City and feds reach agreement to overhaul NYCHA developments across the five boroughs

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Photo via Twitter/@NYCMayor

The city has reached an agreement with the federal government that provides a new roadmap forward for NYCHA and the 400,000 residents who live in its 334 development across the five boroughs.

In a joint appearance by Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson Thursday, they announced a federal monitor would be selected by HUD and the Southern District of New York with input from City Hall to address the longstanding issues at the housing authority’s properties.

“The families who have endured unimaginably poor housing conditions deserve better from their housing authority,” Carson said. “Today we are presenting NYCHA residents with bold new solutions for decades-old problems.”

The search for the federal monitor will begin immediately, according to Mayor de Blasio. The city will pay for the cost of the monitor who will provide quarterly reports to all the agencies involved.

“What we have done here today creates a strong patch forward, a tangible path forward,” de Blasio said. “It will change and improve the lives of public housing residents. We wanted to make sure there would be results.”

The agreement, made under HUD’s authority and not subject to court approval, establishes specific requirements and milestones to address the serious health and safety hazards at NYCHA complexes, including lead-based paint, mold, heat, vermin, among others. It also requires the existence of a substantial default by NYCHA but does not impose a receiver.

The Mayor said that means NYCHA remains “under local control.” As part of the agreement, the city is committing at least $2.2 billion in funding over the next 10 years to address the issues while HUD continues to provide funding to NYCHA, which is estimated to be around $1.5 billion a year.

“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 on NYCHA for their housing,” Carson said. “But there is still a lot of work to be carried out. We look forward to continuing what has been a productive working relationship with the Mayor and his team. HUD will continue to advocate for the hundreds of thousands of children, women and men in New York City whose lives and livelihoods depend on having safe, fair and affordable housing. They deserve nothing else.”

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said more needed to be done at the state and federal level to end the third world conditions that exist at NYCHA developments.

The state and Federal governments must do their part to help the residents of NYCHA by significantly increasing the amount of money invested in public housing,” Maloney said. “As a member of the Housing, Community Development, and Insurance Subcommittee, I will be closely monitoring the implementation of this agreement and will work with my colleagues in the New York delegation to make sure that the voices on NYCHA’s residents are heard loud and clear in the halls of Congress.”

 Comptroller Scott Stringer was incredulous over the agreement, especially that a federal monitor was central to the plan.

“Now they want a monitor? NYCHA already has monitors — its residents who have suffered from decades of disinvestment,” Stringer said. “They’re the parents who sought help when their children had lead poisoning. The grandmother who has to huddle near a stove when it’s colder inside her apartment than outside. And the family dealing with health issues because of rampant mold in their home. 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.”