The New York City Housing Authority also known as NYCHA, had a truly eventful year in 2018 with the headlines they made over a span of months. With many of these atrocities hidden for years by the city, these public health crises were finally uncovered and brought to light. The cases that are more recent are still deplorable and need to have continuous light shed on them due to these instances not being isolated by any means. NYCHA’s tenants and observers within New York City already knew of the agency’s uselessness, but with all these cases highlighting New York City’s negligent nature in handling of them, its only right to declare New York City itself as the biggest fucking slumlord of them all. Let’s discuss some of these deplorable, unfortunate examples:
EXAMPLE 1: THE ACTUAL NUMBER OF KIDS TAINTED BY LEAD
NYCHA has long been under fire for lead-paint cases that led to developmental delays in kids that have been affected by it. The city only admitted to 19 children who lived in NYCHA that tested positive for elevated levels of lead in their blood in the last 10 years but in June 2018, a shocking revelation hit the news making month-long headlines. The city actually was aware of more than 800 children living in NYCHA who tested positive for levels of elevated lead in their blood between the years of 2012 and 2016; A COMPLETELY STARK DIFFERENCE IN WHAT WAS ORIGINALLY REPORTED:
For the first time the city acknowledged that from 2012 through 2016, 820 children ages 5 and under living in NYCHA apartments had tested positive for elevated lead levels of 5 to 9 micro-grams per deciliter of blood. Since 2012, the CDC has recommended public health intervention for any child from infants to 5 years old with blood-lead levels of 5 micro-grams or greater. Elevated blood-lead levels are known to cause developmental delays in small children. – 2018, NYTimes
EXAMPLE 2: NYCHA Water Contamination
Another NYCHA public health crisis was exposed in July 2018. It was revealed that NYCHA’s water tanks were examined by city inspectors of the New York City Department of Health. The water tanks were found to have dead birds, dead rats, flying insects, dead squirrels, and feces amongst other grotesque findings. All these life-threatening, hazardous findings were handwritten in NYCHA’s “Annual Roof Tank Inspection Reports,” which are filled with findings and horrendous details that NYCHA refused to report to city health officials.
“Inside a stack of hundreds of internal NYCHA documents, vivid details of contamination leap off dozens of pages– dead birds and squirrels, flying insects, and things floating and growing inside NYCHA’s many damaged wooden drinking water tanks. But the documents also show that evidence of potentially hazardous conditions in its water tanks was blotted out using white-out under a recent policy change that appears to have had a chilling effect.” – City & State, 2018
EXAMPLE 3: Rat infestation
In 2018, NYCHA residents in the Claremont Houses in the Bronx had to deal with a terrifying rat infestation after a trash compactor in the basement was shut off, making the rats move upwards to apartments and making conditions unlivable. A 1-year child was bit on the stomach by a rat and had to receive care with antibiotics. Videos were captured by the tenants which shows rats climbing on sinks in the kitchen, all throughout cupboards and in toilets.
“I should never have to experience not one but seven rats in my kitchen,” Martinez said. It’s disgusting. All over the stove, the washing machine, they just invaded my apartment.” – CBS New York, 2018
EXAMPLE 4: No heat or hot water on holidays or coldest days of year
A problem that has been prevalent throughout the decades for NYCHA continues to persist. During the Thanksgiving break, NYCHA tenants went without hot water or heat to celebrate their time with their families.
“I’ve heard so many stories of the pipes freezing and that’s why there’s no heat or cleaning the water tank and that’s why there’s no water,’ the 45-year old mom said. “It’s literally the same excuse every year. You couldn’t have done this in the summer so by the time comes winter it’s done?” – NY Post, 2018
Recently on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, New York City experienced weather as low as 9 degrees and NYCHA residents faced the same fate they did during Thanksgiving break and random times throughout the harsh winters:
“No heat, no hot water! It’s cold in there! We got the stove going all day and still freezing! It’s cold in here. It’s terrible!” said Deloris Byrd, one of 2,829 residents affected at Brooklyn’s Bushwick Houses when the heat went out due to an electrical issue Monday morning. “I’m going to be 78 and I got health issues. No hot water, no heat. I pray they get it back soon or I’ll be in big trouble,” she said.” – NY Post, 2019
These are only a few examples from 2018 to present 2019. Years and years, tenants of NYCHA have been facing negligence at the hands of NYCHA and New York City. The poorest and most vulnerable segments of New York City’s population live within NYCHA and deserve adequate housing conditions. These aren’t just random instances, or regular issues. These are the public health crises NYCHA’s tenants are burdened. Usually when we think of state-sanctioned violence, we think of police brutality cases, but causing physical harm to the health of hundred thousands of tenants is also state violence. Knowingly hiding and keeping details to cover their asses has harmed and put hundred thousands of poor people at risk of serious health complications. This is state violence at play and the tenants are the subjects of it. How long are we going to stand for New York City’s violence towards NYCHA residents? When the year’s list of worst slumlords are compiled, make sure to put New York City on top as the reigning champion.