The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) today announced that as of August 1, 2013, it has reduced the number of open work orders from a peak of about 423,000 to approximately 197,000. The current decrease of more than 225,000 work orders means that NYCHA has now reduced the backlog by approximately 68 percent, or about two-thirds, and is on target to eliminate the backlog by the end of 2013, by having only 90,000 open work orders at the end of the year. This reduction is a result of NYCHA’s Action Plan to improve its accountability and efficiency in responding to maintenance and repair work orders. At the conclusion of this initiative, the Authority anticipates that the number of work orders that will be open at any given time will be approximately 90,000. This represents the number of work orders NYCHA would have if workers were handling maintenance requests in an average of 7 days, and more complex requests in an average of 15-days.
NYCHA’s initiative to reduce the work order backlog is already yielding positive results. By systematically reviewing the work orders in the system, the Authority has been able to better assess the work that has been done and is still needed. Residents are seeing many more of their repairs completed.
Focusing on the work order backlog, and dedicating resources even during this tough economic period, has allowed NYCHA to address deficiencies that resulted from years of significant and sustained budget shortfalls. What has become clear is that given the budget constraints, which worsened with sequestration, NYCHA will need to prioritize its work. Recognizing that there are limited resources, NYCHA staff will not be able to address work that is primarily to improve the appearance of apartments until the fiscal situation improves. Paint provides an example of this new prioritization.
The City Council has allocated $10 million to hire painting apprentices, and NYCHA will hire about 175 apprentice painters who are NYCHA residents, and will begin painting units in the fall. This additional staffing will help the Authority address paint requests in occupied units. Currently there are about 39,000 vendor work orders for painting, and about 14,000 paint requests for a room or wall are also awaiting NYCHA painters. These work orders will be reexamined. Those where the painting is needed to coat and protect walls after plaster work, or after other repairs affecting the wall, will be prioritized. To date, NYCHA has added 565 employees to support the overall work order reduction plan, including 389 new maintenance and skilled trade workers.
NYCHA will face additional challenges in the next several months as it goes through its annual HUD inspections and will need to focus on public space work in addition to the work in the apartments.
NYCHA’s Action Plan is based on a combination of internal process improvements and additional resources made available through internally generated savings ($30 million) and City Council funds ($10 million each for 2012 and 2013). These amounts, when combined with efficiencies in NYCHA’s existing operations, fund NYCHA’s Action Plan. The Action Plan was developed by NYCHA management with input from employees, residents; the labor unions representing NYCHA workers; and advocacy groups. NYCHA will continue to provide regular progress updates on this initiative on its website, www.nyc.gov/nycha.