January 31, 2013By Hiring More Workers and Improving Efficiencies, NYCHA Sets Goal of Eliminating Backlog by End of 2013
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and New York City Housing Authority Chairman John Rhea today announced an aggressive plan with the goal of eliminating the backlog of 420,000 open repair work orders in NYCHA properties. Sustained underfunding by the Federal government has forced NYCHA to cut maintenance and repair staff, while at the same time, NYCHA properties that were constructed decades ago have suffered, as federal capital improvement and repair funding has also declined. As a result of Federal disinvestment, the wait time for some non-emergency repair requests made today can be as long as two years. Under this plan, NYCHA intends to institute new operational efficiencies and make changes to processes that will result in their achieving the following goals: eliminating the entire backlog of outstanding repair requests by the end of 2013; permanently reducing the average wait time for repair work to one week for minor corrective repairs and two weeks for repairs needing skilled tradesmen; and responding to all emergency repair requests within 24 hours. NYCHA also will provide quarterly reports on the status of the backlog reduction. The Mayor made the announcement at the Drew Hamilton Houses in West Harlem where he was joined by Assembly Member Keith Wright.
“No one has felt the impact of Federal underfunding more than NYCHA residents, who have had to face long waits for repairs to apartments and public spaces,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Despite these severe funding challenges, we refuse to turn our backs on public housing – something we have seen other cities throughout the country do. Through better management of materials and equipment inventory, improved scheduling of skilled trades workers and by hiring more workers to make repairs, NYCHA will tackle the backlog of old repairs and deal with new requests more quickly.”
“Unlike so many other cities, New York City has refused to abandon public housing and public housing residents,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel. “Today's commitment to reducing the maintenance and repair backlog is the latest evidence of Mayor Bloomberg's commitment to resident quality of life.”
“The New York City Housing Authority understands and respects our residents’ frustration over the current backlog of repair and maintenance work,” said NYCHA Chairman Rhea. “In spite of our budgetary constraints, we have a responsibility to work smarter and better with what resources we do have, which is why expediting maintenance and repairs has been a top priority in our strategic roadmap Plan NYCHA. This Action Plan is our commitment to seeking solutions to enhance our residents’ quality of life.”
“This Plan is the culmination of input from a broad group of NYCHA stakeholders, including employees, unions, advocacy groups and residents,” said NYCHA General Manager Cecil House. “With this Action Plan we are empowering NYCHA workers with tools and resources that they need to eliminate the backlog of repair work orders.”
NYCHA identified the biggest contributing factors to getting repairs completed quickly: making sure enough quantity and quality of material and equipment are available to do the repairs; coordinating the scheduling for work of various skilled trades, such as carpenters, electricians, plasterers and plumbers; and hiring additional labor to perform the work. NYCHA began tackling the issue of the repair backlog beginning in 2010 by laying the groundwork in its strategic roadmap Plan NYCHA, published in December 2011. The Authority began dedicating staff to a series of rapid repairs at developments with the highest number of backlogged work orders in June 2011, addressing 102,000 outstanding repairs to date.
“This plan looks good on paper and could well work,” Local 237 President Gregory Floyd, who represents 7,000 NYCHA workers, said. “Our members have always done this best and will continue to do so. We will evaluate the plan’s progress over the next quarter.”
“I commend NYCHA for endeavoring upon an ambitious and essential plan to reduce the persistent work order backlog entirely by the end of this year,” said Council Member Rosie Mendez, Chair of Council’s Public Housing Committee. “I am proud to partner with NYCHA on this initiative, which is a natural outgrowth of the $10 Million in funding the City Council provided in the FY 2013 Budget to hire 176 residents in new jobs to address over 100,000 work orders in the current queue. I hope we can continue to work in alliance to provide our residents with the services they need to grow and thrive in their homes.”
“I commend John Rhea and the Executive team for coming up with a strategy and plan to address the backlog work orders that are necessary,” said Reginald Bowman, President of the Citywide Council of President, a residents' leaders group. “And I applaud the Mayor for assisting NYCHA with the resources necessary to get the job done for the residents.”
The announcement took place at the Drew Hamilton Houses in West Harlem, where NYCHA used $25 million from its federalization transaction to invest in capital improvements and maintenance and repairs for its 3,000 residents. NYCHA launched a rapid repair team in June 2011, grouping maintenance and skilled workers to help reduce significant repair backlogs. The team of workers targeted buildings with the highest number of repair work orders per apartment, including Drew Hamilton. NYCHA is executing the Action Plan with savings created from Plan NYCHA initiatives that include reducing Central Office costs that has realized $10 million to reinvest in this frontline effort. The Plan was devised with input from employees that included Property Management staff such as maintenance workers; Customer Contact Center staff who handle maintenance requests and complaints from residents and staff; skilled trades employees; and staff from all other NYCHA departments.