Assemblyman Jeffries and Public Housing Leaders Demand Federal NYCHA Investigation

Politicians, religious leaders and tenant associations stood in solidarity to fight against poor living conditions in public housing in front of the Farragut Houses on Sunday.

Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries has a simple wish: Residents in Fort Greene’s public housing complexes to have a “decent, humane and safe environment” to call home.

Unfortunately, many residents of the Farragut, Ingersoll and Walt Whitman houses live in apartments that are in vast disrepair and have to for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to fix basic necessities, leaving residents without heat, hot water and decent place to live.  

Jeffries, D-Fort Greene, is calling on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to investigate the “possible mismanagement of federal funds” by NYCHA after the New York Daily News recently revealed that they , while claiming they were broke.

In front of the Farragut Houses on Sunday, Jeffries stood with Rev. Dr. Mark V. C. Taylor of Church of the Open Door, public housing tenant leaders and residents and explained why the federal investigation needs to commence immediately.

“This mismanagement shocks the conscience and requires immediate federal intervention. There are tens of thousands of hardworking decent families who live in this community and…are subjected to living conditions that are inhumane: There are rat infestations, insects, mold, broken elevators, criminal activity that is far too rampant, there are tenants that are given repair dates that two to three years into the future for basic repairs,” Jeffries said to a crowd of Farragut residents. “These living conditions are unsanitary, unsafe and unacceptable.”

Jeffries said that in response to demands for action over the years, NYCHA has consistently claimed that it is broke. But now, he said, it appears that NYCHA has “conducted itself as the boy who cried wolf.”

“If there are approximately $1 billion in unspent federal funds then the facts suggest that NYCHA is not broke but the system to serve tenets is broken,” he said.

Jeffries asks for the government to conduct a federal investigation in NYCHA’s federal funds management and to answer three questions:

  • What happened?
  • Why did it happen?
  • How do we prevent this type of massive financial mismanagement from ever happening again?

Dr. Mark V. C. Taylor, who is the pastor of Church of the Open Door, said he has been living in the Farragut Houses for 22 years and has seen serious neglect of the public housing community. Taylor said he is disappointed his community has suffered quality of life issues and lack of funding while NYCHA actually had the money it claimed it did not have.

Taylor said that federal funds are not being spent democratically and equally between different demographics. He explained that he has seen the neighborhood’s gentrified community benefit from brand new luxury buildings being built while public housing residents live in apartments that are falling apart and won’t be fixed. 

“Our Mayor is on record as being one of the loudest spokesmen against gun violence in the country, but what about economic violence? If you withhold $1 billion dollars [from public housing residents] that is the same as putting a gun to the heads of our community,” Taylor said to the crowd on Nassau Street. “If you withhold $1 billion while you build up luxury apartments and skyscrapers for rich people that is anti-democratic and immoral. The only thing that can restore this trust is to have a federal investigation by the government.”

The 57th Assembly District leader Walter Mosley——asked that the HUD act swiftly with their investigation and give the community solutions.

Dominique Bryant, the president of the Ingersoll tenant association, said that her public housing complex has suffered deterioration for years and NYCHA needs to accept responsibility.

“The issue is accountability,” Bryant said, who has been living in the Ingersoll Houses for 27 years. “As I walk around playground to playground, basketball court to basketball court, all I see is deterioration.”

Bryant said that the playgrounds are falling apart, there are no nets on any of the hoops, many are missing rims and one court only has one hoop. When she asked NYCHA to replace the missing nets and hoops, she was told to put it on a wish list, which was never answered. She believes that the lack of playground equipment and the terrible condition hurts her community.

“We have so much violence going on with our young kids because they have no place to play, they can’t play together in basketball tournaments so guess what? They are playing with guns with each other,” Bryant said.

One Farragut resident, Louise Crite, has been living with unsafe conditions in her apartment for over a year. Her ceiling in the bathroom is leaking and plaster is falling down. Crite said that NYCHA told her the needed repairs won’t be fixed until Dec. 2013.

“If my apartment is bad, there are people who have it much worse,” Crite said while she pointed to where the leak is in the bathroom ceiling. “People’s living conditions are so bad that they have asthma. The worst thing is that my repairs won’t be completed until next December.”

Jeffries said that NYCHA needs to answer their questions and hopefully, thanks to the federal investigation, they will be answered soon.

“There has been significant misappropriation of funds that should have been used to benefit the residents of public housing all across the city of New York,” Jeffries said. “We are here today so the facts can be known and we can turn this around and make sure that the residents of public housing in this community can live with the safety, decency and dignity they deserve.”

pat August 13, 2012 at 04:42 AM
It is happening because everyone is tired of giving away their money to people who will not attempt to get out of poverty on their own merit. Sick and tired of seeing the same tax dollars that go to the inhabitants of these places. Using my money to buy Snicker bars and soda, while their children run around with their snots all over their face and are malnourished. We are all sick and tired of it. Those repairs should be made by the tenants, they are already getting a fat break on rent, do something and stop whining for the love of whatever you believe in. A crappy hole in the wall can be repaired if it bothers you so much. More strict accountability is coming and it will finally end these leeches of society from taking our tax dollars and the politicians from using them to cheerlead around their campaigns. Yes there has been a significant misappropriation of funds, on these housing projects. They need to come down or phased into living spaces only for the elder.
Joe Gonzalez August 13, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Wow! So now all of a sudden our elected public officials have discovered the NYCHA has a problem. For years, I have been asking Hakeem Jeffries, Walter Mosley, Tish James, Ola Alabi and other area electeds to get involved in NYCHA improvement. I have screamed aloud in this blog and others and at public meetings and whereever and to whomever I thought needed to hear about NYCHA's problems. Where is Senator Chuck Schumer and City Council Speaker and Mayoral wannbe Christine Quinn on the issue of NYCHA?
Adam August 13, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Dear Pat, I heart you. How, in the last 60 years, did it become the government's job to provide housing? Government is in the housing business? What? Why? Seems like NYCHA is running just about as well as a government organization usually runs. NYCHA should be completely shut down and people should support their own living arrangments. Adam
Steve Cromity August 13, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Two of the comments make me think of people being jealous of the poor. It is hard for me to understand how they can be so mean spirited. To disparage thousands of people with one breath of a vile tongue is bad enough, then to dismiss the legistative responsibility NYCHA has makes no sense either. As the bible says: let him without sin cast the first stone. Perhaps they should reconsider their questionalbe self-rightousness.
Joe Gonzalez August 13, 2012 at 02:38 PM
@ Steve: NYCHA is home to about 500,000 residents--mostly Hispanics and Blacks. I see the all out assault on NYCHA as an out and out ethnic cleansing. Folks really want to remove a half a million people of color from NYC. Again I ask where is City Council Speaker and Mayoral wannabe Christine Quinn in all of this?
Louis M August 13, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Some people conveniently ignore the process when it comes to economics, race and who benefits from public housing. Public housing built was originally intended for working families, the projects increasingly became occupied by low-income Blacks and Hispanic families. Built as transitional housing, most of the Whites, who use to live in public housing transitioned out, some to Long Island for and Jersey where large inexpensive PUD like Levittown were built. Blacks and Hispanics were forced to stay as, historically; they were not as upwardly mobile as Whites. Pat and Adam, I know your position well. What about all those people in Manhattan under rent control who are paying less than most who now live in public housing? Forte Green Projects has long been in the way of the City's plan to remove people from this housing stock to improvement which is a code word for luxury housing. You just have to look at the corner of Flatbush and Myrtle to see what the future holds. I am like you Joe, where are our neighborhood politicians on this. They have been warehousing Fort Greene Housing for years under the guise of improvement and even had a plan to sell them privately. People who benefit from gentrification never see the problem until its up in their face like crime, they want the problem to just go away and not look at cause and effect
Joe Gonzalez August 13, 2012 at 04:04 PM
I am ready to help organize a walking tour thru NYCHA projects to highlight the deplorable condition NYCHA's Fort Greene Housing Projects are in. Is there anyone interested in joining me?
pat August 13, 2012 at 06:37 PM
I was financially poor for most of my young adult life. My family never accepted a penny of government assistance. We were rich in love, spirit and the will to overcome our shortcomings in life. Until this day I work hard for everything I have coming my way and my children are also learning the way. I am not jealous of the poor, because I was poor in the sense of money in my pocket, but not in spirit. We drank water, not soda, we ate vegetables not Snicker bars and we worked hard, not at finding ways to cheat the government, but at work. We moved to where the work was not because we liked it, but because it was the right thing to do to stay off the government books and keep our dignity as humans capable of overcoming anything in this great country. We do not buy into politics, or religion, we are just people being people with no excuses. We did this with nothing more than a smile, a thank you and a your welcome. Spare us all the tears of doom and help your country out by throwing away that EBT card and returning that fraudulent housing assistance check.
devon nola August 14, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Actually, Pat, it's not a hole in the wall they're talking about. It's heat and hot water, often mold in the walls from leaks not being repaired, etc. Things that are a necessity and conditions you wouldn't want you or your kids to be living in. So, just curious, where do you suggest the working poor (or as you refer to them, the leeches} go for affordable housing if not govt subsidized govt housing? You seem to have it all sized up and figured out, maybe you should run for office. I'm assuming you have a real solid, first hand understanding of what's going on in govt housing and the lives of the inhabitants and you're not just making some abstract assessment based on ignorant prejudice against the working poor. You seem to know a lot about their eating habits. I guess you never eat junk food. Good for you. You're a model citizen. Really, you should run for office or community leader. Personally, I'd prefer my tax dollars buy a candy bar and put a roof over someone's head rather than pay for drones to kill other innocent kids, but that's just me.
devon nola August 14, 2012 at 03:51 PM
I'm in.
Joe Gonzalez August 14, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Ok Devon: Im putting it together now. The haters are already trying to stop it from getting up and running, I will keep you posted.
devon nola August 14, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Very good, Joe.
Joe Gonzalez August 14, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Devon nola: Do you live in the projects or a brownstone?
devon nola August 14, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Neither, but it's an old bldg and the management company is questionable. My apartment is great but many in my bldg have similar issues. No one should have to live without heat/hot water, mold, leaks etc. Slumlords need to be stopped, whether it's privately or govt owned.
devon nola August 14, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Well said, Louis.
Alan Bellone August 15, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Hi Joe Gonzalez. I would be interested in a walk to actually see the deplorable conditions that exist. It should be a crime when an organizaion that is funded to provide a service does not perform that service. I also understand, like in some other posts, that tenants should be able to fix minor issues on their own to keep up with their living conditions. My name is Alan Bellone and I am a candidate for the 8th district congressional seat. I will not be avaialble until the week of the 27th, but if you would be so kind as to schedule it that week, I would be more than glad to make the time in my schedule. You can reach me at voteforal@gmail.com. Thank you very much and I look forward to meeting with you.


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