The New York City Housing Authority is notorious for allowing public housing units around the city to fall into dangerous states of disrepair, with lead poisoning, rodent infestations and the wild overgrowth of toxic mold among the many horrors NYCHA residents must endure. As such, news that some of the city's housing complexes earned extremely failing grades in a recent federal inspection likely won't shock anyone. 25 points out of a possible 100 for three Upper East Side buildings? Not surprising. But just across town, an Upper West Side complex scored a remarkable 97 percent. Puzzled? According to the NY Post, so are many residents.
"This past winter was bad. My apartment was only warm, I never got any heat. I froze. I slept with my hat on," Sandra, a former NYCHA employee and a resident of the building in question—154 W 84th Street—told the Post. "So a 97 is a lie."
Another resident, Richard Welch, told the tabloid that finicky, dilapidated elevators—a not uncommon fixture in NYCHA buildings—have stranded him in his apartment for up to five days, and for hours in the lobby.
The frequency with which the Department of Housing and Urban Development inspects public housing sites depends on how well buildings do in their previous inspections. These determine whether or not NYCHA succeeds in providing low-income New Yorkers with "decent, safe, sanitary housing in good repair."
According to the Post, the management team running the Upper East Side Isaacs Houses, Holmes Tower, and Robbins Plaza charted the most dismal scores any of their NYCHA colleagues have received since January 2015. These three buildings ranked 13th worst of the over 3,800 scores handed out in 2017.
Other residents complained of leaks left unpatched, asthma developed from bathroom mold doused in bleach, and general neglect. That tracks with what federal investigators who've looked into NYCHA's managerial tactics have found: That officials deliberately falsified reports to HUD on problem sites, hiding extremely unsafe conditions and ignoring repair requests. Indeed, the city now owes NYCHA $2 billion to cover the cost of crucial updates. Unfortunately, the actual tab would likely top $30 billion.
The Post does not suggest a reason for the suspiciously high 97 percent achieved on the UWS, but considering previous incidents involving NYCHA managers' reporting habits, we can take a guess. We have asked NYCHA for comment and will update if we hear back.
UPDATE: NYCHA spokesperson Chester Soria said in a statement: "Despite decades of federal disinvestment from public housing that has resulted in issues with our aging infrastructure, our residents still deserve safe, clean homes. Low PHAS scores demonstrate the work ahead for our new leadership team, and our new General Manager is already addressing staffing and operations issues portfolio-wide."