The federal government will provide a monitor and more oversight to improve NYCHA’s deteriorating conditions, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer argued that what the city’s public housing really needs is more capital from Washington, D.C.
Schumer, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez and other elected officials gathered at the Alfred E. Smith Houses Sunday and called on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to allocate $1.2 billion in funding to NYCHA in the next budget. Schumer contended that NYCHA has been grossly underfunded for years and that the money is needed for ongoing issues, including faulty boilers, poor pest control and lead paint hazards.
"We’ve have had a lot of words, but we haven’t gotten any money," Schumer said.
Last month, HUD, federal prosecutors and the city agreed to settle a lawsuit faulting NYCHA for failing to abide by lead paint protocols and to meet other housing standards. Under the agreement, NYCHA will remain under the city’s control, but a recently-appointed monitor, former federal prosecutor Bart Schwartz, will oversee the authority, and the federal government will help pick its next chair person and CEO.
The settlement requires the city to invest at least $2.2 billion in NYCHA over the next decade, and Velazquez said the state and federal governments should also be contributing more to the authority.
"It is the responsibility for every level of government to act," Velazquez said.
Aixa Torres, president of the Alfred E. Smith Tenant Association, said HUD needs to part of the financial solution at NYCHA.
"We have to stand together and tell the federal government, ‘We’re not asking; we’re not begging; we’re demanding [more funding]," Torres said. "We’re taxpayers."
Representatives from HUD did not return messages for comment.
But Schumer said he had a productive talk last week with the agency’s head, Ben Carson, about the request for additional funding.
"He said, ‘That seems reasonable,’" Schumer said of Carson. "He seemed to be cooperative."