First NYCHA federal oversight report recommends using drones to help with building inspections

July 19, 2019

Via Wikimedia

Independent federal monitoring of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) began this year, and the first resulting quarterly analysis is expected to be released as early as Monday, POLITICO reports. The quarterly analysis will provide a summary of progress made to date in addressing issues that have long plagued the public housing authority such as lead paint, mold, broken heating systems and shabby kitchens and bathrooms. According to sources familiar with its content, the report also contains the unexpected suggestion of using drones to inspect building rooftops and facades.

As 6sqft reported in January, 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. An independent federal monitor will be responsible for oversight of the agency’s 176,000 apartments, part of the largest public housing authority in the country. Federal monitor Bart Schwartz began conducting the quarterly analysis after being chosen for the job in February. The city hopes to complete the task of inspecting NYCHA apartments by 2020, though according to an online tracker only five percent of the total inspections have been completed.

Though there are weightier issues like lead paint, mold and vermin that are likely to be addressed in the report, using drones instead of extensive scaffolding to conduct inspections of buildings’ upper reaches could cut costs and make the inspection process more efficient. Developers have looked to drones as a more efficient way to meet the city’s inspection requirements, as builders in other cities have begun to do. One small problem: They’re technically illegal for use within the five boroughs under a 1948 New York City law that requires all aircraft to lift off from airports. The devices are allowed in some parks, and city agencies like the NYPD and FDNY use them to help with emergency response.



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