Tag Archives: public housing

Embattled NYC housing authority chair makes staffers lobby to keep her job

shola olatoye

She’s a Bill de Blasio appointee (February 2014).

From NY Post: Embattled Housing Authority chair Shola Olatoye is working overtime to keep her job — by getting paid underlings to mount a public relations campaign on her behalf before an oversight hearing next week. A form letter created by two New York City Housing Authority staffers has been circulated to tenant associations, urging that they sign a petition praising Olatoye as a great leader.

Tenant leaders also say they’ve received phone calls as part of the unprecedented PR push after NYCHA was found to have falsely claimed for years that it had been inspecting apartments annually for lead paint.

“NYCHA residents overwhelmingly support Chair Shola Olatoye because she has improved public housing and is making a significant difference in our lives as well as the lives of our children and grandchildren,” reads the form letter. Anyone who is standing-up for NYCHA residents and has any knowledge of public housing understands that the Chair is the right person to continue leading the Authority.”

The letter also takes a shot at the Council ahead of what’s sure to be a heated oversight hearing on Tuesday, warning that tenants supposedly fear it’s going to devolve into “political theatre [sic]” and grandstanding.

Even after NYCHA officials discovered in mid-2016 that they had been violating city and federal laws requiring lead paint inspections since late 2012, they never informed tenants about the dangerous lapse.

This includes four years without inspections at more than 4,200 units that house children younger than 6, who are most susceptible to the health dangers of elevated lead levels.

Mayor de Blasio also knew about the failings as early as April 2016, but has suggested the city wasn’t obligated to inform residents about it — characterizing doing so as going “an extra mile.”

He also didn’t move to discipline any employees until after the city’s Department of Investigation issued a scathing report on the scandal earlier this month.

The City-Wide Council of Presidents, a tenant group that represents NYCHA developments, was quick to issue a harsh condemnation of the self-serving petition. “The residents of NYCHA will not be used as pawns to further NYCHA’s self-interest,” the group wrote in a statement obtained by The Post.

The City-Wide Council of Presidents will not stand by while NYCHA attempts to ‘spin’ the lead paint fiasco into something else. NYCHA has severely jeopardized the health and safety of the residents and while this is far from their first offense, it is certainly the final straw.”

Council member Rafael Salamanca (D-Bronx) also slammed the NYCHA outreach efforts as “spin.”

“The reality is that lead paint testing is a serious issue in my mind and the minds of my public housing constituents,” said Salamanca, who has previously called for Olatoye to resign in the wake of the scandal. “We want answers and progress instead of a letter seeking support.”

Data embedded in the circulating letter indicates it was created by NYCHA community coordinators Makeba Price and Denise Guess. NYCHA officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The mayor has been downplaying the fiasco by claiming just four children in NYCHA units tested positive for lead poisoning since 2014. But the city has no idea how many children living in public housing were never tested.

Health Department data from 2016 shows that only 51 percent of children citywide were tested for lead poisoning at ages 1 and 2, despite being required by state law.



Woman complains about her taxpayer-paid rent-free apartment

In August 2010, there was a near-riot in Atlanta, Georgia, when 30,000 people stood in long lines in the sun in 90+ degrees heat, just for a chance to obtain an application form for a Section 8 public housing voucher. Some had waited in line for two days for the applications.

Like everywhere in America, public (i.e., taxpayer-paid) housing is in great demand in New Orleans.

In the wake of the terrible Hurricane Katrina disaster that put so much of the city of New Orleans under water, the federal government labored to provide public housing for the disaster victims and the poor. According to a report by D. Weaver for Nola.com, Dec. 18, 2007, Department of Housing and Development officials assured residents that the local public housing supply greatly outstripped demand, 1,762 public housing units were occupied and nearly 300 were available or within weeks of being ready at 8 Housing Authority of New Orleans complexes and at other scattered housing authority sites. Another 802 public housing units across the city were being repaired and would be put to use in the coming year.

In addition to the units available or scheduled to open soon, federal and local housing officials said their agencies would provide a total of 3,343 public housing units in the next 4 to 5 years, including nearly 900 units in planned mixed-income developments. The “mixed-income developments” would include 900 market-rate rental units and 900 homes for sale, many of which would be reserved for first-time home buyers, with financial subsidies designed to allow former public housing families to become property owners.

But public housing advocates were not satisfied. They complained that the target of 3,343 public housing units in New Orleans is still a drop of about one-third from the 5,100 units occupied before Hurricane Katrina.

Public housing officials responded that other demands for housing can be met through use of vouchers that can be used for private apartments that are inspected by the government. Nevertheless, housing activists complained that the “poor conditions” of those private apartments “deter renters,” that is, free-loaders.

Regardless of the conditions, many former public housing residents avoid privately owned apartments because they typically face utility and deposit expenses not charged in public housing.

The housing activists, aka Alinsky community organizers, then trooped out a victim of the “poor conditions” of those taxpayer-subsidized private apartments.

Meet Sharon Jasper, a former St. Bernard complex resident, who bitterly complained about her subsidized private apartment, which she called a “slum.”

Sharon Jasper in her well-appointed living room of her taxpayer-subsidized apartment. Note the large-screen TV. (photo by Ted Jackson/Times-Picayune)

Although a government voucher covered her rent on a unit in an old Faubourg St. John home, she griped about having to pay several hundred dollars in deposit charges and a steep utility bill.

Jasper said: “I might be poor but I don’t like to live poor. I thank God for a place to live but it’s pitiful what people give you. I’m tired of the slum landlords, and I’m tired of the slum houses.” Pointing across the street to an encampment of homeless people at Duncan Plaza, she said, “I might do better out here with one of these tents.”

Jasper allowed a photographer to tour the subsidized apartment. She complained about missing window screens, a slow leak in a sink, and a warped back door. The reporter noted that her subsidized apartment “otherwise appeared to have been recently renovated.”

H/t beloved Wendy.

To Sharon Jasper:

I’m one of the suckers who pay for your “subsidized” rent-free apartment, being among the 53% of Americans who still pay federal income taxes. My husband and I paid for our house with decades of hard work and savings. We don’t have a 60″ HD TV!