By Bill Parry
The Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City will be first in line for new rooftops as part of the city’s $300 million project to improve the quality of life at New York City Housing Authority developments over the next three years.
Mayor Bill de Blasio went to Queensbridge Monday and announced that $87 million had been allocated for the campus, the largest housing development in the nation.
“Having a roof over your head isn’t good enough if it leaks all the time,” de Blasio said. “NextGeneration NYCHA goes beyond fixing what’s broken and lays the groundwork to make NYCHA physically and economically healthy for generations to come.”
Leaky roofs are the main cause of water and moisture entering a building, and the accumulated moisture contributes to mold, leaks and physical damage to the building structure. NYCHA will replace the roofs on 26 buildings at Queensbridge, repair exterior brickwork and replace window sills
The city will invest $60 million and the federal government will add $27 million towards the construction, which is expected to be completed in 2017.
“When it is fully completed, this renovation will put an end to leaks, water damage and mold,” U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) said. “NYCHA residents will no longer have to worry that their belongings will be destroyed or their health put in jeopardy.”
Maloney and de Blasio were joined by state Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood) whose family has deep ties to the community.
“My grandmother’s family moved into Queensbridge shortly after it opened in 1939,” Nolan said. “Since then thousands of families have benefited from affordable housing. The residents of Queensbridge deserve to live in a safe, healthy environment. Repairing and improving these roofs is much needed.”
The project was rolled out for the media on a courtyard basketball court and many residents cheered when the mayor blamed the leaks for ruining furniture, knocking out electricity and creating health challenges, such as asthma, from the mold and mildew.
“It can’t go on any longer,” de Blasio said. “That is the plan: Fix the roofs once and for all, so people don’t have to live this way.”
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) has heard constant complaints during his 15 years representing the community in the state Assembly and Senate.
“Queensbridge residents have waited too long for simple repairs that will create a healthier and safer environment,” he said. “These new repairs will improve living conditions and better the quality of life for thousands of our neighbors.”
The mayor also defended his plan to build affordable housing, along with some market-rate housing, in open spaces at NYCHA properties. Critics say that the project, known as “infill,” would rob residents of green space, playgrounds and parking.
“Well, I disagree with that,” de Blasio said. “We’ll make sure that people have the same amenities.”
He also said revenue from the market-rate housing would go toward NYCHA’s $17 billion in capital needs citywide.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in my public life working with public housing residents,” de Blasio said. “If you say to people, here is a way to fix elevators, to create a security system——and create jobs for residents of that development, people will understand that that’s a good deal for them.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr