While temperatures continue to drop as the autumn season settles in, a Nogales resident is becoming increasingly concerned about providing a warm home for her family.
Maria Paulette Diaz, who lives at one of the Casas de Anza apartment complexes run by the City of Nogales Housing Authority, said management has yet to connect the heaters in hers or any of her neighbors’ homes, and she was told that it would still take a while longer.
“We’re going on two years living here, and last year the same thing happened where they installed the heaters in every apartment so late,” Diaz said, adding that she called the housing authority to see when her family could expect their heater to be connected. “They told me (it would take) about two weeks… because they were starting in the elderly people’s houses first.”
Diaz said she was mainly concerned about the young children in her home and in the neighboring apartments who don’t have a warm place to sleep at night. Her two daughters are 3 and nearly 1 years old, she said.
She added that Wednesday had been the coldest night in her home so far, with her thermostat reading 52 degrees. On Thursday at noon, it read 62 degrees.
According to the National Weather Service in Tucson, which records conditions at the Nogales International Airport, the local temperature dropped to 38 degrees overnight Tuesday and 37 overnight Wednesday. Thursday’s forecast called for an overnight low of 38.
“(The NHA) told me that they had a lot of things that they had to work on, but to me, being warm is a priority,” she said. “(My neighbors) are the same, just wondering when they’re going to turn on the heaters.”
But Jose Luis Grijalva, maintenance supervisor for the Nogales Housing Authority, told the NI that employees began connecting the heaters weeks ahead of their usual timeline of the first week of November.
“I’ve been doing the same thing for 20 years, turning the heaters on around the same time,” Grijalva said. “But this year, I saw that there was going to be a cold front, so we started turning them on two weeks in advance.”
As of Thursday morning, 80 percent of the Casas de Anza’s 236 apartment units already had their heaters installed, including all of the elderly people’s homes, which consisted of about 60 units, he said.
He estimated that all heaters would be completely installed by the end of next week, if the team of four didn’t encounter any setbacks during that time.
“It’s difficult dealing with the tenants sometimes because one wants the heater and then another one doesn’t,” he said. “Sometimes it’s difficult to understand them, but that’s why we work on a schedule.”
As for Diaz, whose apartment complex was still among the 20 percent of units that hadn’t had their heater connected, she hoped that the NHA would work on connecting them before the temperatures drop even further.
“I know we are all income-based, but we are still people and we deserve to be warm, too,” she said.