City releases progress report on NYCHA backlog repairs

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NEW YORK (PIX11) -- Mary Arroyo’s living situation at the Baruch Houses in Lower Manhattan is not as good as it could be, but it’s certainly better than it was when we first met her a year and a half ago.

It’s been a long road for the New York City Housing Authority -- riddled with budgetary red tape and an ambitious pledge, made by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to erase a backlog of some 420,000 open repair requests – before the end of 2013.

We pledged back then to periodically follow up to see if NYCHA would meet its goal.

“They actually have been coming to fix things. They fixed my tile under the sink. They fixed my windows. They fixed my cabinet, as you can see. I have no more holes,” Arroyo said.

The good news in this latest progress report is NYCHA completed Mary’s repairs.

Downstairs in the courtyard, tenant association president Roberto Napoleon, who’s held that title for 43 years, gave the new NYCHA under the de Blasio administration favorable reviews.

“The building is more clean, they fix the entrance, the lights. They’re gonna start installing cameras in the next four weeks all over Baruch. I’m happy.”

But NYCHA is still getting a bad rap for poor past performance.

On Thursday, the city comptroller’s office released an audit, for capital work contracts between 2010 and 2012, and found the agency consistently failed to hire local tenants to help complete jobs, as set forth in federal guidelines.

“I’m calling on NYCHA, to get their house in order. Put new controls in place. Make sure that the hiring records provided by contractors for NYCHA projects are accurate, above board, and complete,” said Scott Stringer.

NYCHA says the comptroller’s office regularly changed the scope of the audit, but does acknowledge that new practices now address certain recommendation.

How challenging has it been for NYCHA to change, and improve upon its image?

An agency spokesperson says, “One part of that challenge is to address how NYCHA is perceived. But eventually, as the work continues and the public understands NYCHA’s funding challenges, and sees the creative efforts to address them - that will change too.”