NYCHA neglects low-income New Yorkers: Stringer

NYCHA neglects low-income New Yorkers: Stringer

City Comptroller Scott Stringer is singling out the city Housing Authority for failing to hire enough NYCHA residents and low-income New Yorkers.   Photo courtesy Comptroller's office

City Comptroller Scott Stringer is singling out the city Housing Authority for failing to hire enough NYCHA residents and low-income New Yorkers.
Photo courtesy Comptroller’s office

A city Comptroller Scott Stringer audit singled out the city Housing Authority for failing to follow its own regulations in hiring low-income New Yorkers.

NYCHA, the audit said, did not make sure that contractors working on its capital projects were following federal law – which coincided with the group’s own regulations – mandating the employment of NYCHA residents and low-income residents Stringer said. The misstep ended up costing low-income residents hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential wages, the comptroller said.

“Because of mismanagement and lax oversight, NYCHA has denied its own residents wages and training that they deserve,” Stringer said. “Federal law and NYCHA’s own resident employment program are supposed to help public housing and low-income residents of New York City secure needed job opportunity, but auditors found huge gaps between what the agency said it was doing and the facts on the ground.”

Stringer cited Section 3 of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Act, which forced NYCHA to make sure contractors with capital projects over $100,000 drew 30 percent of new hires from public housing residents and low-income New Yorkers. In his audit, he said the agency failed to meet that requirement, and therefore was not helping as many residents become economically self-sufficient.

The audit said 224 capital projects went through NYCHA between 2010 and 2012 valued at almost $1 billion, but not all reported appropriate payments to residents or complied with hiring requirements.

“It’s well past time that NYCHA got serious about making sure that all eligible New Yorkers get the opportunities to which they are entitled to help them build a better future,” Stringer said.

In response to Stringer’s audit, NYCHA released a statement of its own on the agency’s website saying it was proud of its job growth and efforts to retain workers while supporting the city economy. The group called the audit a disappointment that misrepresented its work with old and incomplete data.

NYCHA said it spent $2.4 million on wages for NYCHA residents in 2013, representing 85 of contracts open at the end of last year.

“While we appreciate the city comptroller’s effort to look into this important policy, the report fails to show the full picture,” the NYCHA statement said. “Increasing job opportunities for our residents is a top priority for NYCHA’s new administration.”

Stringer said the agency’s denial of the numbers his audit proposed were not backed up with evidence to support anything to the contrary. There were also several other NYCHA audits pending for the coming months, the comptroller said.

The agency has housing developments across the city, including one on Linden Boulevard near Howard Beach.

In order to address the inaccuracies alleged in his audit, Stringer said the agency should install controls to ensure hiring protocol is followed, require contractors to submit a list of all permanent staff and take disciplinary action against those who failed to comply with the guidelines.

“NYCHA didn’t just fail to properly manage these programs, the Authority rejected the notion that it needed to improve.  That’s simply unacceptable.  My office is continuing its top-to-bottom audit of NYCHA so that we can get the full picture of how this Agency is run,” Stringer said.

By Phil Corso


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