New Federal settlement with NYCHA plunges pennies on the dollar that the City of New York allocates from 12,5¢ to 9¢.
By PROGRESS NEW YORK STAFF
The new settlement signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) and Ben Carson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, rests on $2,9 billion that the City of New York must contribute to fund critical capital improvements and back repairs at the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA. The Municipal contribution represents a drop of $1,1 billion from funding that U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley III had ruled as inadequate last November. The decrease in funding represents a plunge from 12,5¢ to the dollar to 9¢ to the dollar of the estimated value of NYCHA’s unfunded capital repairs of $32 billion.
The team of Federal prosecutors, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Yalen, Mónica Folch, Jacob Lillywhite, Talia Kraemer, and Sharanya Mohan, who have jurisdiction over the HUD settlement, have refused to provide any explanation for the drop in funding that they approved for NYCHA. The source of the drop in funding represents approx. $1 billion in foregone payments that NYCHA was supposed to have made. The team of Federal prosecutors believed that the public was owed no information about the foregone payments, including their source.
The drop in funding comes after a new revelation that the de Blasio administration continues to misrepresent the number of children exposed to, or public housing apartments that contained, poisonous lead paint. NYCHA now counts nearly 5,800 apartments that contain poisonous lead paint that also house children, more than double the number of apartments that were disclosed to Judge Pauley during legal proceedings in U.S. District Court, according to a report moved by the New York Post.
Federal Prosecutors’ Office close-mouthed about case that top Prosecutor had described as most important case on their docket.
For this report, the press office supporting U.S. Attorney Berman refused to answer several questions submitted in advance. The silence contrasts greatly with signals that U.S. Attorney Berman had telegraphed during an October 2018 speech before the Police Athletic League, when he said, in relevant part, “There is no more important case in my Office than NYCHA,” according to prepared remarks released by the U.S. Attorneys Office.
Days following the settlement, NYCHA’s interim CEO Stanley Brezenoff granted a damage-control, exit interview to the New York Times, calling the new NYCHA settlement agreement as inadequate and criticising U.S. Attorney Berman for shortsightedness in not demanding Federal monies to fund a financial rescue of NYCHA. “How is it possible for there to be this moralizing from the U.S. Attorney, as if NYCHA was a creature unto itself, not dependent on federal resources ?” he said. The symbolic Bronx cheer to U.S. Attorney Berman came after Federal prosecutors had reportedly negotiated Mr. Brezenoff’s removal from NYCHA.
All the positioning and tension is taking place as NYCHA residents have yet to realise that the settlement represents less money for repairs, even as U.S. District Judge Pauley gets ready to relinquish U.S. District Court oversight over NYCHA. According to legal filings, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is preparing to withdraw the Complaint in the Federal litigation over NYCHA’s physical condition standards within 45 days of the settlement’s announcement. Judge Pauley has endorsed such a move.
Even as New York City once again finds itself as the epicenter of a resurgent progressive social movement for social and economic justice, U.S. Attorney Berman and Judge Pauley find themselves dodging not only their immediate responsibilities and obligations to NYCHA tenants, but also their potential place in history, according to some Government reform activists. Even as the U.S. Attorney’s Office allegedly found fault with the short-term administration of NYCHA by Mr. Brezenoff, a news report speculated that a former Federal prosecutor, Bart Schwartz, who was removed an outside monitor for the troubled Platinum Partners hedge fund management company and who was warned by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to not meddle in a corruption investigation of the Buffalo Billion economic development program, is their reported choice to become an outside monitor for NYCHA.
- NYCHA finds thousands of apartments housing kids need lead repairs [The New York Post]
- New NYCHA Monitor’s Strange Political Bedfellows [New York magazine]