NYCHA keeps bungling — but guy who’s supposed to fix it is weeks away

Source:, July 28, 2019
As news keeps breaking of unbelievable bungling at the city Housing Authority, the city’s still waiting for the guy who’s supposed to lead the turnaround.
Increasingly, it looks like Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to accept a federal monitor, and so oust acting NYCHA chief Stanley Brezenoff, was a net loss for the tenants.
Yes, monitor Bart Schwartz is doing some good. His report last week exposed a case of obscene mismanagement: A broken pipe allowed “putrid liquid” to keep pouring into a housing project laundry room for two months, supposedly because workers didn’t have a ladder when first called in to fix it.
The situation got resolved after Schwartz & Co. intervened. But what NYCHA really needs is a management system that prevents such idiocy.
The watchdog also revealed that 18 more NYCHA kids tested positive for elevated lead levels in the first half of the year. But one of the many other outsiders now watching the lead issue would surely have broken that news soon enough.
And it was city Comptroller Scott Stringer who reported the major jaw-dropper, on NYCHA’s insane handling of roof repairs. The agency spent upward of $30 million for work on roofs that were still under warranty — because it has no workable system for tracking basic info so that managers call in the contractors legally obliged to fund the fixes.
Plus, it botches many repair and maintenance jobs — thereby providing near-ideal conditions for mold to grow in the buildings. That threatens tenants’ health and forces even more repair work to walls and pipes.
NYCHA’s “inspection and maintenance tracking systems are from a bygone era,” Stringer says.
The agency desperately needs leadership and direction, but its new chairman and CEO won’t arrive for another two weeks: Gregory Russ starts Aug. 12.
And, as The Post reported, he blew off a trip here last month to meet his new team because the city refused to pay for his travel and lodgings. Huh? A salary over $400,000 wasn’t enough motivation to get an up-close and personal view of the situation he faces and the folks he’ll work with?
Russ failed his first leadership test — commitment — rather badly.

Meanwhile, watchdog Schwartz seems to be spending taxpayer money on political insurance. Why else hire Keith Wright, the Manhattan Democratic chairman? It’s as if the monitor has already been infected by the dysfunction he’s supposed to expose.

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