“Improve maintenance and repairs.” Residents are heard making this statement at NYCHA public hearings, roundtable discussions and when meeting with Authority staff one-on-one. Many residents have been waiting for years for basic maintenance service such as plastering or broken tile repairs. NYCHA is listening and has a solution to try to speed up repairs. The new Work Order Task Force allows multiple repairs to be consolidated to be handled in one visit to an apartment, with all maintenance and repairs dealt with at once.
Aletha Wright, a 40-year resident at Drew-Hamilton Houses in Manhattan, was relieved to see Task Force workers swarming her development, ready to tackle the numerous requests for repairs. She had been waiting for three years for plaster and paint work in her bathroom. “That’s a long time to wait just to get that done, and this is not my fault, it’s coming from upstairs. [But] I’m feeling great now because I know that I will get this fixed,” said Ms. Wright.
|Repairs being made in kitchen by NYCHA Work Order Task Force. (Photo by HEIDI MORALES)|
The Work Order Task Force will address the most severe conditions promptly. Developments with the highest number of work tickets per apartment receive priority.
A recent survey of NYCHA developments revealed that more than 280,000 repairs were needed citywide with an average of eight pending work orders per apartment, at a cost of approximately $2,900 per unit. NYCHA estimates it would cost approximately $500 million to make interior repairs to all NYCHA apartments’ most basic needs.
Budget deficits and continued underfunding have forced the Authority to cut 11 percent of its maintenance workforce since 2005. This makes it harder for NYCHA to keep up with the pace of needed repairs at its 2,602 buildings, most of which are between 40 and 70 years old. However, more than 10,000 work order tickets have been completed since the Task Force began its working on repairs in June 2011.
“We have done a lot of listening and we are focused on serving our residents and utilizing all available resources to address these priorities,” said NYCHA Deputy General Manager for Operations Carlos Laboy-Diaz. “We promised that we would work hard to address delays and expedite service to our residents and we have followed through by creating the Work Order Task Force.”
Rosalina Rodriguez has been a resident of Drew-Hamilton Houses for more than a decade and has been waiting more than two years for repairs in her bathroom, bedroom and kitchen. The walls and ceilings were plastered and later on would be painted. “I won’t have to continue looking at that peeling paint,” said Ms. Rodriguez. “Now that I see the work they are doing, I’m much calmer and satisfied.”
In 2010, State Assembly Housing Chairman Vito Lopez and Speaker Sheldon Silver included $6.5 million dollars for repairs in the proposed Assembly budget. However, this funds for spending were not included in the final budget, and for the first time, the State of New York did not include any funding for NYCHA to spend. In previous years, the State cut operating funds, but always included money for modernizing public housing authorities throughout New York. In 2011, NYCHA will work with Chairman Lopez and other allies of public housing to advocate for a State/City repair program for NYCHA residents.
By Heidi Morales