AIDS Issues Update Blog

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NYCHA Residents File Lawsuit Against the City for Refusing to Fix Hundreds of Units

Posted by Sunny Bjerk , May 08, 2013

NYCHA Residents File Lawsuit Against the City for Refusing to Fix Hundreds of Units

Image from NY Daily News

News broke last night that NYCHA residents have banded together to sue the city over the state of disrepair and ruin in their public housing buildings.

At least 300 residents of the Alfred E. Smith Houses in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood have filed a lawsuit against the New York City Housing Authority, with some claims and issues that go back decades and have yet to be addressed. Some of the complaints include toxic mold, natural gas outages, leaking ceilings, and broken appliances.

To put things in perspective, in 2013 a total of 420,000 requests for repairs were made across the NYCHA housing system, though on Tuesday they announced they had completed a number of repairs, with only 274,000 requests left. Nevertheless, this reduction remains suspicious, as the NY Daily News discovered workers have been pressured to cancel work orders without conducting the repairs.

What’s more, residents involved in the lawsuit claim that NYCHA will make repairs or fix problems in units if the residents in turn support NYCHA’s plan to lease the land in and around the housing complex to developers. In their suit, the residents claim that their lives and housing are being held hostage by greed. Indeed, NYCHA has been seeking support to lease land across eight Manhattan housing developments in order for thousands of new apartments can be built and rented out at the going marketing rate. Estimates suggest that this agreement will pump $46 million per year into authority coffers.

NYCHA spokesperson Sheila Stainback denied this nefarious intent, only claiming, “Our efforts to eliminate the backlog of open work orders are not at all linked to the land-lease plans,” she said in a statement Tuesday.

However, lawyers for The Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest think differently, and filed the suit April 29th in Manhattan. One of the lawyers working on the case commented, “The number of times I had to type the phrase ‘Rats present in an apartment’ is absolutely outrageous.”

You can view an interview with an Alfred E. Smith resident at NY1.

Stay tuned for updates.

Follow the Update blog on Twitter @housingworks.

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