FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 22, 2022
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NYCHA Completes Roof Fan Project as Part of Ongoing Mold Remediation Work
Between 2020 and 2022, NYCHA installed 6,188 roof fans across the Authority as part of a Ventilation Improvement Program that also includes the Clean Vents Initiative
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NEW YORK, NY – The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) completed its roof fan replacement project as part of a series of initiatives to reduce and address root causes of mold. Between 2020 and 2022, the Authority replaced 6,188 roof fans, which are designed to exhaust air out of bathrooms and kitchens via horizontal ducts, and engineers deemed an additional 2,248 roof fans fully functional and safe.
This massive effort to inspect and proactively replace NYCHA’s roof fans was conceived in NYCHA’s Mold Action Plan, which was approved by the Federal Monitor in May 2019. The work was designed to upgrade infrastructure, provide more reliable systems, and optimize ventilation, thereby reducing humidity and the potential for mold growth.
“Completion on this roof fan project is the culmination of two years of complex work involving many partners and will result in better ventilation to residents, potentially preventing moisture in bathrooms and kitchens,” said NYCHA Interim Chief Executive Officer Lisa Bova-Hiatt. “It is going to mean real changes for residents in reducing mold and is a major accomplishment for NYCHA.”
“Safe, high-quality, affordable housing for all New Yorkers has been the North Star for our administration, and the roof fan project and mold remediation work have brought us closer to that goal for thousands of families,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “With victories like this and the Public Housing Preservation Trust, our administration is leveraging the resources and doing the work to ensure that NYCHA residents can enjoy the quality of life that every New Yorker deserves. We will continue to work closely with all of our partners here, in Albany, and in Washington, D.C., to deliver more wins for public housing in New York City.”
“Mold-free homes are essential to the health of NYCHA families and children, and inspecting and replacing roof fans are big steps in improving the air quality in their apartments,” said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey Alicka Ampry-Samuel. “Resident health and the preservation of affordable housing are important priorities for HUD, and thorough inspection and improvements will benefit resident health and protect the building from mold damage in the future.”
“NYCHA has undertaken an incredible effort to improve resident quality of life through the roof fan overhaul. These new fans will mean drastically safer ventilation and air quality for thousands of New Yorkers,” said Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz. “Moments like this show how far NYCHA has come to provide residents the homes they deserve. While we must continue to work hard to give every resident living in NYCHA a home to be proud of, this is a significant sign of progress in our most critical affordable housing.”
The New York City Comptroller released an audit on September 30, 2022, positively evaluating the roof fan project, with findings that NYCHA maintained adequate control and monitored the installation of roof fans; took steps to combat delays, including using emergency contracts, mobilizing an asbestos team, and negotiating with manufacturers to improve lead time and minimize the time between manufacturing and shipping; and utilized project managers to certify work was completed as reported.
“NYCHA made significant strides to ensure that residents have safe and healthy homes—especially from mold and asbestos,” said Comptroller Brad Lander. “NYCHA’s Ventilation Improvement Program got high marks from my office’s audit team for minimizing delays, communicating progress, and documenting spending. Capital improvements like these should make NYCHA residents breathe easier."
"Adequate ventilation is one of the keys towards remediating mold and promoting tenant's health more broadly,” said Pastor of Monte Sion Christian Church on the Lower East Side, Metro-IAF leader and Manhattan Together Co-Chair Rev. Getulio Cruz. “That's why we called for a major upgrade of fans and vents where necessary through the Baez Consent Decree starting in 2018. We congratulate NYCHA on this significant progress and look forward to the completion of all the other recommendations necessary to ensure that all public tenants can live without mold and leaks."
High indoor moisture and humidity are two of the leading root causes of mold within NYCHA’s residential buildings. NYCHA estimates that 51 percent of all the buildings in its portfolio have at least one building line that relies on mechanical ventilation for either the bathroom, kitchen, or both. This mechanical ventilation, which includes roof fans, does not function as HVAC systems (which exchange or introduce air flow) and does not circulate the airflow amongst various units (as central air systems do).
The scope of the project went above and beyond what was included in the initial 2018 Baez Consent Decree, the 2019 amended Consent Decree, and the January 2019 HUD agreement. It involved multiple stages of design, engineering, asbestos assessment, roof fan manufacturing, phases of implementation, installation, and significant due diligence, including vendor quality assurance. It also involved several NYCHA departments; third-party vendors; an independent, court-appointed mold analyst; and the Federal Monitor’s team.
This program was piloted at Wald Houses in 2020, which determined that oversized roof fans would be more effective in moving air through lateral vents while in-unit work was suspended to minimize exposure during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the engineering process, engineers evaluated the conditions of the existing roof fans and confirmed whether they should be retained or replaced, and regular inspections ensured NYCHA did not replace any new fans that had been installed by property management staff between engineering and installation phases of the project.
NYCHA’s Office of Mold Assessment and Remediation (OMAR) replaced 50 percent of the roof fans when the final engineering report was submitted in August 2021, and the project was fully completed on May 26, 2022.
NYCHA installed the roof fans in three phases:
“Operational roof fans exhaust the air from the room and are a critical part of ensuring ventilation is working properly to prevent mold,” said NYCHA Senior Vice President for Healthy Homes Daniel Greene. “This project required a lot of moving parts, including coordination with engineers, the asbestos team, the manufacturing company, and installation vendors. We are happy to accomplish this and to make sure residents have a healthier indoor environment.”
NYCHA’s OMAR has also made significant headway in several other key areas concerning mold, including reducing the mold work order backlog, cleaning ventilation ducts, training workers to address mold complaints, piloting projects to address mold and leaks, and conducting outreach to empower residents to prevent or identify mold in their apartments and the steps they should take if they do identify mold.
NYCHA launched a Clean Vents Initiative in December 2020 and has successfully cleaned nearly 67,544 apartments across the NYCHA portfolio, or 76 percent of the units included in the project. Dust and debris that build up in vents over the years contribute to a humid environment which can promote mold growth, and cleaning the vents improves the airflow in the apartment by about 37 percent on average.
The Authority also launched an ongoing pilot at Wald Houses in February 2022 for fire and volume damper installation. OMAR continues to work closely with the court-appointed mold expert Microecologies and its engineering teams to devise strategies for implementing this important component of the project.
In total, NYCHA expects these initiatives to cost approximately $70 million. NYCHA has spent approximately $40 million on roof fans and vent cleaning to date.
About the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the largest public housing authority in North America, was created in 1935 to provide decent, affordable housing for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. NYCHA is home to roughly 1 in 16 New Yorkers across over 177,000 apartments within 335 housing developments. NYCHA serves over 339,000 residents through the conventional public housing program (Section 9), over 29,000 residents at developments that have been converted to PACT/RAD, and over 92,000 families through federal rent subsidies (the Section 8 Leased Housing Program). In addition, NYCHA connects residents to opportunities in financial empowerment, business development, career advancement, and educational programs. With a housing stock that spans all five boroughs, NYCHA is a city within a city.