Saving Our Public Housing

City and federal investigators raided the warehouse of the New York City Housing Authority on June 13, responding to a complaint filed against the agency for failing to address deteriorating conditions in 178,000 apartments.

Since the resignation of former NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye in April, the media has been churning out stories exposing the depth of corruption and mismanagement at the agency.

A city investigation discovered that the agency filed false certifications to the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development that apartments were annually inspected for lead paint from 2013 to 2016.

The city probe followed an exhaustive federal government investigation into NYCHA beginning in 2015 that uncovered dangerous lead exposure effecting hundreds of residents and children, a cover up of health violations in NYCHA projects, mold overgrowth, pest infestation, broken elevators and inadequate hearing.

Recently, the city agreed to a settlement of a federal lawsuit about conditions at NYCHA in the U.S. Southern District in Manhattan.
Under the settlement, reported by The New York Times, the city has agreed to spend $1 billion on repairs over four years and $200,000 annually in subsequent years. NYCHA agreed to oversight by a court-appointed federal monitor.

NYCHA also faces a class-action lawsuit on behalf of four children who suffered lead poisoning while living in NYCHA housing in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, and any others who may have been exposed to deadly lead paint in up to 55,000 units.

NYCHA, which manages public housing in the city, has some 615,000 residents — nearly as many as the entire population of Boston, Mass. Some 15,000 DC 37 members reside in public housing, and the union represents 1,000 NYCHA workers.

These workers are responsible for maintaining and improving the living conditions of the residents.

Our members will make sure the apartments are repaired, and they aim to ensure that extensive mismanagement and negligence won’t happen again.

The DC 37 Blog is an online publication of District Council 37, AFSCME, which represents 125,000 municipal employees in New York City. This article originally appeared in the July-August 2018 issue of Public Employee Press.

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