NYCHA still hasn’t really changed
Anyone moving into a city public-housing unit surely knew it meant a risk of lead poisoning or toxic mold: So argued lawyers for the New York City Housing Authority in a recent brief — providing fresh proof that not nearly enough has changed at NYCHA.
The agency’s chief even (sort of) admits it: “We are not viewed currently as a competent organization, we are not viewed as a credible organization,” interim NYCHA chair Stanley Brezenoff said at a Citizens Budget Commission event Wednesday.
Just drop the “viewed as,” and you’ve got it.
Yes, Brezenoff only took over in April. It’s not his fault NYCHA is hopelessly short of cash to cover $32 billion in needed repairs, nor even that his predecessors secretly spent $10 million on outside lawyers to try to fend off the federal investigation that uncovered massive systematic deception all across the agency.
No, Brezenoff is simply the guy dragged in to help out (at age 83!) by Mayor Bill de Blasio — who left NYCHA to rot for his first four years, refusing to consider anything resembling reform even after winning office with stalwart vows to deliver for the “other New York.”
(And, yes, the mayor for 12 years before that shares plenty of blame: Mike Bloomberg had better be ready for NYCHA questions in the 2020 presidential primaries.)
Yet Brezenoff’s top issue now seems to be questioning the consent decree that resulted from that federal investigation. Specifically, he’s warning that giving the incoming federal monitor a say in the agency’s day-to-day operation will mean “disaster.”
Hmm: That leaves him agreeing with Judge William Pauley III, who’s overseeing the federal settlement — except that Pauley is asking if installing a monitor is remotely enough to address NYCHA’s dysfunction.
After all, Brezenoff admits he’s left doing “triage” because he simply lacks the resources to repair thousands of apartments. And he has neither the power nor the political backing to resort to the radical steps required to get the cash, or to slash costs.
The best hope for NYCHA’s 400,000-plus residents is for New York to follow the rest of America and give up on the idea of government-owned and -operated public housing. Half-measures will only allow the decay to continue.
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