NYC lawmakers blast NYCHA’s ‘inadequate’ coronavirus response, including spotty cleaning protocols

The NYCHA-run Jackson Houses in the South Bronx.
The NYCHA-run Jackson Houses in the South Bronx.

The New York City Housing Authority has done a poor job cleaning apartment complexes and enforcing social distancing guidelines even though its residents are “uniquely vulnerable” to coronavirus, according to a group of Big Apple lawmakers.
In a blistering Tuesday letter to NYCHA Chairman Gregory Russ, 11 members of the city’s Democratic congressional delegation said constituents have told them that the beleaguered Housing Authority isn’t cleaning its 71 senior-only buildings five times a week and its other buildings at least three times a week, despite promising to do so to help fight the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Residents have reported that the common areas in their buildings are being cleaned only once per week,” reads the letter, which was organized by Manhattan Rep. Carolyn Maloney.
Maloney and her colleagues said they’ve also heard that “large groups of people” have congregated in common areas of NYCHA buildings as recently as last week — even though Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio implemented strict social distancing protocols last month in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.
The lawmakers charged NYCHA officials broke another promise by not reaching out to resident leaders about what’s being done to contain the virus, even as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city top 72,000, with more than 3,200 deaths.
“We are disturbed,” the NYC pols wrote.
NYCHA spokespeople did not immediately return requests for comment.

The lawmakers said NYCHA’s “inadequate” coronavirus response is particularly troubling since New Yorkers who live in public housing statistically have “much higher rates of asthma, diabetes and other underlying health conditions.”

“Moreover, NYCHA residents are uniquely vulnerable to infectious disease due to the high density of residents,” they wrote. “Consequently, it is crucial that NYCHA take, to the fullest extent, every possible precaution to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 in all of its sites.”

Last week, NYCHA said it was reducing its on-site staff to “further implement social distancing.” The authority also said it was suspending all in-person meetings between staff and residents.

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