For some time, the condition of New York City’s public housing has been nothing short of horrendous. Issues with refuse disposal, rodent infestation, mold, lead paint, and unreliable heat and electricity are well documented, as are the amateurish efforts made by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to trick federal inspectors by hiding some of the problems.
Within the past year, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson has visited New York City multiple times to pressure the City to take action. On January 31, 2019, Secretary Carson entered into an agreement with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on the specific steps to be taken to rectify the situation. Unfortunately, according to TheCity.nyc, the Housing Authority is up to some of its old tricks. TheCity.nyc reports that the Housing Authority has recently “suspended three employees for submitting deceptive documentation during HUD inspections.” What kind of “deceptive documentation,” pray tell? “Deceptive documentation” indicating that “‘exigent health and safety deficiencies’” had been corrected when they really hadn’t. The suspended employees will now “enter a hearing process that could take months.”
TheCity.nyc reports that the federal monitor of the Housing Authority is implementing new procedures and employee training to prevent similar problems in the future. The Housing Authority asserts that the new plan “‘perpetuates a cultural change that will involve ongoing training, communications, monitoring, and accountability to ensure [that] change takes root across the agency.’”
At New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, we’re not buying this. If Housing Authority employees are dishonest enough to lie to the federal government, no amount of training will get them to be truthful. Integrity is not a matter of employee training. Furthermore, any “cultural change” that “takes root across the agency” will have to come from the top. Mayor de Blasio can start instilling that cultural change by firing the employees who lied to cover up the squalid conditions at NYCHA facilities. Then, he should focus on actually fixing the problems in New York’s public housing projects instead of just talking about them. No New Yorkers should live without heat, and no New Yorkers should have rats in their kitchens.