NYCHA residents are hopeful a new agreement between the Housing Authority and two grassroots coalitions, including one based in the South Bronx, will help protect them against mold and leaks in some NYCHA buildings.
The agreement, which was announced on Dec. 23, stems from a class-action lawsuit filed in 2013 by NYCHA residents, along with South Bronx Churches and Manhattan Together. The plaintiffs demanded that more than 20,000 public housing apartments that were converted in 2018 to experimental programs PACT/RAD, be provided with “robust protections to residents against mold, leaks and other excess moisture in NYCHA buildings.
NYCHA introduced PACT (Permanent Affordability Commitment Together) as a necessary way to raise money through new financing options for critically needed repairs, while keeping public housing affordable long term for residents. The program calls for the creation of public-private partnerships that allow NYCHA to retain an oversight role over its buildings.
RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration) allows NYCHA to “leverage public and private debt and equity in order to reinvest in the public housing stock,” while ensuring apartments remain permanently affordable to low-income households. Residents continue to pay 30% of their income towards rent without losing any of their rights as public housing tenants.
The agreement stipulates that:
● All residents of buildings in the PACT program will have access to an Independent Ombudsperson Call Center. The call center has already worked with NYCHA to repair mold and leak in some NYCHA apartments.
● Mold, leaks and other damage from excess moisture must be fixed within 30 days of receiving a complaint, though in some instances that could be extended if the specific conditions of the complaint warrant it. Both NYCHA and court-appointed experts will be able to object if they believe a requested extension is not warranted.
● Oversight by, and collaboration with, court-appointed experts, including an Independent Data Analyst, PACT-specific Independent Mold Analyst, Ombudsperson and Special Master, to ensure repairs are done effectively.
South Bronx Churches was established in 1987. On its website, the group refers to itself as a “diverse, non-partisan citizens’ organization rooted in local institutions.” The coalition includes local churches of various denominations, homeowner groups, and Bronx Leadership Academy II High School.