NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is taking a closer look at the quality of life at New York City Housing Authority residences, on the heels of one of the largest gang take downs in city history.
Back in March, Bharara launched a civil investigation into whether NYCHA has provided appropriate living conditions within their facilities. According to Bharara, poor living conditions often entices or fosters gang activity, 1010 WINS Glenn Schuck reported.
“There are over 400 thousand NYCHA residents who according to Housing and Urban Development regulations are entitled to housing that is — I quote, and this is from the regulations — ‘decent, safe, sanitary, and in good repair,'” Bharara said. “And it’s clear that many are not getting that.”
“The health and wellbeing of our residents is our top priority. It’s central to our strategic vision of a safe, clean, and more connected NYCHA,” a NYCHA spokesperson said. “Over the past two years, NYCHA has invested and continues to invest millions in improved lighting, CCTV cameras and other critical improvements. The Authority has partnered closely with the NYPD and others to address systemic neighborhood public safety challenges, developing enhanced communications on permanent exclusion and launching the collaborative Public Safety Advisory Committee.”
On Wednesday, hundreds of police officers and federal agents raided the NYCHA-operated Eastchester Gardens Public Housing complex and surrounding areas in the Bronx, arresting 120 alleged members and affiliates of two rival gangs.
Officials said the alleged gangs are the Big Money Bosses, or BMB, and the 2Fly YGz, or 2Fly. Bharara said they “allegedly wreaked havoc on the streets of the Northern Bronx for years by committing countless acts of violence against rival gang members and innocents alike.”
Authorities said 2Fly mainly operated in and around the Eastchester Gardens housing development selling drugs including marijuana, crack cocaine and prescription pills; and would store guns at the playground or in nearby apartments or cars.
BMB primarily operated on White Plains Road from 215th Street to 233rd Street selling marijuana, crack cocaine and prescription pills while storing guns in abandoned homes and other places near their drug spots, authorities said.
If living conditions at NYCHA residences do not meet standards, Bharara could sue the city to ensure appropriate living conditions. Bharara could also ask U.S. Housing and Urban Development to step in as a monitor to ensure acceptable quality-of-life standards are met.
At an earlier hearing, NYCHA chair Shola Olatoye testified that Bharara’s office had requested and has received around 440 million records from the Housing Authority, relating to all aspects of its internal workings, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.
According to Bharara, NYCHA projects must be free of lead and mold, have good lighting and working elevators.