the problem

In New York City, landlords are required to provide heat in residential apartments during the winter, within certain temperatures. Last winter, the city received over 200,000 heat-related complaints from 37,000 unique buildings, concentrated in lower-income neighborhoods throughout Upper Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. And although it is consistently the #1 complaint during the winter, less than 4% of those heat complaints resulted in a violation. Thousands of New Yorkers are freezing in their homes, with few resources to get the heat turned up.

HEAT SEEK's response

Our mission is make the city a safer, warmer place to live for all New Yorkers. Heat Seek helps tenants resolve their home heating issues by providing the objective, reliable temperature data they need to hold their landlords accountable. Working closely with tenant organizers, public interest attorneys, and city officials, we install proprietary temperature sensors and offer technical expertise to assist low-income tenants in documenting when their landlords fail to provide adequate heat during the wintertime. By focusing on tenants at risk being forced from rent-stabilized and other affordable housing, we ensure that sensors are placed with the tenants who need our data the most

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MEASURE

Our web-connected temperature sensors can be installed in any number of apartments throughout a building. Sensors take hourly temperature readings and send them through an onboard internet connection to our secure servers, where we store the data all winter long. To ensure data custody, our team conducts all installs and protects the devices from potential tampering.

ANALYZE & IDENTIFY

Our web application analyzes the sensor data, alongside the outdoor temperature, in order to record each hour the temperature falls below the legal limit as defined by the NYC Housing Code. Data is displayed in a graph as well as a comprehensive heat log, so that tenants and their advocates have robust data to take to court and to use in landlord-tenant negotiations. 

ADVOCATE

Armed with this data, public interest attorneys, community organizers, and even city officials can advocate on behalf of at-risk tenants, and better hold landlords accountable for their negligence and harassment. Our data can demonstrate patterns of landlord abuse: manipulating the heat before, during, and after city inspections; targeting specific tenants; using heat as a harassment tactic; and more.

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This season we will again be working closely with our partners to install proprietary temperature sensors and offer technical expertise to assist low-income tenants in documenting when their landlords fail to provide adequate heat. By focusing on tenants at risk of being forced from rent-stabilized and other affordable housing, we ensure that sensors are placed with the tenants who need our data the most.

Our web-connected temperature sensors—essentially a thermometer connected to the internet—provide an affordable, reliable, and easy-to-use method of collecting, storing, and analyzing temperature data from a single apartment, many apartments, or even a portfolio of buildings throughout the city. We automate the entire process to provide tenants with the objective data they need to get their heat restored.

Heat Seek partners with public interest attorneys, community-based organizations, and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the city agency that enforces NYC’s Housing Code. Our work is grounded in a deep respect for community organizers and on-the-ground advocates, and we seek to contribute services that meaningfully support their work.