Federal government increases oversight of NYCHA

January 31, 2019

Via Wikimedia

President Donald Trump’s administration announced on Thursday it will seize some control over the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), calling for an independent federal monitor to oversee the troubled agency. According to the New York Times, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), NYCHA, and the city reached a deal that includes an investment of $2.2 billion over 10 years by the city in NYCHA, but does not place the agency under receivership. The monitor will be responsible for oversight of the agency’s 176,000 apartments, part of the largest public housing authority in the country.

Benchmarks will be established to fix maintenance issues like broken boilers, lead paint, heat issues, vermin and mold problems on a deadline. And the new federal monitor would replace NYCHA’s current interim chair, Stanely Brezenoff, who de Blasio appointed last year after the resignation of former chair Shola Olatoye.

During a press conference on Thursday, de Blasio called the agreement a “cooperative and constructive outcome.” The city is committing $2.2 billion in funding to NYCHA over 10 years, in addition to the $4 billion previously committed.

“This is a very positive outcome, one that I believe can bring meaningful change to living conditions of the many thousands of families who depend upon NYCHA for their housing,” Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement Thursday.

The troubled agency has faced intense scrutiny after not properly inspecting lead paint in apartments and for not fixing broken boilers during dangerously cold temperatures. The U.S. attorney’s office had been investigating NYCHA since 2015 and found crumbling conditions across many of its housing developments.

As a result of the investigation, prosecutors said the agency had lied and covered up its mismanagement and has “intentionally deceived HUD inspectors.” The city agreed to pay $2 billion in the next 10 years to address safety and health issues, but a federal judge had rejected the agreement two months ago.

“Somewhat reminiscent of the biblical plagues of Egypt, these conditions include toxic lead paint, asthma-inducing mold, lack of heat, frequent elevator outages, and vermin infestations,” Judge William Pauley wrote in his ruling last year, as Politico reported.

The new requirements come with no additional resources, with HUD agreeing to provide the $1.5 billion already pledged for this year.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a statement Thursday expressing his dismay with the appointment of a federal monitor: “The time for talk and political stunts is over. Cut the long overdue check from the federal government to fully fund the needed repairs, listen to the real NYCHA monitors, put a plan in place, and get to work.”

The monitor, expected to be announced in the next few weeks, will be selected by HUD and federal prosecutors and paid by the city. And the monitor will provide quarterly reports to HUD and SDNY.

Read the full agreement between the federal government and NYCHA here.

[Via NY Times]


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