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NYC Report Critical of Public Housing Agency

NYC Report Critical of Public Housing Agency
City Council Speaker and others called for the report's release.

The city's public housing authority is beset by inefficient management and bureaucratic practices that contribute to a growing repair backlog of hundreds of thousands of work orders, a city-hired consultant said in a report made public Thursday.

City Housing Authority Commissioner John Rhea said following the release that he will seek to overhaul the agency's board, and officials stressed that some of the recommended changes in the report by The Boston Consulting Group were already under way.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and others had called for the report's release after a series of articles recently published in the Daily News that were critical of the agency. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the report was released as soon as it was ready.

It found that problems with the authority's property management practices were contributing to a repair backlog that has already reached about 330,000 work orders. Additionally, poor procurement practices mean that the agency is paying differing prices for the same items - with prices for a gallon of white paint ranging from $8 to $28, according to the report.

Bureaucratic and rigid practices make the agency far less efficient than private property management companies, the report said, and the authors urged managers to decentralize operations so resources could be deployed more efficiently.

Bloomberg defended the agency Thursday, saying it faced significant challenges because of federal budget cuts. Despite that, he said, emergency repairs are being completed in record time.

"Unlike virtually every other city, we are not walking away from our public housing," Bloomberg said. "We're working to make our public housing better and bigger, and we're having to do it when everybody's cutting back funding."