The Plagues of Public Housing in NYC

December 26, 2018
The Plagues of Public Housing in NYC

Many New Yorkers can agree that public housing in New York City has been struggling for years. Many apartments are simply unsanitary and barely meeting code standards. If you’ve ever lost heat in the winter or found yourself some extra roommates in the form of rats – you understand this problem.

The conditions are getting so bad for over 400,000 low and moderate-income residents. These residents live in buildings managed by the New York City Housing Authority – also known as Nycha. But, the federal government may soon take control in an attempt to fix the situation.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, are trying to work together to solve this. Nycha is the largest public housing system in the US. But, it has been criticized for mismanagement as well as a crumbling housing stock. Apparently, there is $32 billion needed in repairs.

So, what’s the deal with de Blasio and Carson? The mayor is fighting to keep Nycha under the city’s control. Carson has proposed cutting federal funding for public housing. He wants a federal takeover of Nycha.

The question is – what solution will actually work for New Yorkers? And, how did the state of Nycha get so bad?

Nycha on Trial

It started roughly twenty years ago. Diminishing federal funds led to a lot of deferred maintenance and other projects. This started the backup of repairs unattended to. There was also an investigation into Nycha in 2016 which lasted for two years. Federal prosecutors released an 80-page-long civil complaint. In it, Nycha was accused of endangering the health and safety of tenants. Prosecutors claimed that Nycha had mismanaged, used cover-ups, and failed inspections to cause these health risks.

To avoid trial, Nycha tried to settle on a deal: to appoint a federal monitor in order to supervise the agency. The city also agreed to put $2 billion in to help with the buildings. So, why didn’t this work? Judge William H. Pauley III rejected the idea. He didn’t think it was strong enough and believed the federal government should take full control.

Now, they have until the end of January to submit a new plan to Pauley. If they can’t come to any sort of agreement… the federal government will take over in the form of “receivership.”

So, for now, it is unclear what will happen with the state of New York public housing. While there are many on either side of the equation about who should run the system, it is clear is that something needs to change and needs to change soon.

Many hope for a middle ground to be reached.  As it stands, New Yorkers are suffering the consequences of the poor management and conditions of public housing. So, which solution is the best solution?

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