By LOUIS FLORES
Records obtained by Progress Queens from the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, in response to a request filed under the State's Freedom of Information Law reveal diverging trends between how the troubled housing authority has tracked mold and mildew maintenance requests from its tenants.
For each of 2010 and 2011, for which full-year data was available on a CSV file of service requests for maintenance, NYCHA logged approximately 3,000 service requests that were classified as mold-related. However, in subsequent years, service requests that were classified as mold-related precipitously dropped after 2011.
An opposite pattern was noted for mildew-related service requests. In 2012, an approximate 3,000 jump was recorded in the number of mildew-related service requests, and the yearly number jumped by a staggering 23,000 mildew-related service requests in 2013, increasing by another 9,000 mildrew-related service requests for 2014, before jumping by another 6,000 mildew-related service requests for the partial-year data available for 2015, in round approximate numbers, according to an analysis of NYCHA data performed by Progress Queens using Python programming language searches.
In total, 6,326 records of mold-related service requests and 139,281 records of mildew-related service requests were discovered on the CSV file.
The data analysis was broadly discussed during an interview of the publisher of Progress Queens conducted on Thursday by Michael G. Haskins, the host of The Morning Show on 99.5 FM WBAI. The mold and mildew slides showing the outcome of the data analysis were first published by Progress Queens on Twitter during that interview, noting that the trends for mold and mildew did not follow the trend for overall service requests.
Since some data measurements varied greatly from others, that variability may suggest inaccuracy or incompleteness with NYCHA's underlying data.
That NYCHA has inexplicably reported a substantial decrease in mold-related service requests as it inexplicably has reported a substantial increase in mildew-related service requests may suggest that NYCHA may be shifting service requests to a classification that may trigger less public concern. Although mold and mildew are both fungi that grow as a result of moisture and leaks, the spectre of mold growth incites greater concern for public health.
Because NYCHA has experienced years of underfunding by the Government, it is financially unable to undertake major capital repairs, like addressing leaks and mold remediation and abatement.
The unexplained decrease in mold-related service requests also fly in the face of a class action lawsuit filed by NYCHA tenants, seeking mold remediation and abatement.
As discussed during the WBAI interview, there has been no political pressure brought to bear on NYCHA leadership to meet its obligation to provide tenants with apartments that do not create health hazards.
Supervision by the New York City Council, which has oversight powers in respect of NYCHA, has thus far not held NYCHA leadership to account. Advance questions submitted by Progress Queens to the office of New York City Councilmember Ritchie Torres (D-Fordham), chair of the City Council committee on public housing, were never answered for a report published by Progress Queens on Monday about concerns over the prevalence of lead in NYCHA's public housing developments.
An official with the public affairs office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, DC, has also declined to answer advance questions submitted by Progress Queens.
Because each of Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) previously held leadership posts at the Federal housing funding agency and because both are high-ranking leaders within the Democratic Party, current officers with the Federal housing funding agency may be predisposed against criticism of NYCHA that may embarrass the mayor and governor. The Federal housing funding agency is headed by Secretary Julián Castro, who is a political ally to Mayor de Blasio.
Each of Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo have espoused neoliberal public policies that have been described as "real estate-friendly" in moves designed to reportedly reward real estate developers, who have been identified to be amongst their key campaign supporters.
The lack of material oversight in respect of NYCHA has reportedly triggered a Federal investigation into the physical condition standards at NYCHA's public housing developments. That investigation also reportedly includes a probe of alleged false financial claims.
According to information received by Progress Queens, there is Federal law enforcement interest into how NYCHA may be disposing of its real estate properties. It has already been noted in various, published news reports that there is Federal law enforcement interest into whether Mayor de Blasio has granted official acts to real estate developers, who are amongst his campaign supporters.
Progress Queens has requested an interview with Francis McGovern, a professor at Duke University School of Law. Professor Francis was appointed by the Hon. U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley to serve as special master to oversee NYCHA's compliance with mold remediation and abatement. If an interview is arranged, then Progress Queens will file a new report with information provided by Professor McGovern.
- Despite corruption investigations focused on real estate, de Blasio moves forward on NYCHA infill plan [Progress Queens]
- A Python review of NYCHA data raises new questions about the authority's tracking of lead [Progress Queens]
- NYCHA FOIL response identifies developments that tested positive for lead in water [Progress Queens]