An audit has shown that The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) failed to meet their own hiring requirements, subsequently depriving public housing and low-income New Yorkers of potential wages.
The audit, conducted by NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, examined 29 of the 224 capital project contracts awarded by NYCHA between the years 2010 and 2012.
The results showed a number of discrepancies, violating the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Act. According to the act, NYCHA must ensure that capital contracts over $100,000 draw 30 percent of their new hires from within. There is also a requirement on contracts over $500,000, requiring that 15 percent of labor costs go to low income and public housing individuals. The objective of these requirements is to assist residents in becoming self-sufficient through job placement, training, educational and support services.
However, according to the audit, in just six contracts NYCHA residents lost out on over $184,000 in potential wages. Auditors also found that payments to residents were inflated on official documents. NYCHA reports claimed individuals received $1.45 million when the number was really $977,000.
“Because of mismanagement and lax oversight, NYCHA has denied its own residents wages and training that they deserve,” Comptroller Stringer said in a statement. "It’s well past time that NYCHA got serious about making sure that all eligible New Yorkers get the opportunities to which they are entitled to help them build a better future."
The comptroller accused NYCHA of several compliance and monitoring issues, displaying a lack of responsibility for upholding the hiring regulations. The investigation also revealed a glaring lack of verification from contractors and inadequate evidence to back up hiring numbers supplied on official documents.
According to the audit summary, NYCHA has disagreed with all but one element of the report, but has not followed up with any extra evidence. "NYCHA didn’t just fail to properly manage these programs, the Authority rejected the notion that it needed to improve. That’s simply unacceptable," Stringer said.
Several solutions have been put forth by the comptroller, including more responsibility from monitors when it comes to hiring staff and managing contractors. The audit also recommended that NYCHA update their written procedures, and maintain a better timeline on paperwork.