On Tuesday, February 8, 2021, NYCHA Federal Monitor Bart M. Schwartz and Resident Engagement Monitoring Team Leader Asha Muldro hosted the fifteenth meeting of the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) via Zoom. A recording of the meeting is available on the NYCHA Monitor’s YouTube channel.
During his opening remarks, Mr. Schwartz expressed his appreciation for the hard-working members on the CAC. He specifically noted the safety and security issues at NYCHA have been give more attention after CAC members began addressing them during meetings. As a result, these issues will be included to be addressed in NYCHA’s Transformational Plan.
Mr. Schwartz congratulated two former members of the CAC on their new roles. Former Council Member and Committee on Public Housing Chair, Alicka Ampry-Samuel, was appointed by President Biden to serve as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Regional Administrator for Region II, which covers New York and New Jersey. In addition, Daniel W. Sherrod from HUD’s Office of Field Operations, will be the new chief operating officer at NYCHA.
Mr. Schwartz also reported on the results of the monitoring team’s surprise inspections of 75 boiler rooms at NYCHA developments. The monitoring team found that 30 hot water tanks were inoperable, and some needed immediate repair. The monitoring team is working intensively with NYCHA’s heating department to resolve issues and determine why the heating department did not service all the developments during the warm weather months.
Ms. Muldro introduced Jeff Evans who will serve as the new director at HUD’s Office of Field Operations. Mr. Evans previously worked very closely with Mr. Sherrod on the NYCHA monitorship since the beginning of the assignment.
Ms. Muldro then turned the meeting’s attention on updates from initiatives that began in the CAC meetings and brainstorming new ideas for 2022. Highlights included:
- NYCHA Executive Vice President for Strategy and Innovation, Eva Trimble, reported that NYCHA received 18,000 responses from its annual review survey. Feedback on the new recertification process was not as positive as they anticipated. CAC Member, Manny Martinez, believes the negative impact may be a result of the lack of help residents receive from housing assistants (HAs) during the recertification process. Many residents are not comfortable with technology and need assistance. He suggested creating a script for HAs to reference, as well as customer service training for the HAs.
- Monitoring Team Member, Chuck Fax, talked about implementing a Resident Ambassador Program to help alleviate difficulties exterminators experience when accessing resident units for scheduled remediations. The Program will help streamline communications regarding residents’ availability and help accelerate the process. The team is seeking ways to obtain resources to compensate ambassadors. Mr. Martinez also suggested better communication with residents when compactors break down and they are directed to throw garbage outside. He proposed having a dedicated outdoor space that is easily identifiable and communicated to residents.
- Battalion Chief at the New York City Fire Department, Michael Kirwin, informed members that the new key fobs have been distributed and they are working on acquiring hard keys for those NYCHA facilities that do not use fobs. He also explained that anytime the FDNY responds to an elevator incident and the elevator is disabled, NYCHA is notified. In addition, all fire department companies are aware that all entry doors are under video and radio surveillance. If an entrance door is damaged it will be investigated by the Department to determine why.
- Schwartz announced that the writing for the next section of the operation plan has been completed. He suggested that NYCHA create a summary. Ms. Trimble confirmed that the team is working on an abridged version of the plan for when it is final.
- New York City Police Department Deputy Inspector, Howard Gottesman, highlighted some of the latest crime statistics. He reminded everyone about the NYPD Crime Stoppers Program and anonymous tip line, as well as to call 311 for homelessness issues. He requested for residents to contact the police department if they are aware of any motorcycles inside the buildings and to utilize the Interest of Justice Programs should they feel fearful of living in their current development and require a transfer.
- Community Engagement Monitoring Team Leader, Edna Handy, provided an overview of the new NYCHA Capital Tracker currently under development. Ms. Trimble confirmed that it is about 75% built out.
- Trimble provided an update on tailored scripts for CCC representatives to utilize specifically when addressing calls from Community Center leaders. The script is currently with NYCHA’s IT group for further implementation.
- NYC Department for the Aging Senior Director, Bureau of Community Services, Agnes Mak, announced the new nutrition programs for seniors, including a workshop presented in both English and Spanish, as well as the implementation of live cooking demonstrations via Zoom.
The meeting concluded with Ms. Muldro reminding all attendees and committee members that the next CAC meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 12, 2022. The next community meeting will be held on Monday, March 21, 2022, with a focus on the Brooklyn community.