The roof isn’t on fire but the money that the Housing Authority used to fix it might as well be, according to a report from City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
NYCHA spent $452 million to replace 715 roofs between Fiscal Years 2000 and 2010, or more than $632,000 per roof. The Comptroller’s Office inspected 35 roofs in 13 NYCHA developments that were replaced during that time-span and were under 20-year warranties. It found that 19 of them had “significant to moderate” poor conditions such as ponding water, soft and spongy spots and damaged masonry, which left them susceptible to mold growth.
Didn’t Use Warranties
The Comptroller’s staff also probed the agency’s work-order history related to roof repairs and found that just nine of the 709 were done under warranty coverage—the rest were fixed by NYCHA staff.
“At a time when saying every penny counts, NYCHA is essentially lighting money on fire by investing millions in roof repairs when it doesn’t have to,” Mr. Stringer said at a July 26 press conference at the Ingersoll Houses in Brooklyn. “For decades, NYCHA residents have endured leaky ceilings, mold and mildew, and our new audit sheds light on how NYCHA is failing to prevent it.”
At the South Beach development in Staten Island, eight of its 10 roofs were replaced 10 years into their warranty, costing the agency “$367,000 in loss of roof-investment since only one half of the $735,310 in roof investment had been realized,” the report stated. NYCHA spent $3.7 million to upgrade those roofs in 2016.
The Comptroller’s report was another blow for the agency—just four days earlier the monitor charged with overseeing reforms at NYCHA concluded that it had little chance of meeting Federal deadlines to eliminate unsafe and unsanitary conditions such as vermin, pests, mold and lead-paint.
Ignored Own Policies
Mr. Stringer’s probe found that NYCHA was “not following its internal policies and procedures regarding roof inspections,” and that it focused “largely on corrective maintenance and not on preventative maintenance.”
Development Superintendents were responsible for inspecting roofs on a monthly basis, according to NYCHA rules. However, Mr. Stringer’s team was informed by the agency that roof repairs and maintenance were mostly performed by janitorial staff. Sometimes that repair work did not comply with the roof manufacturers’ warranty requirements, the report noted.
Some of the policies were outdated, including one requiring borough-level District Superintendents—a title that no longer exists—to inspect roofs semi-annually.
Because the agency could not produce more than a quarter of the records the Comptroller’s office requested, that suggested that the monthly inspections were not always performed or documented.
Furthermore, the records didn’t always “accurately reflect the actual condition of the roofs,” and rarely noted what steps, if any, were taken to correct poor conditions, the report stated.
In Dark on Coverage
The probe also found that at the 13 developments, nine Superintendents did not even realize that the roofs were covered under warranty, and a copy of the warranty was not available at 10 of the housing complexes.
In response, NYCHA General Manager Vito Mustaciuolo said that the agency would incorporate roof warranties into its work-order system. “NYCHA is committed to providing safe, clean, and connected communities for everyone who lives in public housing,” he wrote.
NYCHA spokesperson Chester Soria said in a statement that the Comptroller’s audit and recommendations were “consistent with what the Authority has been aware of and addressing through new systems we are already implementing.”
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