The New York City Housing Authority took an average of 49 days to resolve non-emergency repair requests from tenants, two and a half times longer than in 2019, according to the Mayor’s Management Report, the city’s annual newsletter on how its agencies are performing.
But that only counts applications closed during that year and not the tens of thousands that were still open.
In fact, NYCHA’s own internal data shows that over the past year it actually took an average of 310 days to resolve an open non-emergency repair request – six times longer than MMR claimed and twenty times the target period of 15 days. the housing office has settled for less complex repairs.
And it’s with the NYCHA tradespeople who do the work. When the housing authority relies on external suppliers, the average repair time extends up to 500 days.
As delays pile up, so do the demands for repairs. NYCHA reported 646,990 open work tickets at the end of August – a record high and a 36% increase from the 475,000 open applications at the end of 2020.
At the East River Houses in East Harlem, for example, the number of unresolved repair requests rose 40% over last year, from 4,370 last August to 5,220 in August.
“They didn’t want to do anything”
One of those open tickets – not yet in the MMR tally as it counts closed tickets – belongs to East River Houses tenant Stephanie Pagan, whose apartment was overtaken by mold problems last year, plumbing and electricity that made it difficult to eat or breathe — because of her asthma — in the apartment where she has lived for 11 years.
“All these food stamps that I can’t use because I can’t put food in the fridge,” Pagan said, showing THE CITY the brown mold that dominates his kitchen.
Pagan works as an assistant property manager at Plymouth Church and Plymouth Church School in Brooklyn Heights, but comes home to a deteriorating space beyond her control. She suspects some of the damage is due to a leak that happened two floors above her last year – in the flat of a tenant who died earlier this year.
“I need help. Plumbing, electrical, mold – you name it, I pretty much have it all,” Pagan told THE CITY. that they come to see my leaks to repair them and they came without problem. But it was like, how many times am I going to have the same leak in the bathroom?
Pagan was calling the fire department, she explained, because “the breakdown box was making crackling noises because there’s water leaking in the wall from above.” Firefighters had to “go knock on every door” to check for children or “anyone breathing” living there, she said, because of the danger.
In the meantime, the problems in her apartment only got worse. “The electrician will say, ‘I can’t touch the wires because they’re wet.’ The plumber is like ‘I can’t do my job because the water is always flowing,’” Pagan said. “And then they’ll just cancel. They won’t even show up. They would simply cancel it. They didn’t want to do anything. They just closed my ticket.
These issues are currently being addressed, NYCHA spokesperson Rochel Leah Goldblatt told THE CITY. “There was a ruptured pipe on the sixth floor and repairs were made in mid-September. Plasterers and painters are scheduled for this week and early next week to perform repairs on the fifth floor and will assess and schedule repairs on lower floors based on resident availability.
The apartment with the leak has been padlocked since the death of its tenant. Pagan said that person was not found for about a week.
” You feel it ? Pagan spoke of the acrid stench as he walked from his fourth to sixth floor.
“She was an accumulator,” she continued. “The brown liquid leaking in my drains is from this apartment.”
This issue is also being addressed, according to NYCHA. “The leak in apartment 6B was mitigated when the deceased was discovered in May, but the apartment was immediately padlocked by the public administrator and substantial repairs could not be carried out until October 3,” said said Goldblatt, the NYCHA spokesperson. “The apartment was completely gutted and received extreme cleaning services provided by a specialist seller. Additional cleaning services are scheduled until it is fully sanitized.
As THE CITY spoke with Pagan last week, two inspectors showed up to assess the apartment, take photos and listen to Pagan’s complaints. After about 10 minutes, they realized there was a reporter there, and left and told Pagan to talk to the building manager.
Prior to this, they had told Pagan that her flat needed major work and offered to move her to a flat in another public housing project while this was being done.
But it’s a no-start, said Pagan, who wondered if the work might have been less intrusive if the damage had been dealt with months earlier.
“The water leak, it’s been going on for over a year,” Pagan said. “Last year I had to be away so many days because they broke the wall between the kitchen and the bathroom and that’s the same wall they’re still fixing.”
“I don’t want to move. My family is here. I lived here for 11 years,” she said. “But I don’t want to live here while they fix all this.”
So much for the “unleaded”
System-wide, NYCHA blamed the number of repairs and their longer delays on the repair work pause that was instituted as part of the city’s efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 and the overall deterioration of their aging portfolio. Most of the Authority’s 320 developments were built in the 1950s and 1960s, and some date to the 1930s.
This is all taking place despite unprecedented oversight of the struggling agency, which resulted from a 2019 deal with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development that brought in a federal comptroller to get things back on track. .
The deal follows a devastating investigation by the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan that found NYCHA management concealed and lied about the outrageous conditions in its 175,000 apartments for years.
Under the January 2019 agreement, NYCHA is required to meet specific timelines to upgrade heating systems and elevators, and to address the scourge of toxic mold caused by long-standing water leaks in aging pipes.
The agreement also requires NYCHA to remove lead paint, which is clearly ubiquitous in apartments at East River Houses. Since NYCHA began retesting developments that had previously been declared lead-free, 470 of 533 units tested there, or 88%, have recorded the presence of lead paint – including Pagan’s apartment.