The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) houses 400,000 of the city’s 8.4 million residents. This large public agency operates 173,762 apartments across 2,351 buildings in 316 developments. For perspective the cities of Tulsa, Tampa, Cleveland, and New Orleans each have around 400,000 total residents.

NYCHA is under the scrutiny of the federal government for the poor conditions in which many residents live and the state of disrepair.  The Justice Department, Housing and Urban Development Department and New York City signed an agreement in January to remedy the issues and provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing. The agreement’s goals are that children must be protected from toxic lead paint, apartments must be free of mold and pest infestations, and developments must provide adequate heat in winter and elevator service. The federal government will help pay for improvements to be made by certain deadlines.

The Daily News reached out to Bell Environmental to get our view on whether the NYCHA will satisfy meet HUD’s targets to for reductions in mice, rat and roach infestation levels by 40-50% by January 2022. The city agency has to then make further reductions of another 50% of these pests during the next two years.  (Bed bugs have an unspecified inital reduction target.) We’re at best skeptical, and more accurately cynical about these goals being met on schedule – or at all.

Why?  It comes down to economics and priorities. We wish that the city would spend sufficiently to improve residents’ living conditions – especially on pest control. However NYCHA has a history of insufficient spending on these types of issues and had a huge problem with lead paint in residents homes.  The New York Times reported in November 2018 that “Tests Showed Children Were Exposed to Lead. The Official Response: Challenge the Tests.  For at least two decades, the New York City Housing Authority routinely disputed tests that revealed lead in its apartments. Private landlords almost never do this.” The agency unfortunately still doesn’t have its arms around the lead paint issue. Last week, The New York Post reported that NYC failed to remove lead-poisoned kids from toxic NYCHA apartments. If the city is not spending enough or acting appropriately to solve its lead paint issues, we believe that it will also fail to take sufficient action on its pest control.

Check out the Daily News article featuring Bell Environmental here.