July 14, 2015

Hon. Julian Castro
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
US Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street S.W.,
Washington, DC 20410

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I am writing in the name of the Liberal Party of New York to ask you to appoint a Federal Task Force and an independent Federal monitor to investigate the decades-old dysfunction and suspected corruption of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

In your recent interview with a New York media outlet we noted you declined to discuss any commitment to new resources for the agency. We believe that you must be aware of the substandard living conditions of the more than half a million people who live in NYCHA housing. And that you know of the crumbling facades, the leaking roofs, the black mold, the broken pipes, windows and walls, the more than a quarter of a million requests for repairs backed up for years, the recent sale of tens of millions of dollars of new building materials, pipe, sinks etc. which had been warehoused and given away for pennies on the dollar.

And yet there was no way you could have known that two of New York’s most successful and influential private developers were ignored when they repeatedly offered assistance to two of the largest NYCHA developments -Ingersoll in Brooklyn and Soundview in the Bronx.

And that in the first six months of 2015 murders, rapes, shootings and felony assaults rose 44% over 2014 at 72 of the 244 developments where the NYPD tracks crime. Or that an $800,000 security system was approved for Soundview years ago and never installed.

Or that days ago, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo withdrew his offer of $100 million dollars to fix some of those roofs because counsel told him “they have millions sitting in the bank and we’ll never find out where our $100 million will go” and “give the money to the legislators in NYCHA communities and let them find out about the needs…nothing will ever happen…”

Only an independent Federal Task Force and monitor can learn the truth of decades of NYCHA mismanagement. Strict auditing of every contract between NYCHA and its vendors and an investigation of the way that middle management remains in total control no matter who is New York’s Mayor or appointed Chairman will reveal the underside of NYCHA.

The Liberal Party has existed in New York for more than 70 years to help level the playing field of opportunity through the use of good government practices. That 500,000 people are imprisoned in the nation’s largest public housing development and are getting no help at all has made NYCHA a disgrace among those who know and care. We need your help to change this unforgiveable reality.

Very truly yours,

Martin I. Hassner
Executive Director

New Mailing Address:
511 Sixth Avenue #167, New York, NY 10011

NYCHA.gifThat New York City can contain the nation’s largest public housing project and then ignore it as it becomes the nation’s largest slum is a disgrace. Half a million people, 180,000 families (most single parent), 324 developments throughout all five boroughs, 2,500 crumbling buildings and billions in government subsidies. They all add up to broken roofs and ceilings, black mold causing more asthma than any place in NYC, broken walls and staircases, cracked bathroom pipes and facilities, broken heat pipes…more than 25% of the crime in all of New York (those little children shot dead in the street are lying near NYCHA properties) and drugs, guns and gangs everywhere.

A slum. The nation’s biggest slum in the world’s greatest city. Where is the compassion for all those people? A city in itself. Not the tale of two cities Mr. Mayor…the tale of the forgotten third city. Larger than Boston.

Nothing changes it. Mayors come and go; their appointed chairpersons come and go. And nothing changes. Articles are written and TV cameras show the horrendous conditions. And nothing changes. Comptroller audits show missing monies or outright lying about supposed repair procedures that are never even done. And nothing changes. Security is promised and not delivered.

Image of Shola Olatoye
Shola Olatoye, Chair, NYCHA
13,000 people work for NYCHA. Within that number are the bureaucrats who run NYCHA with an iron hand…doing only what they want to do…ignoring what they don’t want to do. They know they have a Chair with no housing experience in Shola Olatoye who was hired to be a public relations person able to ignore what is and talk about what may be.

They know they can ignore a New York Supreme Court Judge who was furious that only an attorney appeared at a hearing to explain why court-ordered mold abatement had not been carried out…but no other NYCHA administrator bothered coming.

They know they can ignore Comptroller Scott Stringer’s audit which showed that they have played a lying game with the number of repairs they claim to have completed, when no such reality exists.

They know they can ignore the requests from powerful developers to try help repair certain NYCHA buildings…and ignore the requests of local legislators as well.

They know they can ignore the actions of Governor Andrew Cuomo who withdrew his pledge to give NYCHA $100 million to fix roofs because he didn’t trust that the money would be spent for those repairs.

This is a classic-textbook situation that befalls every institution…and after more than 50 years NYCHA is an institution: those working in it care more about themselves and their own needs than the needs and wants of those they should be serving.

And until that bureaucracy is exposed and broken…NOTHING WILL CHANGE.

The Liberal Party’s Facebook page is full of the cries of injustice and mendacity that comes from with NYCHA. They speak volumes. And we need say no more.

But we want to make changes where no one else is succeeding and so we wrote the letter to the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD has the power to do what we ask: investigate and clean out NYCHA once and for all.

Did they receive the letter? Yes. Have they responded? Not yet.

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