Thursday, January 15, 2009

Have a NYCHA Day

Errol Louis writes this morning about a protest being conducted by residents of public housing-and provides another example of the less than stellar management acumen of Mike Bloomberg: "At 10 o'clock this morning, a few hours before Mayor Bloomberg delivers his annual State of the City address, a group of demonstrators will be marching outside the headquarters of the New York City Housing Authority, delivering, in protest form, a State of the Projects report.
The march will be led by the council of tenant association presidents, leaders elected by the 400,000-plus NYCHA residents...They want a role in picking a new chairman for the troubled agency, and they are demanding a credible plan to end the chronic funding shortfalls that leave the agency $200 million in the hole each year."

The shortfalls have led to a number of well documented tragedies-which doesn't begin to tell the story of the level of mismanagement and disregard at NYCHA: "That's true. Public housing - intended as stable, safe, affordable living space for working families - charges tenants 30% of their income, using public subsidy to bridge the gap between the rent rolls and the cost of fuel, sanitation, security and basic upkeep. The gap has grown vast in recent years, leading to life-and- death problems chronicled with depressing regularity in the Daily News and elsewhere. The elevator problems get the most attention, like the tragedy at Brooklyn's Taylor-Wythe Houses in which 5-year-old Jacob Neuman died while trying to escape one of the perennially stalled lifts."

The NYCHA tenants have had enough-and are calling for a role in choosing the new chairman of the authority; the well-meaning but bumbling former chairman, Tino Hernandez, has left: "An audit by Controller William Thompson found that it takes NYCHA three years on average, and sometimes as long as five years, to fix a crumbling apartment. And the audit found "no formal coordination of the removal of apartments from the rent roll and relocation of tenants with the estimated time budgets for the rehabilitation projects." Today's protests are residents' way of saying no more. They are demanding input into the selection process as Bloomberg searches for a permanent replacement for Tino Hernandez, who recently resigned as NYCHA chairman."

If this is a no mas moment, than it should be directed at the mayor; since this is simply another area where Mike Bloomberg has fallen flat-another indication why a third term is an affront to New Yorkers. Instead of looking for a Hernandez replacement, NYCHA residents should concentrate on one for the hapless Mike Bloomberg.