The NYC Housing Authority: Time for a change

Over the last month, the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Region II head, Lynne Patton, has been a guest at the homes of several New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents.  Patton has taken this opportunity to observe the deplorable conditions that residents endure in NYCHA buildings on a daily basis.  Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Patton's month-long stay is her use of social media to document her findings and experiences on NYCHA grounds.  Some of these findings include deteriorated ceilings that are disintegrating in peoples' bathrooms, exposed electrical wires, hanging ceiling bulbs, and paint peeling off apartment walls.

Patton has been photographed solemnly standing in front of yellow tiled walls and rusty window guards as she continues her assessment.  It is shocking that neither the city nor the state politicians in New York have taken the time to conduct a similar assessment or at least comprehend their constituents' horrific living conditions.  Recently, Patton took to Twitter and blasted NYCHA: "You're entitled to your opinion, but w/all due respect, more money doesn't fix gross mismanagement & fraud. Until the federal monitor identifies where HUD's $30 MILLION PER WEEK is going, I'm not advocating for more b/c it's NOT going to REPAIRS! @NYCHA spent $341M on union OT!"

So there you have it.  The largest public housing system in the country is siphoning $30 million per week from the federal government and dishing out overtime.  Meanwhile, NYCHA residents are faced with the decaying infrastructure of a dying system.  How is it possible that the self-proclaimed party of "equality" allows over 400,000 New Yorkers to live in squalor?

NYCHA boasts 13,000 workers who are tasked with maintaining over 300 buildings.  I wonder what they do all day.  Unfortunately, NYCHA residents are victims of the inefficient city agencies.  NYCHA residents would be better served if a private company handled all the repairs and maintenance needed in their homes.

Most concerning for NYCHA residents are the number of criminals who reside in NYCHA apartments.  Many of the criminals are not reported on lease agreements and are essentially "undocumented" residents.  According to a New York Daily News article, "[s]ince 2015, DOI has detailed three times NYCHA's failure to utilize the 'permanent exclusion' tool to reduce crime in developments.  The latest was Feb. 22, when NYCHA rejected DOI's recommendations to get tough."  Not only are NYCHA residents forced to endure the deterioration of their homes, but they must also live in fear of the criminals in their midst.

Recently, I took a bus ride into Manhattan and observed the trees and stores lining the street before Central Park came into view.  The bus stopped in front of a NYCHA building, where a despondent-looking young black man sat on the building's staircase, looking toward the bodega on the corner.  All around him, garbage was strewn all over the sidewalk, wrappers and bottles carelessly tossed by the curb.  If NYCHA can't manage the problems it is mandated to tackle, then Patton and HUD should find a way to bring in the private sector to clean up the mess.

Tom Copper is a pseudonym.