7 On Your Side Investigates: What will it take to fix NYCHA?

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- 7 On Your Side Investigates is looking into how much money it would actually take to fix all the problems facing public housing complexes in the city and turn NYCHA around.

Eyewitness News has reported story after story about NYCHA's crumbling conditions, but the plot is always the same - something needs to be repaired, usually because of a leak.

And then the long wait for repairs begins.

"Water coming out through here, water coming out through here, it's coming out water," resident Dionne Williams said. "Give em time, somebody's coming out, we're already short-staffed, short staffed or they're here or there."

Williams has been trying for eight months to get her leak-damaged kitchen fixed.

NYCHA resident Evelyn Faisca has kitchen problems too.

"See July 18th, that's when they came and took everything down," Faisca said.

Workers took down her cabinets before they fell off the wall. She's been waiting for replacements since the summer.

"You need to call the office," Faisca was told. "I've been calling, either busy, on the phone, they're on lunch or in court."

One story after another -- there's peeling paint, leaking pipes, duct-taped showers and a lot of asthma.

Residents told 7 On Your Side Investigates that rust and mildew is impacting their health. One resident sometimes she can't breathe.

"NYCHA's units are 60 to 70 years old, they are at the point they need repairs," said Sean Campion.

Campion, of the watchdog group Citizens Budget Commission, says as NYCHA's housing stock aged, the federal government reduced funding. He says the agency actually gets less money now from the feds than it did 17 years ago.

"Underfunding is the biggest problem, it's hard to do repairs when you have $32 billion in capital needs when you don't have resources available to pay for the repairs," Campion said.

NYCHA estimates it will cost $32 billion to refurbish the 2,400 buildings. No amount of oversight by a federal monitor or sleepovers by a regional director will come close to saving NYCHA's housing stock from crumbling if it's not backed by billions.

Only then can the agency's management be fixed.

"They need more accountability from the NYCHA Chair all the way down to the front line of staff so that each step of the chain of workers and management are held responsible for the maintenance of individual projects," Campion said.

"We need help, tenants need help, we need funding and whatever you have to do to get the tenants help, we shouldn't have to deal with this," Williams said.

NYCHA says that the recent start of weekend maintenance work has been able to make repairs on 7,500 apartments. The agency says it remains focused on "serving our residents and being a better landlord."

But that still leaves a backlog of 250,000 open work orders for repairs, that's 100,000 increase in the repair backlog from a year ago, perhaps a sign of an acceleration in the deterioration of these aging buildings.

---------- DO YOU NEED A STORY INVESTIGATED? Jim Hoffer, Danielle Leigh and the 7 On Your Side Investigates team at Eyewitness News want to hear from you! Call our confidential tip line 1-877-TIP-NEWS (847-6397) or fill out the form BELOW. You can also contact Jim and Danielle directly: Jim Hoffer: Email your questions, issues, or story ideas to 7OnYourSideJim@abc.com Facebook: facebook.com/jimhoffer.wabc Twitter: @NYCinvestigates Danielle Leigh Email your questions, issues, or story ideas to 7OnYourSideDanielle@abc.com Facebook: DanielleLeighJournalist Twttier: @DanielleNLeigh
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