For the first time, the New York City Council held a hearing at a public housing complex.
On February 27th, the Council's Public Housing Committee convened a meeting at Carey Gardens in Coney Island. At the hearing, President Floyd, on behalf of Local 237 Housing Authority members, raised his concerns about the continued use of temporary boilers and outsourcing at NYCHA. Below is the full text of his testimony.
I would first like to thank the Committee and its Co-Chairs, Ritchie Torres and Mark Trayger, for convening this hearing.
I know that we are in the process of considering ways to improve the nation's largest public housing system—once a shining example of civic pride and responsibility—but, I think that it is important to first take the time to pause and review how NYCHA got broken, before we try to fix it.
So, while I applaud Mayor de Blasio's selection for new NYCHA Chair, Ms. Olatoye, as well as the very capable General Manager, Mr. House, I would advise holding that "re-set" button that the Mayor speaks about.....at least for a while.
First, we need to thoroughly study and evaluate what went wrong, before we flick the switch.
As the President of the union with more than 8,000 NYCHA workers—a third of whom are residents as well—we know, first-hand, the problems from two perspectives.
We have offered practical, long- and short-term solutions.
And, there's no need for another $10 million study.
Our advice is free!
Today's hearing is concentrating on the heating system-post Sandy.
But, my problem with the heating system is more of a problem with NYCHA's policies, in general.
In fact, it doesn't matter if we are talking about the post-storm or pre-storm heating system. The biggest problem is that NYCHA outsources the boiler equipment and maintenance contracts. And, of course, we know that outsourcing is not relegated to just boilers.
For a mega-housing complex that dates back over 75 years, and one that affects the lives of so many residents and workers, NYCHA operates as though it doesn't plan on staying in business!
Why hasn't it invested and purchased the boilers?
I want to know the supposed cost-savings of renting them at a sum estimated anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 a month, per development!
Add that up!
Plus, our 450 members who work on monitoring the heating system must rely on these outside contractors for maintenance and repair, which can add to down-time.
Surely, one of the key lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy is that emergency preparedness is critical to positive outcomes. We know that there was little emergency planning pre-Sandy, and, as for post-Sandy, I am still not confident how well the lesson was learned.
Whether we talk of pre- or post-storm, one thing remains the same. It is that the equipment and workers must be able to operate in a workplace that is conducive to quality performance. A workplace must have continuity and incentive that will ultimately streamline response-time, not complicate it.
Our workers should not have any impediments that keep them from performing the job they know so well.
And, residents would benefit the most! They would be able to feel at home in their homes once again.
In summary, to truly take advantage of a "re-set" from NYCHA, the agency's policies and practices must be analyzed to determine real savings and effectiveness.
Let's never forget. NYCHA is not only about property, but about people.
500,000 residents and 12,000 workers.
Each have basic needs they desire and deserve.
I am hopeful that someday soon, both can truly feel good about where they live and work.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you today.