New York City’s public housing sector has been under fire for months for failing to maintain and upgrade NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) buildings and units for residents. After brutal media scrutiny, and ongoing court claims, NYCHA, America’s largest public housing agency, was ordered to pay $2 billion yesterday (June 12), according to federal prosecutors.
The Associated Press reports NYCHA staff failed “to comply with lead paint regulations and other maintenance issues that endangered low-income residents and their children.” Claims stemmed from a deep-rooted investigation that uncovered years of unfixed elevators, insufficient heat, mold, lead paint and insect and rodent infestations.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Herman addressed the decision to make the agency pay, saying, “Today marks the beginning of the end of the nightmare for these residents.”
He continued, saying, “[The agency] engaged in a culture of false statements and concealment” when filing reports required to secure federal housing subsidies, he said. “The culture of NYCHA is to blame. The management of NYCHA is to blame.”
The agreement, which is documented in a consent decree, orders NYCHA to pay $1 million over a four-year period, and an additional $200 million annually for the next six years. It also requires a “monitor” to oversee and manage the decree over a 10-year span.
Mayor Bill de Blasio referred to the settlement as a “dramatic step” and a “turning point for our public housing system,” in a formal statement.
“Decades of divestment by the federal and state governments and decades of neglect by New York City government have pushed our public housing system to the brink. I didn’t run for mayor to continue that history. I ran to help turn it around.
This morning I entered our city government into a contract with the United States Attorney that will aggressively address the infrastructure and accountability failures outlined in the Consent Decree. Our work with the federal government ensures not only the continuation of record-level investments by my administration, but also requires the next mayor to invest in NYCHA with that same dedication.
By further acknowledging and providing solutions to a decades-old pattern of mismanagement, divestment and neglect, I am confident this settlement will be a turning point for our public housing system. By enshrining in city government my administration’s absolute commitment to never turning a blind eye to those in need, this agreement takes a dramatic step to fulfilling our obligation to more than 400,000 New Yorkers who call NYCHA home.”
NYCHA management has been questioned multiple times over the past year, which ultimately led to the dismissal NYCHA chairman Shola Olatoye earlier this year.
Take a look at what’s been going on behind closed doors below.