For the NYC Comptroller’s Office, nobody puts authority in the housing authority quite like those living in one of its 335 developments. Last week, the Amsterdam News reported that residents led the selection process of two generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS) audits on the NYCHA through a citywide survey and a steering committee. Ultimately, they picked probes looking into repair processes and evictions under the new Section 8-based Rental Assistance Demonstration/Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (RAD/PACT) program.

“As we’ve listened to hundreds of NYCHA residents at Family Days, structured roundtables, and informal discussions this summer, it’s been agonizing to hear the level of frustration, distrust, and appalling conditions they endure,” said Comptroller Brad Lander in December. “The challenges NYCHA faces are large, and both the costs of repair and the need for management reform can seem overwhelming. But by making sure we include residents in the conversation, we can bring transparency to the process and take meaningful, achievable steps to restoring basic services, safety, and trust.”

So what’s concerning residents? Suggestions for repair audits led the way on the office’s survey, with concerns about elevator maintenance, scaffolding, and mold as some prevalent issues. Deputy Comptroller for Audits Maura Hayes-Chaffe told the Amsterdam News that another audit looking into repair tickets was offered, but ultimately, the one on how contractors are chosen and the standards their work is held to was chosen. Roughly 12 audit ideas were presented, with proposals centered around sanitation and safety. 

She added that the second audit over PACT program evictions is largely driven by resident distrust. Hayes-Chaffe said the housing authority’s federal monitor, as well as the false-positive arsenic tests on drinking water at the Lower East Side’s Jacob Riis Houses last year, as sources of skepticism. 

“It’s fair to say that residents overall find it very difficult to believe NYCHA,” she said. “There has been a very big push to do RAD/PACT as an alternative. From the city perspective, it’s driven by a desire to bring in new funding streams. But from the residents’ perspective, it’s a very big change.”

The two audits are quite intertwined. NYCHA estimates a $40 billion tab to fully renovate its developments and see Section 8, which opens the door to private developers and management, as a pathway to funding the much-needed repairs. But a move away from Section 9—the public housing model NYCHA is traditionally funded through—stokes anxieties about displacement and redevelopment. At last month’s announcement of the audits, steering committee members said they’ve heard their fellow residents express such concerns. 

“Why does it seem like the people are stating that they’re being evicted on a rapid rate from RAD/PACT and not from NYCHA?” said resident Joveta Paige. “Our job is to dive into that, and not just look into it but also give a hand. Let’s fix it and do something different.”

A spokesperson for NYCHA responded with a statement welcoming the audits but defending the Section 8-based PACT program as a tool for “improving conditions and quality of life for residents.”

“The PACT program has proven to be one of the most successful tools the Authority has for unlocking billions of dollars in funding to address long-overdue repairs, while ensuring resident input regarding the future of their homes,” the spokesperson said via email. “NYCHA additionally monitors maintenance and repairs at all PACT properties, as well as evictions, legal proceedings, grievances, and distribution of eviction prevention resources, and we welcome continued collaboration with residents, the Comptroller, as well as other partners, to improve conditions of our buildings following decades of disinvestment.”

Hayes-Chaffe said comptroller audits on agencies like NYCHA are traditionally selected through internal risk assessments. The last probe looked into the conditions of development entrance doors back in 2018. She says this time around serves as a pilot for Lander’s “people-powered” audits, which she believes will increase engagement among the biggest stakeholders.

“One of the drivers of change is public interest—just based on the launch of this and the interest we’re seeing—it’s a success from the standpoint of lifting interest in NYCHA audits,” said Hayes-Chaffe. “That didn’t exist three weeks ago. That in itself speaks to the power, and we also hope that residents will feel more satisfied because they’ve been consulted. Hopefully they will see more trust in our results, because they’re aware we’ll be talking to them about the processes and how we’re approaching testing in a way that is not normally done.”
Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting

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