HUD administrator shines light on crumbling NYCHA housing

EAST NEW YORK, Brooklyn (WABC) -- The regional administrator for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development toured a public housing complex in East New York, Brooklyn on Friday as part of ongoing efforts to pressure the New York City Housing Authority to improve conditions for the 1 in 14 New Yorkers who live in public housing and rely on the department's care.

Recently HUD established an independent monitor to oversee repairs in response to years of mismanagement by the city.

Mayor Bill De Blasio estimated New York Housing Authority properties require nearly $32 billion in repairs.

"Not only am I keeping up the pressure, but I'm meeting weekly with the federal monitor and telling him what needs to happen," said HUD Regional Administrator Lynne Patton, who expressed disappointment in the city's progress repairing crumbling housing complexes.

Residents visited by Patton at the Breukelen Houses Friday afternoon showed the administrator crumbling walls with peeling paint, leaking ceilings and half-finished patch jobs.

Some residents complained about being forced to go without heat.

Others expressed concerns about the presence of vermin, mold and asbestos.

"We shouldn't have to live like this," said Deedra Cheatham, who's ceiling has several leaks. "It isn't fair."

"It's demoralizing," added Lance Clarke, who expressed sadness about the state of his childhood home where his grandmother raised him.

"It's a kick in the butt," said Calvin Drumgo, a resident and tenant advocate at the Breukelen Houses. "We're not living in a third world country. People deserve to live with dignity."

The Breukelen Houses are more than 60-years-old and are overdo for repairs.

By Friday, it was clear the city had begun at least some work on the complex but residents say the promise of progress has been too little to late.

"I don't know what I'm going to come home to," Cheatham said. "All we want is a safe place to live."

"NYCHA is a bunch of excuses with no solutions for fixing the problem," Drumgo said.

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