NYCHA Refuses To Name Contractors Awarded $1.85 Billion


New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) officials yesterday gave a general accounting of the $3 billion in federal money handed to the authority nearly three years ago, but refused to identify any of the contractors that received $1.85 billion in contracts related to the money. 

In March 2015 NYCHA was awarded the $3 billion in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) money to fix and replace boilers, heating systems and other infrastructure breakage due to Superstorm Sandy. In an unusual situation, NYCHA was given the money lump sum – the largest single grant in FEMA history – instead of the usual FEMA allocations in disasters, where money is drawn down in incremental payments.

NYCHA Acting Spokesperson Jasmine Blake said the money was made available in December 2015 and since has been awarded to multiple contractors for  Sandy recovery and resiliency work at 27 of 33 developments.

The remaining $1.15 billion has not been awarded and is expected to fund the largest pieces of the project including upgrades to the Red Hook and Coney Island public housing sites, she said.

Blake said NYCHA has already spent $730 million or about 25% percent of the $3 billion on Sandy recovery and resilience work. She refused to break down how the money was spent or who in NYCHA is providing oversight on the $3 billion.

According to measures stipulated in the original plan for the funding, the project was supposed to ensure “swifter capital construction” through the Project Labor Agreement with the Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) of Greater New York. The program allows NYCHA residents to gain access to union jobs and training to help the construction projects move much faster.

However, with almost 25% of the grant funding gone, the authority has only been able to “substantially” complete construction at just one of the 33 developments targeted for improvements.

Blake said the completion date for all 33 Sandy-impacted NYCHA developments is 2021. She refused to give a progress report or timeline for any individual project completions.

Of the 33 developments, 10 of them are located in Brooklyn, and nine were specifically allocated for new permanent boilers in NYCHA buildings located in Coney Island. The developments slated for the new boiler systems with the $3 billion federal allocation include Carey Gardens, Gravesend, Coney Island, Coney Island Sites 1B, 4 and 5, Haber Houses, O’Dwyer Gardens, and Surfside Gardens.

Questions about the FEMA money arose earlier this week during a joint City Council hearing of the Public Housing, and Oversight and Investigations Committees on the authority’s inability to provide proper heat this winter to some 320,000 of the 390,000 public housing residents claiming a lack of federal funding.

The projected 2021 completion date for work on all 33 developement sites coincides with the end of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s last term in office.

The mayor is a strong advocate of embattled NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye, despite calls from several of the city’s top officials to replace her – and has steadfastly said she is doing a great job.