Court cases for NYCHA tenants show steady rise in Manhattan, from 6,560 cases in 2014 to 7,672 cases in 2016
By LOUIS FLORES
The New York City Housing Authority has released records about the legal actions the Municipal public housing agency has been engaged with in respect of its tenants for the three (3) year period between 2014 and 2016. The records were released in response to an open records request filed under the State's Freedom of Information Law, or FOIL. The records, produced in the form of three spreadsheets, have been made publicly available by Progress Queens on Archive.org.
The information released by NYCHA reveals that the Municipal public housing agency faced off against its own tenants in 25,765 legal actions in 2014. The number of legal actions remained almost unchanged in 2015, at 25,982. However, the total number of legal actions jumped to 27,207 in 2016.
According to data analysis conducted by Progress Queens, the information contained in the FOIL Response made by NYCHA indicated that legal proceedings broadly classified as related to HP Actions, which represent Housing Court cases initiated over physical condition standards of apartments, were on the rise over the three year period. In 2014, the data revealed that broad categories related to HP Actions totaled 928 Court cases. In 2015, the number of broadly-classified HP Action cases totaled 1,298. In 2016, the comparable number of HP Action Court cases totaled 1,394, representing a rise of 49 per cent. over the relevant period.
NYCHA is currently subject to the supervision of a Special Master appointed in a class action Federal Lawsuit over the Municipal public housing agency's inability to timely remove toxic mold from public housing developments. The Hon. U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley is over-seeing that Federal class action case. Separately, NYCHA has been the reported target of a multi-year investigation being led by the U.S. Attorney's Office for New York's southern district, now headed by Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim, over the physical condition standards of its public housing developments. That Federal investigation has been reported to be focusing on conditions leading to the exposure, and the risk of exposure, to lead in public housing developments.
The FOIL Release did not exactly answer all of the categories of records being sought under the FOIL Request filed by Progress Queens. Progress Queens initially sought records that included information about how many Court cases ended with eviction or voluntary surrender of apartments. Information provided by NYCHA showed how many Court cases were broadly classified as Court actions related to the nonpayment of rent, a category of Court cases that could possibly lead to tenants being removed from their apartments. However, NYCHA did not provide Court case disposition information that included the number of times public housing tenants were evicted from, or voluntarily surrendered, their apartments. A follow-up request made by Progress Queens to the Municipal public housing agency seeking that information was not immediately answered.
The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) has made it a priority to champion an aggressive building boom of rental and condominium apartment buildings supported by costly Government incentives, such as property tax abatements. Despite publicly declaring a goal early in his administration to build or preserve 200,000 affordable apartments, Mayor de Blasio has ignored conditions at the City's Housing Courts that have anecdotally been noted to reflect a City facing an undisputed housing crisis.
Mayor de Blasio ; New York City Councilmember Ritchie Torres (D-Fordham), chair of the Council committee on public housing ; and NYCHA CEO Shola Olatoye each support converting public housing into Section 8 housing, the latter which qualifies for privatisation to real estate developers and investors.
Index of key documents :
- NYCHA 2016 Cases Commenced (FOIL Response to Progress Queens) [Archive.org]
- NYCHA 2015 Cases Commenced (FOIL Response to Progress Queens) [Archive.org]
- NYCHA 2014 Cases Commenced (FOIL Response to Progress Queens) [Archive.org]
- 2017-09-13 NYCHA Acknowledgement - Housing Court FOIL Request (Progress Queens) [Archive.org]
- 2017-09-08 NYCHA - Housing Court FOIL Request (Progress Queens) [Archive.org]