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Public Housing Spotlight

Issue 82
Published on April 19, 2001

For a printable (PDF) version of any Spotlight articles, please specify the issue and email us at nychaspotlight@netscape.net

(Click Here for NYNYCHA "preliminary" Audit
by NYC Comptroller Alan Hevesi)

(Click Here for Directory of Issues)

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Media Malingering?

(It's a waste of your money
that they're ignoring!)

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The following are all under the management of the NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA or the Authority.) All figures are taken from NYCHA's own website (Click Here *)

  • 535,000 low-income residents
  • 15,000+ employees
  • 1,406 Work Experience Program participants
  • 75,000 families use NYCHA Section 8 vouchers to pay part of their rent.
  • 165 Community Centers
  • 142 Senior Centers
  • 107 Day Care Centers
  • 39 Health clinics
  • 34 Head Start Centers
  • 33 Miscellaneous facilities featuring a literacy center, resource center and school

And that is funded by:

  • The US taxpayer (Federal Government) provides 70% of NYCHA's funds.
  • NY State and NY City only provide 2% of the funds.
  • Rents, interest and other income provide the remaining 28%.

Revenues for 1999 totaled $2.6 billion.

Based on those figures, we know that:

  • Approx. $1.82 Billion of NYCHA's 1999 budget was from Federal tax funds.
  • Approx. $52,000,000 is added from a State/City contribution
  • Rents etc. contributing $728,000,000

That's over $6.40 taken from the pocket of every man, woman and child in the United States.

  • Add another $6.50 taken from the pocket of every man, woman and child, if you live in New York City.

That means an average of $13 is taken from every man, woman and child living in the NY City area for Public Housing expenses.

Now for the kicker (again from the official NYCHA site):

"NYCHA is considered one of the best operated public housing authorities in the nation, despite its size and complexity. This standing in the public housing industry is clearly demonstrated by our consistent designation as a "High Performer" under the Public Housing Management Assessment Program (PHMAP). The program grades public housing authorities on their management performance in the areas of vacancy rates, modernization, rent collection, work order completion, physical inspections, financial management, resident services and security. NYCHA has been rated a High Performer (score of 90 or above) since 1991, culminating with a record score of 99.25 in 1997."

Yet, we at the Spotlight have shown that if NYCHA is rated amongst the best of Public Housing, the Government had better take some courses in how to HONESTLY rate a Housing Agency.

We've given facts that should force changes. Here are a few:

As has been reported both in a WWOR-TV Investigative Report by Ms. Polly Kreisman and in Spotty (Click Here), NYCHA inspected a Long Island City Warehouse and then met with a Real Estate Agent handling the property.

The building was for sale for just over $8,000,000 (Click Here).

For whatever reasons, NYCHA did not want to buy the building. However, within weeks of NYCHA's inspection, the building was purchased by a Limited Liability Group including friends of NYCHA Board Member Kalman Finkel's family (Click Here).

NYCHA then signed a 20 Year $100,000,000 lease with this "Finkel Friend's" group. As if that isn't enough of an insult to the taxpayer, we now know that the building requires major rehab work and has no Certificate of Occupancy, illegal electrical work (requiring NYCHA to supply electricity to this monstrosity by portable generator!), cracking and falling sections of floor and only a single working elevator (Click Here).

NYCHA entered into a multi-million dollar contract with Interboro Systems Inc. to purchase an Automated Timekeeping Information System that would track employee info through time clocks and transfer the relevant data to a central database. In 1993, this project began (Click Here). 8 years later, the only material benefit derived by anyone at NYCHA was Kalman Finkel getting his daughter hired by the Interboro firm, shortly before large cash payments, in the form of Change Orders, were authorized to be made to Interboro. The NYC Conflict of Interest Board fined Finkel for this unethical act. This happened 3 YEARS AFTER Spotty First Reported on Ms. Shulamis-Levy's (Fink's daughter) luck in getting hired (Click Here).

This same never-ending Timeclock fiasco was also called into question by NYCHA's Deputy General Manager for Finance, Leroy (Roy) Sinclair. Mr. Sinclair, 6 years after NYCHA began work on this project, in November, 1999, wrote: "I realize that you all have been working on ATIS for a long time, but I believe that the project has lost direction and leadership and that none of us truly knows at this point the whole picture or what works and what doesn't." (Click Here for memo.)

In the Special Corruption Issue of Spotty, we lay out just one area of NYCHA corruption, cover-up and retaliation (Click Here). 5 years later, Alan Hevesi, the NY City Comptroller, ordered an audit of the computer systems used for tracking contract work and contract payments by the NYCHA Contract Administration Department. Unfortunately, things were so screwed up throughout the 3 different systems that no audit could be completed. The auditors found different figures representing the same items in over 50% of the matches attempted on the 3 systems.

For some reason beyond our comprehension, this "Preliminary Draft" of the audit was never finalized and released, even 7 months later. So, when we were lucky enough to receive a copy of it, we published it. (Click Here to view audit.)

After all that, Spotty is a bit confused. With one in every dozen New York City resident's living in NYCHA housing, with over 16,000 people being employed by NYCHA, and with the taxpayer footing the bill for NYCHA's follies, not one major media outlet thought the audit by the Comptroller of New York City was worth mentioning. Not one thought that an email from NYCHA's top financial guru, noting that he believed "none of us truly knows at this point the whole picture or what works and what doesn't." concerning the multi-million dollar timekeeping system, not one major media outlet thought that this startling admission was worth mentioning.

NYCHA residents have become used to the fact that if Jon Benet Ramsey's parents go shopping, major TV and newspaper coverage will tell us the size of the shampoo Patsy buys, we will probably know more about the latest individual anointed to Mayor Giuliani's "Decency Commission" than we'll read about a child gone missing in the projects.

NYCHA residents have become used to the fact that if NYCHA cheats the tenants out of millions of dollars that should/could be used to raise the quality of life in the developments and could be used to help the NYCHA employees deliver better services, that story may go by the wayside while all the major Media report on a raise in cab fare from Kennedy Airport to Manhattan.

Most New Yorkers . . . hell, even most NYCHA employees, can now give you a more complete report on the conditions of the home life of the pilot of our spy plane forced to land in China than they could of the living experience of one of their half-million neighbors living in Developments scattered over the 5 boroughs.

Many New Yorkers would admit that they perceive a difference in reporting when it comes to news stories taking place in the more affluent communities as compared to the low-income nabes. While they may not have any idea of the extent of the difference in reportage, they know it exists.

But in this story, admittedly centered on an Agency/Authority that caters to that (less interesting?) low-income group, there is a real "hook" to the affluent celebrities that some of our tabloids follow as a dog to a bone. If the average NY City resident pays $13 a year to NYCHA, how much of a Donald Trump's or Donna Hanover's tax bucks are being wasted by a mismanaged (at best) or corrupt (at worse) NYCHA?


Dear Spotty,

I'm a member of Local 375, though I don't work at housing any more. I visited your site this morning, and saw that the update for April 17 still shows some unions who have not answered your request for support. I'm not surprised at all that the union has not committed to backing its members. I'm sure you realized that 375 was a part of the scheme that denied their members the right to vote for their own contract. Once a union allows the members to be ignored at contract time, how can anyone expect it to do the right thing by its members in other matters?

Over the past couple years some of the leadership of DC-37 and its local unions like 375 have been in the news with all sorts of stories on how corrupt the union had become. That is why we had a good laugh when you came out and asked them to back a hearing on corruption. You have to be kidding or all those spots have blinded you. When the word corruption is heard on Barcley Street, people begin burning files, not looking for ways to get involved.

At work we were surprised you received any response. We were more shocked when you wrote that Local 1 and 273 responded and said they would back the members. But we would have had heart attacks had DC-37 allowed any local union involvement.

We hope other union members can catch a clue from this. While a few big shots from the big 37 may have gotten sentenced to jail time, all of their hand picked buddys still roam the halls of the municipal local unions. Until they are given the boot, every action taken by the unions should be looked at as if it were part of the continuing trend of corrupt unions leading their members over a high cliff.

I do wish you much luck. I'll be one of those standing near City Hall park, lending a small bit of support. But while the unions remain in the same hands who threw out our ballots and gave us 2 years of no raises to please the Mayor, it isn't safe to be blowing no whistles in the hope of getting rid of corruption at City agencies.

© 2001 Public Housing Spotlight and John Ballinger. All rights reserved.
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Contact Jack Ballinger at nychaspotlight@netscape.net
for a Real Audio sound clip containing a
conversation wherein DOI Investigator
John Kilpatrick discusses how he learned
that 2 NYCHA execs attended
a Mafia connected contractor's funeral .

Contact Jack Ballinger at nychaspotlight@netscape.net
for a Real Audio sound clip containing
the (3 Meg) confession of Tony DiAlto.
Tony was a member of a group of
corrupt Contract Inspectors working at NYCHA.
Neither Tony nor the person he confessed to
sharing his bribes with (Richard Penesi)
were ever charged, let alone prosecuted, by DOI.

For a great source of general tenant information,
visit the Tenant Net Home Page |

And for a great source of New York City news and
policy information, visit our friends at the Gotham Gazette

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