In 2018, the US Attorneys’ Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) filed a lawsuit against the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) alleging that NYCHA was not adhering to U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations and failing to provide decent, safe, and sanitary living conditions to its more than 400,000 residents. After admitting to the facts that were alleged, NYCHA entered into a five-year agreement with HUD, the SDNY, and New York City, which established a framework for a monitorship and set forth the monitor’s powers and duties, as well as NYCHA’s obligations and the timelines in which they were to be achieved. Bart M. Schwartz was appointed as that monitor.

Guidepost Solutions

The monitor’s focus throughout the five years was on the seven pillars of the HUD agreement: lead, mold, heat, elevators, pests, waste, and inspections. In the first year of the monitorship, the monitoring team visited 326 developments. Over the five years, the team met with thousands of residents and leaders, addressed more than 3,600 phone complaints, 2,300 email complaints, and resolved some 150 concerns raised during the monitoring team’s community meetings. Under the Guidepost monitoring team, NYCHA was able to make considerable progress which is and will continue to benefit residents. An overview of accomplishments include:

  • Implementing the TEMPO lead-program that accelerated the abatement of lead-based paint in apartments where children under the age of six live or visited more than 10 hours a week.
  • Upgrading ventilation with the installation of 6,188 new roof fans and cleaning of 74,000 bathroom vents, achieving a greater than 50% reduction in confirmed mold cases.
  • Using effective pest control methods and protocols that improved NYCHA’s pest response times considerably.
  • Improved sanitary conditions by committing to removing or storing waste at each building once a day.
  • A reorganized Heat department with additional staff, updated procedures, and improved staff training that reduced the number and duration of heat outages.
  • Conducting preventative elevator maintenance which has reduced service outages by an average of 30% – 55%.
  • Exposing vendor misconduct including bribery between some NYCHA staff members and vendors and poor-quality work performed by vendors.

Benefit to the Client

At the conclusion of the five-year term, the monitor reported that NYCHA will need to continue to have significant oversight to accomplish the objectives of the agreement and that improved management will yield better results without additional funding for operations. He also reported that NYCHA has the foundation and opportunity to become a well-run and respected authority.

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