New York City Housing Authority Chairman John Rhea announced last week that he was pursuing $500 million in federal funds for “desperately needed” building repairs, despite turning his back on the same money two years ago, says the New York Daily News.
According to the article, Rhea decided not to go for the money last time because he didn’t believe that he had a qualified staff to spend it wisely, says the paper. Over the past two years, repair requests by NYCHA tenants grew to 338,000.
“He says he’s going to do it (now), and he said he couldn’t then. What’s the difference?” asked Marielys Divanne of the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, a civic group. “People are suffering.
According to Divanne, her group met with Rhea and then-Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott in November 2010, urging NYCHA to pursue millions in federal funds available for roof and brickwork repair through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Rhea then allegedly said NYCHA considered obtaining $300 million for the repairs, but still had other unspent HUD money, and that even if they spent the money, there wasn’t a properly qualified staff.
Divanne recalled a similar meeting in January 2011, according to the paper.
A NYCHA spokeswoman said that Rhea had indeed “postponed” pursuing the money while NYCHA went about “improving our systems of planning, managing and scoping out capital projects.”