NYCHA Will Eliminate Backlog of 420,000 Repairs by End of 2013, Mayor Says

NYCHA Will Eliminate Backlog of 420,000 Repairs by End of 2013, Mayor Says
Thursday, January 31, 2013

 By Jeff Mays, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

HARLEM — The New York City Housing Authority will eliminate its backlog of 420,000 open repair requests by the end of this year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday.

But public housing residents at the complex where Bloomberg made the announcement said they were skeptical about whether city officials will be able to follow through on that promise.

Using $40 million, including $10 million from the City Council and $30 million in money NYCHA will save by eliminating inefficiencies, the oft-criticized agency will hire 1,200 more workers and streamline the repair process, Bloomberg said.

The backlog will be gone by the end of 2013 and the wait for repairs, which can now take up to two years, will be permanently reduced to one week for minor repairs, two weeks for major repairs and  24 hours for emergencies.

"We've got to make sure public housing is as good as it can possibly be given the constraints of buildings that are aging and funding that doesn't arrive," Bloomberg said at Drew Hamilton Houses at 143rd Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and Frederick Douglass Boulevard.

NYCHA was able to identify operating inefficiencies in its administrative staff as the result of a controversial $10 million report on the agency's operation from the Boston Consulting Group, where NYCHA Chairman John Rhea previously worked.

Rhea said there will be fewer administrative staffers at NYCHA, and that will provide the money to fund the expedited repairs.

"The money in our existing budget is being deployed more efficiently," Rhea said.

Drew Hamilton Houses participated in an earlier version of the program where NYCHA used funds from the refinancing of its buildings to deploy maintenance workers to reduce the backlog at the 3,000-tenant complex.

But residents at Drew Hamilton said they remained doubtful that the plan would work.

At Elizabeth Hutchison's second-floor apartment, the disabled senior citizen showed wet plaster under her sink and newspaper on the floor that she had laid down to prevent the constant leakage of water for the past year and a half. She has to change the newspaper every day.

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