NYCHA Problems Worsen Through Brutal Cold Spell
The first two weeks of the new year saw a stretch of single digit temperatures and the only landlord making news for failure to provide heat to its tenants was the City for thousands of NYCHA residents.
NYCHA, still in hot water for failing to conduct required lead paint tests and falsely certifying to the Federal Government that they had done so, left nearly 1,500 residents at the Redfern Houses in Queens without heat or hot water from before New Year’s Eve and well into the beginning of January.
Additionally, it was reported that tenants in other NYCHA complexes throughout the City were without heat and hot water. According to City Comptroller Scott Stringer, his office received calls from over 55 NYCHA developments complaining about no heat. Although some developments were visited by NYCHA boiler technicians, tenant district leaders in the Bronx said that NYCHA would come and reset boilers and close out entire buildings’ service-request tickets without actually checking to see if apartments were once again getting heat.
As more and more tenants continued to suffer from a lack of heat and hot water, additional news reports broke that showed that over the last four years since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, the number of in-house NYCHA boiler technicians dropped from 345 to 250. The loss of staff to repair boilers has clearly had an effect on NYCHA housing, as the New York Daily News reported that NYCHA received 15,039 heat complaints between December 29th and January 2nd. During the same period last year, NYCHA received 3,659 heat complaints.
Despite Mayor de Blasio assuring that everything was being done to rectify the issues at all NYCHA developments, Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Stringer said that was far from the case, as NYCHA boilers throughout the City continued to fail and service-request tickets were being closed without any work actually being done.
Rather than acknowledge the fact that the City mishandled the heating situation, Mayor de Blasio and his Administration began pointing fingers at Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State for not providing adequate funding for boiler repairs and replacements. Throughout the month of January, the blame game continued between the State and the City while intermittent heat issues continued at various NYCHA complexes.
Subsequently, the City Department of Investigation (DOI), which released the report on NYCHA’s failure to conduct lead paint inspections, launched an investigation into how NYCHA responded to the huge heat system failure. In addition, the City Council Committees on Public Housing and Oversight and Investigations will have a joint hearing on February 6th with regard to the chronic heat problems at NYCHA buildings.
As we went to press, RSA also learned that Vito Mustaciuolo, who most recently served as a Deputy Commissioner at the City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), was named the new General Manager of NYCHA. Mr. Mustaciuolo worked at HPD for over three decades and his experience with the City’s residential buildings is something Mayor de Blasio hopes can rectify the ongoing issues at NYCHA.
While Mayor de Blasio touts the building of new affordable units throughout the City, his Administration is failing as the City’s largest landlord as NYCHA tenants continue to live in frigid and unbearable conditions in NYCHA apartments.
We will keep you apprised of further developments with regard to DOI’s investigation of NYCHA.