NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer is putting NYCHA’s feet to the fire, alleging the city housing agency is stonewalling efforts to investigate why so many residents have been left without heat or hot water.
Stringer’s office announced that a second subpoena was issued to NYCHA on Friday, demanding they turn over information about multiple outages last winter. On Saturday, the comptroller said the city housing authority had “purposely done everything they can” to delay a year-long audit into the embattled agency.
WEB EXTRA: See Scott Stringer’s entire news conference on the NYCHA heating debacle
“The comprehensive audit was launched earlier this year following similar widespread heating outages last winter. However, NYCHA has continuously failed to provide substantive information and access to the Comptroller’s audit team,” Stringer office said in a press release.
Standing in front of the Grant Houses in Harlem, Stinger and residents revealed the scope of how bad the living conditions have gotten. Many residents told reporters they’ve repeatedly filed tickets over broken heaters and boilers, but the complaints were allegedly ignored by NYCHA for weeks each time.
“This is a citywide disgrace!” Stringer declared. “They failed to turn over information because they have something to hide.”
The comptroller vowed to uncover why residents in public housing have faced the same winter problems year after year and threatened to take the case to court if NYCHA does not immediately surrender their records into city heating outages.
“When we ask for documents, you must turn them over because lives are at stake,” Stringer explained.
When asked about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s belief that NYCHA was undergoing a culture change, Stringer pushed back saying, “NYCHA is still running the same playbook – lie, deny.”
While NYCHA continues to allegedly impede public investigations into last year’s heating debacle, New Yorkers in public housing are already suffering through the authority’s failures this year.
Friday’s frigid temperatures left residents in Harlem unable to escape the extreme cold. They have reportedly been without heat or hot water for several weeks.
NYCHA residents say they were also left without heat during the city’s first snowstorm:
“They don’t care… The city commissioner, the mayor, all of them are in cahoots together,” Grant Houses resident Barbara Stevens charged Saturday. “I pay my bills and I should have heat and hot water, it’s not fair to be treated like hood rats because you live in the projects!”
New York City Public Advocate and Attorney General-elect Letitia James called the situation “completely unacceptable.”
“I am deeply concerned that NYCHA continues to be plagued by such serious and widespread problems that put children and seniors at risk. Once again, NYCHA has demonstrated a complete failure to ensure tenants are living in safe homes and instead is subjecting them to dangerous and illegal conditions. We cannot wait any longer to see real action and improvements at NYCHA – the health of New Yorkers is at stake,” she said in a statement released Saturday.
CBS2 reached out to NYCHA, but didn’t immediately hear back. Stringer has threatened to take the case to court if the agency doesn’t hand over its records immediately.