NYCHA and HUD Announce Agreement for Third-Party Monitor
HUD recently reached an agreement with the City of New York and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to provide a new roadmap forward for NYCHA that will address the longstanding issues at the housing authority’s sites.
NYCHA provides housing for low- and moderate-income residents throughout the five boroughs of New York City. It also administers a citywide Section 8 Leased Housing Program in rental apartments. NYCHA is the largest public housing authority in North America. In spite of many problems, it’s still considered by experts to be the most successful big-city public housing authority in the country.
HUD, NYCHA, the City of New York, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) agreed to appoint a monitor over NYCHA. With this agreement, SDNY will move to dismiss its case against NYCHA. The agreement comes after months of negotiations between NYCHA, HUD, and federal prosecutors at SDNY who alleged substandard living conditions due to mold, lead paint, and other hazards. The city and HUD had previously reached a deal, only for a judge to strike it down last year following outraged testimony from residents and advocates.
The agreement establishes a federal monitor to be chosen by HUD and a Manhattan federal judge with “input” from the city. The city will pay the cost of the monitor, who hasn’t yet been named. And the city will commit at least $2.2 billion in funding for NYCHA over the next 10 years. Under the agreement, the monitor will submit quarterly reports to HUD and SDNY, which will be made publicly available.
While the monitor won’t have responsibility for NYCHA’s day-to-day operations, the monitor will have broad powers. The monitor’s power will include access to all NYCHA data systems, documents, programs, services, and facilities, and rights to communicate with employees, board members, and residents. The monitor will oversee NYCHA’s compliance with the agreement and work with NYCHA to develop recommendations for reorganization.
Highlights of the agreement include:
Lead-based paint action plan. NYCHA must develop an action plan for lead-based paint abatement. The agreement gives NYCHA five years to abate lead-based paint in Harlem River Houses and Williamsburg Houses, and although there are milestone requirements along the way, NYCHA has 20 years to achieve lead-based paint abatement in all its developments.
Other physical conditions. The agreement sets out requirements for heating, mold, elevators, pests, and annual inspections.
City funding. The city commits to $1.0 billion over four years and $200 million per year for the six years after that, all in addition to the monitor costs.
New chair/CEO. A new officer will be selected by the city from a list of candidates, all of whom must be agreed to by HUD and SDNY. Unless the agreement is terminated sooner, HUD and SDNY will have the right to consent to chair/CEO candidates for the next 10 years. The agreement gives the city 60 days to compile the list and select a chair.
Reorganization. A management consultant will examine NYCHA’s systems, policies, procedures, and management and personnel structures. The agreement gives the city 60 days to select this consultant, who must be consented to by the monitor. Within six months of the consultant’s report, NYCHA and the monitor must develop an organizational plan to suggest changes to roles, responsibilities, and reporting structures within NYCHA. Organizational changes must include a compliance department to oversee regulatory compliance, an environmental health and safety department, and a quality assurance unit.
Community Advisory Committee. This committee will be comprised of NYCHA stakeholders such as residents, employees, managers, and others and will meet quarterly to discuss progress toward the agreement’s goal. The monitor will also solicit comments directly from residents and other stakeholders.