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Flooding upgrades at NYCHA properties

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has announced a new joint program with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to improve drainage systems and reduce flooding at housing developments throughout the city.
Costing $29 million in total, the new projects are aimed at bringing climate resiliency to a number of vulnerable NYCHA properties, particularly those that are close to the water or other high-risk flooding locations.
“Funding these ongoing upgrades at NYCHA properties will improve the quality of life for residents while also reducing neighborhood flooding and any sewer overflow into local waterways,” said DEP commissioner Vincent Sapienza.
Work is set to begin immediately at a number of locations in Brooklyn, including Gowanus Houses, Boulevard Houses, Linden Houses, and Van Dyke Houses. Other locations throughout the borough are set to receive upgrades by the end of next year, including Kingsborough Houses and Seth Low Houses.
Typically, NYCHA is responsible for drainage at each of its properties. However, DEP saw the opportunity to capture significant stormwater across the portfolio of NYCHA properties, which would ease pressure on neighborhood sewers and reduce overflows into local waterways.
DEP engineers survey the sites and green infrastructure installations are designed to meet the specific needs. That could include permeable concrete sidewalks, subsurface infiltration chambers, and rain gardens, keeping water from entering the sewer system, where it could lead to flooding.
“Infrastructure needs don’t discriminate based on agency purview, and I hope the city continues to build on these types of partnerships as we work to tackle the growing challenges of climate change and water management,” said Borough President Eric Adams.

Queensbridge residents sue NYCHA

Residents of Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City filed a lawsuit against the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) this past week.
The suit seeks to force NYCHA to fix hazardous living conditions that plague the public housing complex, including asbestos, lead paint, mold, leaks, and backed-up trash shoots.
Residents argue the conditions became even worse during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent statewide stay-at-home orders. The suit also charges NYCHA with failing to conduct regular COVID-19 cleanings throughout the buildings in the largest public housing project in the Western Hemisphere.
“Any type of repairs that need to be done in my house, I have to wait forever to get them done,” said Marilyn Keller, a 58-year-old resident. “I put the ticket in, then NYCHA calls me back to tell me the date they are coming.
“So I prepare for the appointment, take everything out of the closet and cabinets, and ask for the day off from work but then they never come,” she continued. “They are a bunch of no-shows.”
Many of the tenants suing are older residents, including 72-year-old Pamela Wheeler.
“I am tired of living with mice, roaches, waterbugs, lack of heat, holes in my walls and sink, waterlogged and rotting cabinets, and many more repair issues that are a threat to my health and safety and an affront to my dignity,” Wheeler said. “NYCHA never repairs anything when I file a ticket, and it is so frustrating.”
The residents are working with the Justice For All Coalition, an organization that offers legal assistance to community groups in Astoria, Long Island City, and other parts of western Queens.
Residents then sought legal representation from Queens Legal Services, which filed the lawsuit on their behalf.
“For too long, NYCHA residents have suffered uninhabitable conditions due to neglect and lack of funding,” said Robert Sanderman, senior staff attorney at the Queens Legal Services Tenant Rights Coalition, who is representing the tenants. “There is little incentive for NYCHA to complete the repairs since the city will not record violations or pursue civil penalties against NYCHA for the numerous violations of the housing maintenance code.
“A great number of NYCHA residents are people of color who are also essential workers and are at high risk of health complications due to COVID-19,” he added. “These NYCHA residents are demanding systemic changes in the way they are neglected and ignored on account of their racial, social and economic status.”

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