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NYCHA lied about safety, sanitary conditions for years, federal officials say

NYCHA will receive $4 billion over four years from city, state and federal funding to improve housing conditions.
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Could public-private partnerships improve NYCHA conditions? Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The New York City Housing Authority has repeatedly lied about safety and sanitary conditions at public housing developments, putting children, elderly residents and others at risk of health complications, prosecutors say in a federal complaint filed Monday.

Geoffrey Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced both the complaint and a proposed settlement agreement on Monday.

The complaint alleges that NYCHA “for years has violated and continues to violate basic federal health and safety regulations,” such as protecting children from exposure to lead paint, and has also lied to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development about its compliance with those regulations.

New York City has agreed to pay $1.2 billion of additional capital funding to NYCHA over the next five years and $200 million every year after until the problems are fixed.

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NYCHA will receive about $4 billion for capital improvements in the first four years in total from city, state and federal funding.

“NYCHA’s failure to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing is simply unacceptable, and illegal. Children must be protected from toxic lead paint, apartments must be free of mold and pest infestations, and developments must provide adequate heat in winter and elevator service. NYCHA has put its residents at risk,” Berman said in a statement. “Today’s unprecedented settlement will improve life for the 400,000 residents who call NYCHA home, while ensuring accountability, reform, and oversight at this troubled institution.”

“Decades of divestment by the federal and state governments and decades of neglect by New York City government have pushed our public housing system to the brink. I didn’t run for mayor to continue that history. I ran to help turn it around,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “By further acknowledging and providing solutions to a decades-old pattern of mismanagement, divestment and neglect, I am confident this settlement will be a turning point for our public housing system.”