NYC Public Housing Settlement Will Give HUD More Oversight

by | February 1, 2019 AT 6:40 AM

By Jillian Jorgensen , Clayton Guse and Leonard Greene

The New York City Housing Authority's top boss will be replaced as part of a tentative HUD settlement, and a federal monitor will be installed to oversee the nation's largest public housing system, officials said Thursday.

Top brass at NYCHA will be replaced as part of the deal, including NYCHA Chairman Stanley Brezenoff, who has been leading the city's public housing authority on an interim basis since the departure under fire of its last chair in the aftermath of a lead paint scandal.

The new plan also calls for a powerful federal monitor, but stops short of receivership -- which would have amounted to a full federal takeover the system.

The agreement -- which HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Mayor de Blasio signed at a table together at Manhattan's Federal Plaza -- establishes a federal monitor to be chosen by HUD and a Manhattan Federal judge with "input" from the city. The city will pay the cost of the monitor, who has not yet been named.

The city will commit at least $2.2 billion in funding for NYCHA over the next 10 years.

"We were able to put aside any political differences, and think about what would provide the right environment for the people here," Carson said at a news conference. "I'm very excited about what we have agreed to here because I think it sets a great precedent for what can be done in other places around the country.

"Obviously we're going to have to get to the root causes of things and fix them. Having a safe and nurturing environment is key to human development. If we want our people to be developed appropriately we need to provide those basic resources to get them there."

De Blasio said he and Carson found "common ground."

"At the beginning of this process I'm sure that there are many who would have predicted that Secretary Carson and I would not have been able to work together well and communicate and find common ground," the mayor said. "Secretary Carson and I inherited a situation that was many decades in the making, and I wish we didn't. But we resolved from the beginning to do something different and to find a way to cooperate in the interest of the people. What we have done here today I think creates a strong path forward and a very tangible path forward."

The agreement comes after months of negotiations between NYCHA, HUD and federal prosecutors at the Southern District of New York who had brought forth a complaint alleging substandard living conditions due to mold, lead paint and other hazards.

The city and HUD had previously reached a deal only for Judge William Pauley to strike it down last year, following outraged testimony from residents and advocates.

Under the agreement, the monitor will submit quarterly reports to HUD and SDNY, which will be made publicly available. The city will pay the cost of the monitor in addition to its other financial commitments. The parties expect to announce the monitor in the near future.

Longtime NYCHA critics were skeptical of the deal.

"These are real people in these houses," said city Councilman Jumaane Williams, a candidate for Public Advocate. "This is not a game to be tweeted out in a tease. These are real people. This is our city. Stop releasing plans for NYCHA residents that have no NYCHA resident input. We've gone from a city and state that has failed to a federal government that doesn't care."

(c)2019 New York Daily News