Manhattan Community Meeting Recap: May 9, 2023

On Tuesday, May 9, 2023, at 6:00 PM EDT, NYCHA Federal Monitor, Bart M. Schwartz, and Project Associate for the NYCHA Federal Monitor, Floretta Hudson, hosted a community meeting for Brooklyn residents, tenant association presidents, elected officials, and community leaders. The meeting was held via Zoom and a recording is available on the NYCHA Monitor YouTube channel.

Mr. Schwartz opened the meeting with an update on funds allocated to NYCHA via the New York State budget. The total amount allocated was $298 million with the following breakdown:

  1. $135 million for capital expenditures
  2. $128 million for Emergency Rent Assistance Program (ERAP)
  3. $35 million for operating expenses

Mr. Schwartz commended NYCHA for their excellent work performance with regard to ventilation and duct cleaning despite delays, some of which were due to weather.  The data comes from NYCHA dashboards, which showed that NYCHA had more than 1,700 new mold cases in October 2021. The number was reduced to an average of under 700 per month for the first quarter of 2023. Mr. Schwartz noted that this was not a scientific sampling but there were no other major changes to account for this reduction. The Monitoring Team anticipates further reductions when NYCHA completes the bathroom enclosure project.

NYCHA Deputy Monitor, Daniel Brownell highlighted the following two key areas that will be the focus of two upcoming Monitor reports:

  1. The Monitoring team submitted a Safety and Security proposal to NYCHA’s chief operating officer that included steps toward improving safety and security. The proposal outlines the need to have a safety technician with a law enforcement background assigned to each NYCHA neighborhood and for NYCHA to coordinate internally and partner with other agencies to support and assist the safety technicians.
  2. The Monitoring team piloted a strategy in two developments that focused on improving elevator maintenance. The strategy included a dedicated maintenance team for elevators to prevent other workers from being pulled away from their normal maintenance responsibilities whenever there is an elevator outage. This strategy resulted in a dramatic decline in elevator outages in the two developments.

Citywide Council of Presidents (CCOP) Inc., President, Danny Barber, spoke about the success of the Citywide resident trip to Albany to fight for ERAP inclusion/funds during a rally at the Governor’s office. He also introduced the formation of 10 CCOP committees and encouraged development leaders to contact their District Council of Presidents representative to join a committee.

Fire Department of the City of New York Battalion Chief, Michael J. Thomson, provided updates on the status of the elevator training video and key distribution initiative to avoid breaking elevator and entrance doors which will ultimately reduce the number of repairs and repair times.

Deputy General Counsel from the New York City Office of Housing Recovery Operations, Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad, announced that the updated Capital Tracker will launch in June 2023. NYCHA has conducted several user sessions with community advisor groups such as CCOP and the Resident Roundtables. More user sessions will be conducted using NYCHA’s staff and they are exploring options of sorting through feedback for implementation.

NYCHA Community Coordinator, Samantha Rogers discussed three pilot projects that materialized from the Resident Roundtable/Safety and Security sub-committee:

  1. The installation of e-Bike storage/charging stations at four developments: Queensbridge North Houses, Queensbridge South Houses, De Hostos Houses, and Van Dyke Houses.
  2. The commencement of a mental health webinar for all development board members scheduled for May 24, 2023, and held in conjunction with NYCHA’s Resident Participation and Civic Engagement and the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene.
  3. The installation of Amazon lockers at several developments to reduce the number of package thefts.

Ms. Rogers also mentioned that the installation of higher security gates at two Manhattan development parking lots resulted in a decrease in car thefts.

During the meeting, residents had the opportunity to comment, provide recommendations, and ask questions. The most serious issues were the pattern of complaints about the scheduling of work order repairs. Other concerns included:

  • Educating developments on how to eliminate rodent issues within apartment units and/or providing tenants with the ability to connect with someone who can be of service when a live rodent is inside an apartment unit.
  • Ensuring the ventilation and duct cleaning is also being done at Frederick Douglas Houses.
  • Receiving copies of the capital budget
  • Receiving information on the Resident Roundtables
  • Addressing the serious security problems at White Houses including damaged front doors because of vandalism and FDNY responses to emergencies.
  • Addressing safety concerns related to e-bikes and motorcycles.
  • Fixing broken locks at Drew Hamilton Houses which has left the development doors unlocked for many years, allowing non-tenants to enter their building and cause other problems.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Schwartz encouraged residents to continue to reach out to the Monitoring team if they are not hearing back from NYCHA’s Customer Contact Center. The Monitoring team can be reached at (844) 309-6080 or (347) 809-5555 or by email at: [email protected].

The next community meeting for Queens residents is scheduled for July 11, 2023.