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Opinion

Get the Facts Straight on NYCHA Attacks


bdb nycha

photo via NYCHA


In a recent op-ed outlining opposition to organized labor and Project Labor Agreements, Associated Buildings & Contractors Empire State Chapter President Brian Sampson paints an outdated and inaccurate picture of NYCHA. Let’s be honest, yes—there had been a long history of mismanagement at NYCHA. But with the new administration and under new leadership, we are taking NYCHA in a different direction that makes old arguments about NYCHA more political than factual.

In the past two years, we’ve taken bold, but necessary steps to fundamentally transform how we do business. The Authority launched NextGeneration NYCHA, our ten-year strategic plan, to transform NYCHA into a modern, more efficient and effective landlord, while also getting our financial house in order. And while there is still work to be done, we are making solid progress through action.

Taxpayer waste was indicative of the old NYCHA. Today, we are committed to transparency as the best form of oversight and accountability of taxpayer dollars. NYCHA now posts work and performance metrics, contracts and awards on our website, and even launched an interactive Sandy Transparency map, where the public can access spending data and status updates on work related to the $3 billion in Federal Emergency Management Agency funding. This digital tool provides information on the scope of work, project phase (planning, design, and construction), estimated funding levels and timelines, renderings and contractor details.

Swipes at NYCHA’s response to Hurricane Sandy or inventory and procurement may score easy political points, but don’t reflect NYCHA’s reality today. NYCHA created the Office of Emergency Preparedness in response to issues raised by Hurricane Sandy, so we are better prepared than we have ever been before. To that end, we issued a report in 2015 outlining our progress.

Additionally, NYCHA has made great strides to overhaul our supply and inventory management process, with a working group composed of independent leadership, supply chain experts, and the city comptroller’s office. Today, inventory is only disposed of after a systematic and thorough analysis. In fact, our reassessment of inventory previously slated for disposal resulted in more than $1 million of materials put back into use.

The nonunion building trades’ real issue with NYCHA isn’t about money or management, it’s about NYCHA’s Project Labor Agreement (PLA.) NYCHA’s PLA, which applies to construction and rehabilitation work, isn’t unique and is widely employed by other city agencies. It allows for greater flexibility in work scheduling and shift hours, and NYCHA is already beginning to see the benefits of the PLA with faster, better, and cost-effective construction work.

This isn’t the first attack by the Associated Builders & Contractors Empire State Chapter and it won’t be the last, but the association should try to stick to the facts on NYCHA. No one is served by rhetoric, especially not NYCHA residents.

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Michael Kelly is the General Manager of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). On Twitter @NYCHA.

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