In an attempt to hold the feet of state officials to the fire, the de Blasio administration has penned a letter to New York State Budget Director, Robert Mujicia, urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to release $250 million dedicated in the state’s 2019 fiscal year budget.
In the letter, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen listed a number of priority NYCHA projects that are awaiting allocated funds from the state before crucial repairs can be made. The public housing developments highlighted in the letter are among those that need upgrades made to their heat and hot water systems, after many of the 32,000 residents that live within the developments went without heat or hot water during the course of this winter.
“The State budget passed on Friday evening allocated a further $250 million to the New York City Housing Authority,” writes Glen in the letter. “Public housing tenants deserve that funding to be quickly applied to NYCHA’s most pressing needs. And that means this funding cannot be held hostage to the same delays and dynamics as in previous years.”
The letter goes on to identify 63 “poorly rated boilers and decoupling heat and hot water” in 14 developments that the $250 million provided by the State is to be applied to. All of the boilers on the list have been poorly rated in the past, meaning that they are often plagued by outages with little to no means of replacing failed parts.
“It is critical we begin design work this spring. With design-build authority granted to NYCHA in the State budget, combined with recent reforms across City agencies, we can deliver these projects in 18 to 24 months—an aggressive timeframe,” notes Glen. “The City has already initiated the required approval process with HUD. But the clock on actual design work can only begin once the State has released funding.”
Over the course of the winter, some 323,098 residents were without heat at some point between October 1 and January 22, with outages lasting 48 hours on average.
In February, the Citywide Council of Presidents (CCOP), who represents public housing tenants, along with At-Risk Community Services, filed a lawsuit against the NYCHA for failing to “uphold their legal obligations to protect the health and safety of public housing residents,” as a result of the outages, along with other serious issues.