While one politician after another has given lip service to problems at NYCHA, the buildings have steadily fallen into disrepair: infestations of mold, lack of heat and hot water, broken elevators, work orders ignored for months… A recent New York Times article noted some buildings have not had heat for 10 years!
It’s time to completely change NYCHA leadership — overhaul the current culture of appearance over substance. Just as in most city agencies, NYCHA is more concerned about the PowerPoint charts they present to De Blasio than actually getting the work done! Too many people in government worry more about bad press reports than the health and safety of its citizens. No more cover-ups! The only way we can solve problems in our city is to have transparency even if the situation is embarrassing and the condition at NYCHA is deplorable!
- One way to raise needed money for NYCHA repairs is to use the Adopt a Highway concept, asking the public to donate money to help with the repairs. Donors will get their names on a plaque. If they donate $10 million, we can name the building after them, and, if they give $200 million, we will name the whole complex after them. This gives the city much-needed capital for NYCHA repairs and will give the contributors a tax credit. It is a win-win for both sides.
- We can use contractors and individual electricians, plumbers, etc. who owe back taxes to fix problems in NYCHA complexes. This concept adds capital and a must-needed workforce. This will be a win-win for both sides. Construction contractors and individual workers will work off their back taxes by repairing NYCHA, and in return we will reduce the tax penalties that they owe.
- Part of my criminal justice reform package has a work probation plank. We can use some of those in this program to help clean up and do minor repairs in NYCHA complexes.
- We will have to get concessions from the unions to allow the last two ideas. However, they should be amenable to it because, if not, the federal government will put NYCHA in receivership then they all could be out of jobs.
- The first thing we have to do is to get the complete data of repairs needed in all NYCHA complexes. Next we need an outside entity to do its own report. We then compare the two reports, and, if there are discrepancies in the information provided by NYCHA, actions will be taken. Next we have to prioritize the most critical repairs, especially those concerning heat and hot water!
- Repairs will continue while the above reports are being compiled. We not only have to speed up the rate of repairs but also must make sure they are done right the first time! Throwing a coat of paint on the wall does not fix the lead or mold problem!
- We must review why it costs so much more to do repairs in NYCHA complexes than to do them in private housing. One of my opponents bragged that he was able to allocate $1 million to get some front doors fixed. However, he later found out that he had gotten only two doors — that $1 million dollars!
- To speed up repairs and reduce cost, we must streamline the procurement process. It can take more than a year to approve a contract. In that time our NYCHA residents suffer.
- The payment side also has to be streamlined. To get paid, a company might have to submit over a thousand pages of paperwork for a month’s invoice.
- NYCHA has to review its tenant list and start rightsizing their residence. We have senior citizens whose kids moved out years ago still living in three-bedroom or four-bedroom apartments. We’ll incentivize moving them to smaller apartments by covering all their moving expenses then giving them six months of free rent. We can move homeless families into those large vacant apartments.
- While reviewing the tenant list, we should also check the income levels of all residents to make sure they’re paying the proper rent compared to their incomes. There are people who have lived in NYCHA for years without rent increases even though their incomes have gone up threefold.
- We have to prioritize making all empty apartments livable. There are about 2,000 empty apartments in NYCHA right now. Repairing these units will help with rightsizing and reducing homelessness.
- NYCHA leadership will be required by law to meet residents quarterly.
- As Public Advocate I will set up in each borough a permanent committee, consisting of the NYCHA tenant presidents, Borough President, and the Public Advocate office, that will meet once a month to address the problems in NYCHA.
If you truly want to change NYCHA, change the culture by having administrators worry more about results than reports. There must be accountability and punishment for ineptitude because what has been done to people is criminal. I’m prepared to advocate for residents of NYCHA even when the cameras are off! Unlike feeble politicians, I will speak forcefully and promote policies that will actually save NYCHA — not the platitudes of our current crop of politicians who for decades haven’t come up with original ideas that work. New York City has a shortage of housing, and we cannot allow the 400,000 residents of NYCHA to be homeless.