Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined more than 100 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) tenant leaders and residents of all ages for a rally today at the Bronx River Houses to bring attention to the agency’s failure to spend money that has been given to it to improve tenants’ lives. The borough president also called on the agency to open its books to the public for review.
“No matter how great or small an issue, NYCHA can always find a way to fail. Be it lying about lead paint inspections or failing to provide adequate heat during the coldest months, NYCHA has demonstrated time and time again it cannot deliver for its more than 400,000 tenants,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “This latest escapade shows that NYCHA cannot even do something nice for its residents when someone else pays them to do it.”
Last year, Borough President Diaz allocated $139,000 in capital dollars to NYCHA to provide computers and other technical assistance to the community centers in three Bronx developments—the Bronx River Houses, the Sonia Sotomayor Houses and the Soundview Houses.
The money was intended to kick-off a pilot program to provide new programming opportunities within NYCHA developments and activate community centers in new ways in order to assist tenants with everyday tasks, be it homework for young people to job searches for adults and everything in between. To date, not a penny of this money has been spent.
Tenant leaders at these developments have circulated petitions throughout the summer, collecting nearly 1,000 signatures from residents of the Bronx River Houses. The petitions demand that NYCHA move to spend the money and bring new computers to these centers before the start of the upcoming school year.
“I’m very disgusted because the community center is a resource, not just an after school or senior center but a safe haven, a tool. The director of this center fulfilled every step with regarding this grant through the Bronx Borough President Office, and Bronx River was one of the chosen centers to solidified the grant. Now NYCHA has not answered any of our questions. We have residents that need this computer room to create resumes, students that need to apply for college. NYCHA, do right and release the funding,” said Norma Saunders, tenant leader at the Bronx River Houses.
At the press conference Borough President Diaz called for NYCHA’s books to be opened for public review, adding that NYCHA should be forced to explain how it spends—or does not spend—money that has been allocated to the agency.
“It is time for the agency to open its books to the public. Put them online. Let’s be transparent. Let’s see how much money has been allocated to NYCHA, and just how much of that money has been spent,” said Borough President Diaz. “When money sits unspent, we need to know why that is. We can no longer accept this level of unaccountability.”
Video of the press conference could be viewed here.