After massive corruption sweep, how can NYCHA be fixed?

NYCHA is under a harsh spotlight after a recent federal investigation saw dozens of staffers who were responsible for maintaining the housing developments arrested on corruption charges. 

Now, a federal monitor is trying to hold the troubled agency accountable while many residents are still dealing with basic challenges like flooding and a lack of services.

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The announcement by US Attorney Damian Williams came as a shock, that 70 current and former NYCHA staffers were allegedly involved in a pay-for-play bribery scheme with contractors. 

Williams says the schemes were active for more than a decade in over 100 developments. 

One of the developments was the Frederick Douglass Houses on the Upper West Side where a former superintendent was one of those charged. Resident Association President Carmen Quinones says the person arrested left the post in 2021, and while there are almost daily problems for her residents like flooding and no heat, at least now the new person is more responsive.

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"We have a new supervisor, and we have new people here, so we're working on getting things done. I keep my finger on the pulse with them, but there are too many problems here," Quinones said.

NYCHA has more than 300 developments across all 5 boroughs of New York City and provides affordable homes to hundreds of thousands of residents - a population roughly the size of Miami.

Over the years, as the aging infrastructure was not maintained and repair costs mounted, the amount of money needed skyrocketed, says New York Times reporter Mihir Zaveri. 

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"I was just pulling up the numbers. In 2006, they estimated they needed $7 billion to do adequate repairs. That number is now $78 billion dollars," Zaveri said. "It's staggering. When you have that level of need and the money that's coming from any pool doesn't match that level every year, it's a downward spiral."

Under pressure from many directions, political leaders are now seeking new management methods with different financing models. 

Most developments, like Douglass Houses, are still under the basic HUD model, called Section 9.  The Obama administration came up with a new 2nd option of private management - as we saw in the Betances Houses in the Bronx in my 2021 report.


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In 2022, Gov Hochul signed legislation creating the New York City Public Housing Preservation Trust. It gives residents a third option and access to new funding sources. 

In December 2023, residents of the Nostrand Houses in Sheepshead Bay became the first development to vote on their management choice, and they went for the Preservation Trust, also known as PACT. 

"I felt like every tenant had a right to have another public option because the Preservation Trust is another public option," said Nostrand Houses Resident Association President Barbara McFadden.