The New York City Housing Authority has failed to maintain hundreds of playgrounds in public housing developments across the city, Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said, putting thousands of children at risk.
Stringer’s office released an audit on Wednesday that found the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) did not properly maintain 549 — nearly 70 percent — of its 788 playgrounds.
Those playgrounds, according to the audit, had conditions including missing and broken equipment, some with “exposed, jagged edges,” loose or otherwise damaged safety surfaces like mats and tiles and broken or deteriorated benches.
“Jagged exposed metal that could wound a toddler, sharp edges on slides that could slash a child and surfaces that could potentially send our youngest New Yorkers to the hospital emergency room,” Stringer said at a press conference. “The conditions are decrepit.”
These conditions, Stringer said, came to be in part because of NYCHA’s inspection process.
For 25 developments where hazardous conditions were found, the comptroller’s office looked into NYCHA’s required monthly inspection reports over a 17-month period. Twenty-four of those developments failed to report any hazardous playground conditions in need of repair.
That is in contrast, Stringer said, with the “clearly visible hazards” seen and photographed by auditors.
Nine developments filed more than a dozen “inaccurate” inspection reports within two months of the audit, according to Stringer, meaning they omitted hazards that the auditors themselves specifically identified. Twelve developments filed no inspection reports in that time period at all.
The 25 developments investigated in total filed 124, or 29 percent, of the 425 monthly inspection reports required in that time period.
“Just when we should be helping our kids achieve their dreams, NYCHA is making play spaces a nightmare,” Stringer said. “So today, not just as Comptroller, but as a father of two little boys who use playgrounds, I’m not asking, I’m demanding NYCHA inspect every single one of its playgrounds to determine their safety.”
“Not next week, not next month. We are not having ‘lead paint two,’” Stringer added, referring to last fall when it came to light that NYCHA failed to conduct required annual lead inspections.
In an emailed statement, NYCHA said that it is committed to “providing safe, clean and connected communities” for everyone in public housing.
“We had an external auditor review all of our playgrounds and are already taking steps to correct hazardous conditions within 90 days,” the statement continued. “We have accepted most of the recommendations and are working towards implementing them now.”