On Tuesday, January 10, 2023, the Federal Monitor, Bart M. Schwartz, hosted a meeting with resident association board members to provide an overview of the NYCHA Federal Monitorship and talk about what needs to be done to meet the goals of the HUD Agreement. The meeting, “Conversation with the NYCHA Federal Monitor,” was held virtually and a recording is available on the NYCHA Monitor YouTube channel. While the primary intent of the meeting was to introduce newly elected resident representatives to the Monitor and the Monitorship, all resident leaders were invited, and many attended.
During his opening remarks, Mr. Schwartz pointed out how the monitorship and HUD Agreement came about. He explained that the HUD Agreement provides that the Monitor does not have responsibility for NYCHA’s day-to-day operations; but rather focus on improvements as outlined in the Agreement.
Mr. Schwartz thanked the residents for attending and explained how their input helps the monitoring team better understand the issues within the developments.
Mr. Schwartz mentioned NYCHA’s improved performance during the preventative heat season; rent arrears and how they affect the NYCHA budget; the pending Emergency Rent Assistance Program applications and how they are causing a serious rent arrears problem for NYCHA; the problems at Riis; and the Monitor’s role working with the NYC Department of Investigation on the Riis issues. Also discussed was the priority given by the Monitor from the beginning to protect children under six who might be exposed to lead based paint. and how well NYCHA has responded to this .
Mr. Schwartz directed residents to the NYCHA Monitor website to read the actions plans that detail further commitments by NYCHA.
Project Associate for the NYCHA Federal Monitor, Floretta Hudson, walked through the agenda for the meeting and showed a brief video about the NYCHA Federal Monitor and how it came about. The video can be viewed here.
Ms. Hudson then polled participants to gain a better understanding of the effectiveness of the Monitoring team’s communication efforts. Results are as follows:
- About 77% of residents knew about the Federal Monitor prior to this meeting.
- Only 30% have visited the NYCHAmonitor.com website.
- Most residents prefer to receive emails and attend community meetings to get updates.
Deputy Monitor, Dan Brownell provided an update on some of the significant improvements related to heat but emphasized that issues still exist within the developments. He presented a Heat Trend Analysis Report with detailed data related to heat outages and discussed the surprise inspections conducted by the monitoring team.
Mr. Brownell reminded residents to contact NYCHA’s Customer Contact Center when they experience an issue and to contact the NYCHA Monitor if their issue is not being addressed.
During the public session of the meeting residents had the opportunity to express their concerns and ask questions. Highlights included:
- A further explanation of Action Plans as a tool for the Monitor to change NYCHA’s behavior. The plans are being distributed to all attendees and are available on the Monitor website.
- Better communication from NYCHA about heat issues and the effectiveness of their robocalls
- Concerns for elderly residents during a major heat outage
- Understanding the purpose of the sensors placed in apartments
- Implementing a ban on motorized scooters and electric bikes on NYCHA properties
Ms. Hudson shared resident spotlights including a resident who planned a Toys for Tots project during the holiday season and a Polo Grounds resident being honored by her development for 25 years of volunteer service.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Schwartz clarified that these meetings are not the only way to speak with the monitoring team and encouraged residents to contact the Monitor when their issues are not being addressed by NYCHA.