hotel on Christmas Eve and then wait for a reimbursement.

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