NYCHA admits violating federal regulations

Cyril Josh Barker | 7/26/2018, 10:40 a.m.
As the curtain continues to be raised on just how bad the New York City Housing Authority has been treating ...
St. Nicholas Houses/NYCHA Bill Moore photo

As the curtain continues to be raised on just how bad the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has been treating its residents, another bombshell dropped this week about the ongoing cover-ups.

Reports indicate that NYCHA forged tenant signatures in order to close repair jobs. Officials from the housing authority were reportedly trying to help eliminate the backlog of repairs and help then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg come through on a promise to fix numerous repairs.

Over the years tenants have complained of issues such as no heat, faulty plumbing, issues with kitchen and bathroom fixtures and other infrastructure issues.

NYCHA officials were reportedly sent to work on the repairs and knocked on the doors of residents during a time residents wouldn’t normally be home. When no one answered, the repair would be logged as closed.

“We’ve been fighting for NYCHA residents since the first day of this administration, which is why we’ve committed nearly $5 billion to improve the health and safety of residents’ apartments,” NYCHA said in a statement. “It’s why we restarted these vital inspections halted by the previous administration.”

Results from an investigation released earlier this month revealed that NYCHA needs $32 billion over the next five years to fulfill the backlog of repairs. A far cry from the only $2 billion settlement the city made with the federal government for repairs.

On Wednesday, NYCHA admitted that it's violating federal regulations during a board meeting. In a letter read by NYCHA vice president Anne-Marie Flatley, the agency said it's not in compliance with a number of federal regulations.

""NYCHA's recently-established compliance department will develop an approach to address areas of noncompliance as appropriate," Flatley read.

Areas of major concern include mold and lead along with staff training and emergency management.

NYCHA officials said its working to assess the extent of the federal violations and has established a compliance department.

In response to the report, Bronx City Council Member Ritchie Torres, who sits on the Council’s Public Housing Committee, sent a letter to interim NYCHA Chair Stanley Brezenoff demanding him to find a solution to the backlog of repairs.

“The latest Daily News report demonstrates definitively that we, as a city, have no hope for uprooting NYCHA’s culture of deception unless we end, once and for all, the pernicious practice of closing complaints and work orders in the absence of actual repairs,” Torres wrote. “Far better to have a larger backlog that represents reality than to have a deceptively smaller one that prioritizes propaganda over progress.”

Several elected officials and NYCHA recently participated in a public hearing to set an agenda for NYCHA. The hearing was hosted by the Manhattan District North Council of Presidents, the National Congress of Neighborhood Women and the Huairou Commission.

“We are at a new moment,” said Maria Forbes, chair of Clay Avenue Tenant Association. “Over 20 years poor people housing has been neglected. All across the country public housing has been torn down, and people like me who live there have been denigrated and blamed for the dismal condition.”

NYCHA recently kicked off its new NYCHA Cares program aimed at addressing the backlog of more than 50,000 work orders in apartments. NYCHA will initially focus efforts on Manhattanville Houses in West Harlem, Queensbridge Houses South in Queens and Kingsborough Houses in Brooklyn.

The housing authority hopes to have the work completed in the next 24 months.

“NYCHA Cares exemplifies how we can effectively answer repair problems,” explained General Manager Vito Mustaciuolo. “By utilizing current staff, support staffing and private contracting solutions, we will be able to cut down wait times and make much-needed repairs for our residents.”