IN THE NEWS : Problems escalate at NYCHA

By LOUIS FLORES

Comptroller Scott Stringer (D-New York City) published an audit on Wednesday of the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, showing that hundreds of apartments sat vacant, some due to unfinished repairs.  Comptroller Stringer's report went public the same day as The New York Daily News published a report in which tenants and community leaders asked that NYCHA CEO Shola Olatoye step down due to on-going problems with unfinished repairs at the troubled housing authority.

Clergy, tenants ask for resignation of NYCHA CEO Shola Olatoye 

NYCHA CEO Olatoye came under attack after leaders of a religious community group, the Metro Industrial Area Foundation, complained that the backlog of repairs of NYCHA's apartments had increased under CEO Olatoye's watch.  

Although the criticisms were centered around the backlog of repairs, which have increased from over 70,000 open tickets to over 120,000, thus far no community groups have criticized NYCHA CEO Olatoye for launching a campaign to privatize NYCHA buildings and undeveloped lots.  As reported by Progress Queens, NYCHA has sold Section 8 buildings to a consortium of real estate developers.  The sale was rationalized on the basis that the buildings were too dilapidated for NYCHA to maintain, even though Progress Queens showed that some of the buildings were refurbished in the time prior to the sale, raising concerns that even though some of the buildings had received improvements, the buildings were still nonetheless subjected to sale under distressed conditions.  Further, the Progress Queens report showed that included in the sale were parking lots, playgrounds, and other open spaces, with NYCHA CEO Olatoye hinting that more sales could take place. 

The call for NYCHA CEO Olatoye to step down was published in a report by The New York Daily News.

NYCHA maintains vacant apartments due to negligence, even as huge numbers seek housing

An audit by Comptroller Stringer showed that that over 2,000 apartments stood vacant at a time when over 270,000 households were on a wait list for NYCHA housing.

The audit faulted NYCHA management for failing to appropriately oversee vacant apartments.

"Notwithstanding NYCHA’s low vacancy rate of only one percent, the audit found that NYCHA had inadequate controls in place over the monitoring and tracking of its vacant apartments," the executive summary of the audit found.

Comptroller Stringer's audit focused on vacant apartments and reflected concerns raised by tenant activist John Fisher, founder of the resource Web site TenantNet, who spoke with Progress Queens last February about mismanagement at the housing agency.  Mr. Fisher raised the issue of the vacant apartments, but housing activists are more concerned that efforts by the de Blasio administration to sell Section 8 buildings and undeveloped lots to private developers are an effort to deregulate rents in public housing, a subject that Comptroller Stinger's office has yet to address.

The executive summary of Comptroller Stringer's NYCHA vacancy report was published on the Office of the Comptroller's Web site.