NYCHA improvements mandated by federal government could cost NYC $1B

Posted On Thu, May 31, 2018 By

Posted On Thu, May 31, 2018 By In affordable housing, Policy

Photo via Wikimedia

New York City will likely have to cough up $1 billion over the next four years to pay for improvements to its public housing stock as part of an agreement with the federal government, Politico New York reported Wednesday. The settlement from federal prosecutors ordering repairs to buildings run by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) will likely be reached in the next few days. The order comes after an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s District Office, which began in 2015, to check crumbling conditions across the 325 developments it operates. If the city does not follow the orders, the federal government could then take over the authority.

In April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for NYCHA and appointed an independent monitor to be selected by Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and the Citywide Council of Presidents by June 1. If they miss Friday’s deadline, City Comptroller Scott Stringer will be in charge of choosing the monitor within two weeks. According to Politico, it appears likely the deadline will be missed.

Spending of the $1 billion will be under the direction of an independent monitor to be appointed federally. It remains unclear whether the federal monitor will take over from the state monitor.

Most recently, NYCHA has been scrutinized for conducting inspections of lead paint in apartments with children and for not fixing broken boilers during this year’s frigid winter. Stringer’s office found that out of the nearly 22,000 heat and hot water complaints during a two-week stretch of brutally cold temperatures, the complaints came from tenants living at over 30 NYCHA developments.

Sources told Politico the consent decree from federal prosecutors will address lead paint, mold and vermin in public housing. De Blasio has not yet signed the agreement, which will give the city more responsibility for the authority, but is expected to do so.

In a letter to First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan, Council Member Ritchie Torres challenged the mayor’s involvement with federal negotiations. “If NYCHA is legally independent of the city and if public housing is legally a federal program, on what basis can the U.S. Attorney compel the city to bear the cost of a consent decree on public housing?” he wrote.

Torres continued: “The attempt by the federal government to force the city to financially fix something that the federal government itself broke is an unprecedented transfer of legal responsibility where it doesn’t belong.”

[Via Politico NY]

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