Bill de Blasio blasts NYCHA repair backlog

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, left, and state Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, right, stand outside the Smith Houses on the Lower East Side. Credit: Anna Sanders/Metro
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, left, and state Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, right, stand outside the Smith Houses on the Lower East Side.
Credit: Anna Sanders/Metro

The city’s Public Housing Authority faces a backlog of nearly 220,000 repairs—including broken air conditioners, smoke detectors and front doors.

“Of all the problems and challenges facing New Yorkers, the thing we hear about the most is repairs going unmade in NYCHA buildings,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio in front of the Smith Houses on the Lower East Side.

More than 400,000 New Yorkers live in NYCHA buildings. Those tenants wait nine months on average for repairs, according to a report de Blasio’s office released Tuesday analyzing thousands of outstanding work requests to NYCHA through Feb. 15.

“We would never allow someone in private sector to do every day what the Housing Authority does to its tenants,” de Blasio said.

The report revealed that, on average, more than 5,300 air conditioners went unprepared for six months and smoke detectors and sprinklers waited for repairs for more than 200 days. Some 2,500 doors were unfixed after an average of 150 days.

“People are vulnerable to crime, they’re vulnerable to danger,” de Blasio said, adding, “I don’t think the mayor would like it if the lock to his front door didn’t work.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the housing authority announced an “aggressive” plan to tackle more than 420,000 outstanding repairs in January. Since then, the authority has reduced the number of repairs by nearly 50 percent to 219,584 as of July 1.

For such a decrease, the city would have had to make at least 1,200 repairs every day including weekends. A NYCHA spokesman said 10,000 repair work orders are closed each day, with some 9,000 opened on average per day.

“Over the past months, staff members have directed significant time, energy and resources throughout the five boroughs to resolve numerous maintenance and repair requests allowing the Authority to reduce the outstanding number of work orders,” said the spokesman in a statement.

The spokesman explained NYCHA also redistributed staff and targeted residents with similar repairs in groups. Though NYCHA hired 565 more employees to support the reduction plan, de Blasio remained skeptical.

“NYCHA’s not leveling with the people about what’s really going on,” de Blasio said.

Monique Harris, the secretary of the tenant association at the Smith Houses, said she tries to keep up with repairs in her apartment, but there are some she can’t do on her own.

“Something that you think might be a typical repair, you don’t know how bad it can be,” said Harris, 33, who has an asthmatic 6-year-old daughter. “You don’t know what kind of medical issues a lot of the people have.”

State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, who represents 18,000 public housing tenants on the Lower East Side, said his office constantly hears that basic repairs aren’t made by the Housing Authority.

“We’re going to see some change in the city next year,” said Kavanagh, alluding to November’s election. “But tenants in the city cannot wait until next year.”

De Blasio and Kavanagh called on the city to be more transparent about when and where repairs are made, as well as to prioritize the maintenance that impacts tenant health.

De Blasio said he would consider the city responsible if anyone were to get hurt if an outstanding repair went unfixed.

“It’s become a matter of life and death,” de Blasio said.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.


Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.


After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.


'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.


Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

GAMES Hudson Common Open Aug. 21, 7 p.m. Hudson Common 356 W. 58 St. Free, The U.S. Open begins on Monday, but most of…


Review: Sadly, Matthew Weiner's 'Are You Here' is…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner tries his hand at movies with "Are You Here," a misjudged Owen Wilson-Zach Galifianakis comedy that turns into a drama.


Review: 'Love is Strange' is not only a…

John Lithgow and Alfred Molina tie the knot in "Love is Strange," but the film winds up being more about living with people than an activist picture.


2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)


2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)


Shane Greene travels unlikely road to Yankees stardom

Shane Greene was throwing a bullpen session on a quiet field at Daytona Beach Community College one day when the ball started moving.


2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL tight ends (TE)


Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…


Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…


Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…


Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…