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Number of Warped Public Housing Buildings Tripled in 6 Years, Official Says

 There has been an increase in NYCHA buildings with structural problems from 2008 to 2014, according to a report issued by Comptroller Scott Stringer on Thursday.
There has been an increase in NYCHA buildings with structural problems from 2008 to 2014, according to a report issued by Comptroller Scott Stringer on Thursday.
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DNAinfo/Gustavo Solis

MIDTOWN — The walls and floors holding up the city's public housing buildings continue to crumble — and at the rate that Mayor Bill de Blasio is funding their repairs, the city will never catch up, according to a new report released by Comptroller Scott Stringer.

The number of NYCHA buildings with bulging or sloping walls — which the report describes as a key indication of "continuous neglect or serious damage to the structure" — more than tripled from 2008 to 2014, from 365 to 1,164, according to data from the 2014 Federal Census' Housing and Vacancy Survey used in Stringer's report.

Despite drastically worsening conditions, de Blasio's administration, though having committed a significant amount to the cause, barely scratches the surface of the capital repairs needed, according to NYCHA spokesman Isaac McGinn.

"The de Blasio administion has committed nearly half-a-billion dollars for roof replacements, brickwork, and other quality-of-life improvements following decades of government disinvestment that have left NYCHA confronting $17 billion in capital needs," McGinn said in a statement. 

From 2008 to 2014, or within a six-year span, the number of walls that sagged and sloped tripled. Between 2011 and 2014, there's been a 371 percent increase in major cracks on outside walls, a 72 percent increase in holes or missing flooring and a 38 percent jump in floors that sagged and sloped, according to the comptroller's data.

The report also touched on the state of the apartments inside. Of the seven major issues tracked in census data used in the comptroller's report — including heating, vermin, cracks and holes in walls — 35 percent of apartments in NYCHA housing reported being affected by three of them.

“Housing conditions at NYCHA remain a tenant’s nightmare, with moldy units, holes in floors, and broken walls,” Stringer said in a statement. “These apartments are our most valuable affordable housing resource, which is why it’s so vital for NYCHA to bring these units into a state of good repair. Fixing these troubling conditions and giving every NYCHA resident a safe place to live must be a priority for the City.”

Some areas saw improvement. There was a 72 percent decrease in loose or hanging roofing, and a 44 percent drop in broken or loose window frames, according to the study.

There was also “consistent improvement” since 2002 in wheelchair accessibility, the report reads, yet 13 percent of buildings were still deemed inaccessible in 2014.

The census survey also measured for the first time the presence of “musty or moldy smells” inside apartments.

About a quarter of public housing residents reported some moldy smells and 7 percent, or 12,600 public housing units, said it was a daily occurrence.

“These findings are deeply troubling and we must take immediate steps to ensure that housing conditions at NYCHA improve across the board,” Stringer said.

To address the capital repairs and NYCHA's budget shortfall, Stringer previously recommended de Blasio direct surplus funds from the Battery Park Housing Authority to use for public housing repairs.

“I again urge the Administration to give their support to direct surplus Battery Park City Authority funds to create the first new funding stream in a generation for NYCHA," he said. "If we want every New Yorker to have a fair and fighting chance to make it in this city, we have an obligation to act without delay.” 

City Hall acknowledged that NYCHA buildings' state of disrepair was a serious issue, but said moving resources from a community wasn't the best way to approach the problem.

“NYCHA’s capital funding needs are serious — they didn’t begin overnight — and today they require new investments to ensure the future stability of our city’s public housing," City Hall spokeswoman Aja Worthy-Davis said in a statement. "Moving resources from one low-income community to another does not address the larger, complex housing needs of working-class New Yorkers.”