Thursday, September 18, 2014

A novel approach to NYCHA repairs

From the NY Times:

IN most of America, when the paint starts to chip or the sink starts to drip, the homeowner fixes it. In New York, a city of renters, he calls the landlord. Or, if he is one of the 400,000 people living in a building owned by the New York City Housing Authority, known as Nycha, he calls maintenance.

That worked pretty well until a few years ago, when cuts in federal subsidies pushed Nycha’s budget into a $77 million deficit. The list of needed repairs grew exponentially over the last decade. Now, according to recent reports, the city’s public housing needs $18 billion in repairs and upgrades.

This comes at the worst possible time, with unemployment among the city’s poor still unacceptably high and the number of households on the public-housing waiting list growing steadily.

Could one problem help solve another? Why couldn’t Nycha train tenants to do basic maintenance? Nycha’s professional staffs would still do the complicated work — roof repair, for example — but with some solid training, almost anyone can replaster a wall. At the same time, training for such work can be a first step toward a steady job.

Clearly, there are obstacles to such a plan. It is always hard to change ingrained customs, and Nycha and its tenants have a longstanding provider-client relationship. And of course this wouldn’t sit well with unions, which are understandably protective of their ranks and would bristle at the idea of training novices to do their work.

But the reality of the situation overwhelms such objections. Over the next four years Nycha is planning to make only $3.92 billion of the $18 billion in needed repairs and upgrades. Arguing over who will make nonexistent repairs is fruitless.

Moreover, should Mayor Bill de Blasio find the funding to build the 200,000 units of affordable housing he has proposed, more able workers will be needed, both while the new units are under construction and after they are occupied.


Anonymous said...

This is what happens to city finances when you give developers tax breaks.

Development never pays for itself with taxes - it is a wealth transfer from the poor to the rich.

Nice that the Democratic Party is at the forefront of this, eh?

Anonymous said...

If these NYCHA tenants are ready, willing, and able enough "to be trained ... to replaster" a wall - they should have been ready, willing and able enough to move to get a job, or get trained for a job that would lift them out of the condition that keeps them as a NYCHA tenant.

Housing, as the liberals tell us, is a right - not conditioned by the requirement to work if you can. So this proposal is a non-starter.

And about that $18 billion? Just surcharge every NYC taxpayer another $10,000. That should at least cover the tenant-caused damage.

Anonymous said...

A novel approach to NYCHA in general: sell the land and be done with creating human holding pens that mix the poor with the criminal.

Middle Villager said...

No one is going to work at making repairs in apartments they do not own. But no worries, when the apartment becomes uninhabitable they can get nice a nice new crib at one of the Homeless Shelters that the City is paying the "not for profits" to run. This is why the "not for profits" are being run by the people that used to head the NYCHA and other agencies. Good business that "non profit".

Anonymous said...

Yet the government insists on building more and more "affordable housing". In another few years, the "affordable housing" infrastructures will just look just as bad as the pjs. Nyc doesn't know how to take care of infrastructures.

Anonymous said...

When are middle class working couples who live in there going to pay at least ,near market rent????

Anonymous said...

Anon No. 6: Have they ever paid "market-rate rents" in these houses? Why now?

Anonymous said...

Half a million people in tax-supported housing. Another 250,000 on the wait list. Is this Soviet Moscow? To each according to his need, from each according to how much we can tax him?