Fed Monitor Approves NYCHA’s Heat Action Plan

Federal Monitor Bart M. Schwartz and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) yesterday issued the Heat Action Plan, which details the requirements for responding to a heat outage at every development and for providing alternative heating community spaces during prolonged outages.

Schwartz was installed as a federal monitor in February as part of a deal between NYCHA and the federal government after federal prosecutors found the authority under the de Blasio Administration had deliberately hidden serious health and safety issues including lead paint and toxic mold afflicting its roughly 400,000 tenants.

It also comes after numerous NYCHA developments reported heat outages last winter. The action plan names the top 20 worst performing developments, as measured by the number of outages in the 2018/2019 Heating Season.

Among the Brooklyn developments that made the list were both the Whitman and Ingersoll houses, which along with the Farragut Houses are what is known as the Fort Green Houses. Whitman reported 38 outages and Ingersoll reported 23. Other borough developments on the list were the Williamsburg houses and the Gravesend Houses.

“Every NYCHA resident is entitled to heat and hot water and this Heat Action Plan will help ensure that happens at every development. The plan provides concrete steps for how NYCHA will respond to and fix heat outages  and prevent additional ones,” said Schwartz. “It aims to minimize the length of an outage, increase maintenance and the repair of boilers and to provide adequate alternative heated spaces and warming centers.”

The action plan follows a prior action plan that governs the expenditure of $450 million in state reimbursement funds which the monitor approved on November 7. Those funds are earmarked to replace 108 aging boilers and heating plants. The plan reflects work which has been carried out during its drafting jointly by NYCHA and the monitor.

The drafting and approval of the plan is a requirement of the January 31 Agreement which appointed the Monitor. In the Agreement, NYCHA is obligated to restore heat within 12 hours of an outage.

The 35-page plan sets out a comprehensive array of detailed procedures and protocols when an outage occurs. These include responding to and resolving complaints of heat outages to communicating with residents about repairs. The plan also defines the responsibilities of third-party vendors who manage heating plans and requires the property management to perform daily inspections of the boiler rooms.

Alternative heated community spaces will be opened as a means to assist residents effected by heat outages that are expected to last for a substantial duration of time. Warming centers are also included in the plan along with NYCHA provided shuttle services to transport the residents. The role of NYCHA’s Office of Emergency Management is detailed along with a “situation room” when outages occur.

The heat action plan also requires NYCHA to conduct investigations when heat cannot be restored within 12 hours in order to prevent or lessen the recurrence of a failure. This will add to the collection of key data that the plan requires that will create analytics for predicting and preventing future failures.

The action plan also implements training for NYCHA’s staff and specifies how NYCHA must communicate, meet with and solicit feedback from the Resident Association Presidents and other residents.

“The Heat Action Plan reflects the partnership and dedication of NYCHA staff and the Federal Monitor’s team to prevent and directly address failures in our aging heating plants. The long-term plans and resident-focused protocols we have created, and have already implemented, are bringing results to NYCHA developments. We are committed to strengthening this work throughout the season and every day moving forward,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Greg Russ.