New York City Public Housing Has Pileup of Repairs, Comptroller’s Audit Finds

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July 15, 2015 by westsideneighborhoodalliance

NYCHA Repairs

Comptroller Scott M. Stringer is recommending investing in technology to track repairs in New York City’s public housing similar to the CompStat program that the Police Department uses to map and respond to crime.

The recommendation came after an audit, released on Monday by Mr. Stringer, found that many repairs in public housing were still being made at a glacial pace, if at all, despite lawsuits and rent strikes by tenants and efforts by the New York City Housing Authority itself, known as Nycha, to improve its ways.

“We’ve got to move on repairs in a real way,” Mr. Stringer said. “That’s called accountability.”

The auditors, who reviewed an 18-month period from January 2013 to July 2014, found a backlog of nearly 55,000 work orders, including more than 2,500 that had been pending for more than a year. They also found that the agency, which gets an average of about 9,000 new work orders a day, understated the number of open orders partly because it counted them as closed if a staff member showed up to do a repair and the tenant was not home.

Housing officials conceded the need for improvement but have blamed most problems on aging buildings and reductions in federal funding, which have led to staff cuts and less money to deal with major maintenance work such as replacing roofs. The officials faulted the audit for not taking into account the new plan that the de Blasio administration announced this year to increase revenues for the agency and make it operate more efficiently.

“Nycha has been very honest and transparent about our challenges with maintenance and repairs,” the agency said in a statement. “Work order data as a sole measure, no matter how the numbers are cut, is a poor measure of performance.”

Mr. Stringer, who has done six audits on the housing authority since taking office last year, said he had found plenty of mismanagement but acknowledged the agency needed more money and technical help to function better.

He said he was seeking to have the CompStat-like monitoring system paid for with $40 million a year for 10 years from the Battery Park City Authority, a state development corporation that keeps a surplus fund for purposes agreed upon by the governor, the mayor and the city comptroller, and already earmarks funds for city housing projects.

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