Local leaders, residents fight for federal money to fix NYCHA

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Local leaders joined NYCHA families in Harlem Monday, pushing to make public housing a bigger part President Joe Biden’s  “Build Back Better” infrastructure package.

Advocates that spoke Monday said the housing portion of the plan doesn’t go far enough.

For over a year now, Callie Moore said, every time it rains, it rains inside her home. And she said her story is common at the Grant Houses, a NYCHA development in Harlem, with repairs taking months — even years — to fix.

Moore joined Rep. Ritchie Torres, New York City Councilmember Mark Levine and tenant lawyer Shaun Abreu. Their message to Biden: write a big check now.

“Public housing prevents homelessness on a catastrophic scale,” said Torres.

Torres and Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon sent a letter back in March to Biden asking him to almost double the funding for public housing repairs in his infrastructure plan, upping it to $70 billion. Torres calls public housing a humanitarian crisis that was created by “decades of chronic underfunding by Congress.”

Torres wants $40 billion to go directly to NYCHA.

Residents like Maureen Johnson believe the political power is finally in place to make it happen.

“It might happen. We have a different president in the White House. It may even happen in my lifetime,” said Johnson, who lives at the Grant Houses.

“I have spoken to Sen. Chuck Schumer he assures me we will secure at least $70 billion for public housing,” said Torres.

A NYCHA spokesperson told PIX11,“NYCHA appreciates all funding support from all levels of government. The Biden Administration’s ‘American Jobs Plan’ calls for $40 billion in public housing capital, to be distributed to Public Housing Authorities across the country. That number is equal to NYCHA’s need by itself, a need that grows by approximately $1 billion each year.”

Torres said he is cautiously optimistic that he will be able to push for more money and help for public housing as negotiations continue in Washington DC.

As for Moore’s repairs NYCHA says they are on it,.

“NYCHA staff visited the apartment and scheduled repairs for this week for a bubbled and cracked ceiling and peeling paint. Staff offered to paint the entire apartment but the resident requested that only the areas that need repairs get fixed. Staff will also replace a shower pole this week after the resident requested one,” a spokesperson said.

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