After the Storm, Public Housing Still Needs a Boost

The New York City Housing Authority is facing scrutiny after residents went almost a month without power, Nicole Anderson reports.
November 25, 2012, 9am PST | Ryan Lue
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When Hurricane Irene tore through New York last August, the damage paled in comparison to that wrought by Hurricane Sandy, giving authorities a false sense of security about the strength of their disaster response plans. And so the recent storm has left the New York City Housing Authority, and its relationship with its tenants, the worse for wear.

The NYCHA finally announced last Monday, nearly a month since Sandy first touched down, that it had restored power to all 402 of the buildings hit by the storm. In the meantime, however, the Authority has faced a deluge of complaints concerning mold and structural stability, despite official statements to the contrary.

"June Clarkson, a resident who has lived Red Hook House East for 51 years, said that on the outside of her building it appears that bricks are coming loose, and inside her apartment she believes something like 'asbestos is bubbling' from the ceiling," Anderson notes.

“NYCHA said they were going door-to-door before and we have heard different stories. We’ll see if that happens,” said Ellen Davidson, staff attorney at Legal Aid. “Some of what they say sounds like it might be useful on its face, but they have been making a whole lot of promises especially to those who are home-bound and elderly, and we have run into many tenants who say that door-to-door visits never happened.”

In addition, many units are still being temporarily powered by generators, which, in Anderson's words, "makes NYCHA’s claim that 'essential services have been restored to nearly 80,000 residents' a bit of an exaggeration or perhaps wishful thinking."

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Published on Thursday, November 22, 2012 in The Architect's Newspaper
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