Shortly after 28-year-old Akai Gurley was shot and killed by a rookie NYPD officer last month in the stairwell of the Pink Houses, police and City officials confirmed that the lights in the stairwell had burned out. But at a City Council hearing yesterday, NYCHA chair Shola Olatoye testified that they were in fact working earlier that day. "The caretaker assigned to this building said that when she left for the day on Thursday, November 20, there weren't any lights out on the 7th or 8th floor," Olatoye said, according to a report in Capital.
Even if they had shorted out the day before Gurley's death, Olatoye said that interior lights in NYCHA's public spaces take an average of nine days to replace.
“There is not a single, solitary soul in this chamber who could look at the deplorable conditions of public housing and honestly say that we live in a city where black lives matter,” said Bronx councilmember Ritchie Torres, who is chair of the City Council's Public Housing Committee. Ninety percent of NYCHA's 400,000 residents are black or Latino.
As if NYCHA's dismal state wasn't apparent enough, Torres was quoted in another Times story earlier this week about how the NYPD harasses public housing residents with petty housing violations that can lead to an eviction.
“The NYPD has no business playing hall monitor,” Torres said yesterday.
And today, Comptroller Scott Stringer announced the results of his audit detailing the "financial incompetence" at NYCHA, and noted that the agency "squandered opportunities for at least $692 million in revenue and savings" since at least 2002.
Mayor de Blasio and Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr. said that they would infuse the housing authority with $101 million for "infrastructure upgrades, such as additional exterior and interior security cameras, exterior permanent lighting, new doors and layered (keyfob) access, as well as additional public safety evaluation and programming," but the agency is still selling a stake of its apartments to developers for $250 million and another $150 million in renovations to raise revenue.
As Stringer's audit points out, NYCHA has unmet capital needs of more than $6 billion, and needs $18 billion "to bring all of its developments into good repair."