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NYCHA ANNOUNCES FUNDAMENTAL IMPROVEMENTS TO MAINTENANCE & REPAIRS IN NEW “FIX-IT-FORWARD” INITIATIVE
General Manager Kelly Marks First 100 Days with Initiative To Improve Efficiency, Accountability, Response Times, and Customer Service
NEW YORK — Marking 100 days on the job, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) General Manager Michael Kelly today announced “Fix-It-Forward,” a major initiative to overhaul maintenance and repair operations and advance the NextGeneration NYCHA goal of operating as an efficient an effective landlord. In line with the Authority’s 10-year strategic plan to focus on its core business as a landlord, Fix-It-Forward offers common-sense fixes to key parts of NYCHA’s repair process to decrease response times and increase the customer satisfaction of residents moving forward. Solutions intend to reform each stage of the repairs process—from enhanced customer service at the front end of a repair request, to the execution of repairs at the backend of a request.
“We know—what our residents and public officials know—meaningful change at NYCHA starts with the most basic and fundamental responsibility we have as a landlord: maintenance and repairs,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye. “After hearing from residents and staff about their frustrations and challenges, we took a hard look at our operating procedures. Fix-It-Forward, which enables us to execute NextGen through comprehensive initiatives, is their good feedback put into an action plan. I appreciate the General Manager for his partnership and making this such a priority.”
The host of improvement measures included in this initiative will better align operating procedures with the Optimal Property Management Operating Model (OPMOM,), a NextGen strategy which empowers local property managers with decisions to help improve repair times and customer satisfaction rates.
NYCHA Chair Olatoye, with General Manager Kelly and internal teams worked in partnership over the past few months to diagnose problems with maintenance and repair operations, and develop strategies to improve overall outcomes to achieve efficiencies and reduce the service time for minor repairs to an average of seven days. As General Manager, Michael Kelly is responsible for the overall administration and management of day-to-day operations across NYCHA’s 328 developments, including maintenance and repairs.
“Despite progress, NYCHA’s track record on maintenance and repairs has been poor—period,” said NYCHA General Manager Michael Kelly. “Inadequate funding, aging buildings and cumbersome procedures have failed our residents who are forced to live in substandard conditions, and handicapped our hardworking maintenance workers, skilled trades men and women, and caretakers, who work every day to improve the quality of life for our residents. Without the resources and improved operating procedures to set NYCHA up for success, we cannot move the needle on maintenance and repairs and become the landlord our residents deserve.”
While funding continues to be the primary obstacle for fully addressing maintenance and repair issues in NYCHA’s aging buildings, inefficient procedures cause residents to experience unnecessary delays in maintenance and repair work.
In response to resident concerns and in-the-field feedback, Fix-It-Forward includes immediate measures and long-term strategies outlined in NextGen to fundamentally change the way NYCHA manages repair requests and processes.
Operation strategies are being piloted in several test developments and best practices will be assembled to implement across all developments. Fix-It-Forward addresses:
Problem: Repairs take too long
Solution: Optimal Property Management Operating Model (OPMOM)
As outlined in the NextGeneration NYCHA Plan, the Optimal Property Management Operating Model (OPMOM) is structured to empower local property managers at several test developments to build their own budgets and determine staffing needs. The Authority projects that localization of management will lead to a reduction in repair time for basic maintenance to seven days.
OPMOM launched in January at 18 developments, impacting 19,993 apartments.
Problem: Wait times between individual repairs on a single project take too long; multiple requests have to be made for repairs
Solution: Real-Time Dispatching & myNYCHA App
Tracking and reporting repairs and work order completion in real-time through dispatch communications, instead of through paper work slips. Data and notes are entered into the repair database in real-time, which enables the dispatcher to schedule necessary follow-up work orders on-the-spot and to call residents to verify if the appointment was missed. The response time for emergency repairs is expected to be faster, because the location of workers will be known in real-time, enabling the dispatcher to deploy the closest worker as a first responder. The MyNYCHA app will enable residents to create, submit, view, schedule/reschedule and update inspections and maintenance service requests 24 hours a day-7 days a week.
Real-time dispatching launched in June at Woodside Houses and next in Brownsville Houses impacting 2,695 apartments; the myNYCHA app is in testing and is scheduled to be launched at the end of the Summer.
Problem: Complex repair projects have unnecessary delays
Solution: One Call
Complex repair projects typically require multiple components (for example plumbing, carpentry, plastering, and painting) and require an individual work order to be opened for each part of the job, since each task requires a specialized trade and skill. Currently, only one skilled trade work order may be opened at a time for a repair project, which leads to unnecessary delays between open and closed work tickets related to a project. The One Call initiative will allow residents and property managers to schedule all necessary components of a repair project with ‘one call.’ This program will allow operations to plan complex repairs with residents when the request in initiated, not follow-up as parts of the repair are completed.
One Call is to launch in August at the developments of Patterson, Mott Haven, Mitchel, Mill Brook and Melrose, impacting 6,794 apartments.
Problem: Minor repairs should not take as long as they do
Solution: Real-Time Repairs
Instead of scheduling individual work orders for each minor repair, which is inefficient and time consuming for both residents and workers who must schedule multiple visits, all repairs can occur in real-time, when an apartment is inspected. Simple repairs, such as smoke detectors, window guards, and minor plumbing repairs, and more complex repairs requiring skill trades or vendors will be scheduled with the residents in real-time.
Real-Time Repairs launched in June in the developments of Mott Haven, Seth Low and Woodson, impacting 1,936 apartments.
Problem: Mold continues to be an issue
Solution: Capital Repairs & Revised Procedures
The City is investing $300 million in a roof replacement program over the next three years, which will enable NYCHA to complete repairs at the worst roofs in the portfolio, addressing one of the primary causes of mold. NYCHA has systematically changed how mold is handled, with a greater emphasis on determining the root cause which leads to mold, instead of superficial repairs that don’t address the underlying problem. In collaboration with by the New York City Department of Mental Health & Hygiene, NYCHA engaged environmental scientists from Rutgers University and Hunter College to help design new training programs. NYCHA has trained more than 350 supervisors in mold remediation. Supervisors have trained staff in the field to improve staff competency on how to address the root cause (leaking roof/pipes, moisture build up in the bathroom, exc.)
Revised procedures instituted in June; roof repairs to 66 buildings across the City with the highest numbers of maintenance repair requests such as leak repairs, painting and mold, started at the Queensbridge Houses in June, impacting 3,147 apartments.
Problem: Perception that data and metrics on work orders aren’t real
Solution: Enhanced Performance Measures
For too long, the number of outstanding work orders has been the sole measure of performance. NYCHA is working to reorient performance-based measures to the total time to complete an entire repair, or service time. NYCHA will also communicate performance results by posting the OPMOM balanced scorecard that tracks metrics and performance at a property in the key areas of operations, including maintenance and emergency service levels, budget, customer service and resident satisfaction. With a localized property management model and use of the balanced scorecard, NYCHA will be better equipped to isolate and report on each development’s metrics. Scorecards to be launched in the Fall.
The meaningful changes included in Fix-It-Forward are intended to increase efficiency, provide a more timely sequencing of work, decrease wait times and most importantly, enhance customer service.
"I commend NYCHA for taking this crucial next step in reforming how they do business,” said New York City Public Advocate Letitia James. “With so many public housing tenants needing vital repairs to their apartments, an overhaul of outdated procedures is a common-sense solution to addressing their needs. This is an important piece in making sure NYCHA lives up to its commitment to residents and the future of public housing in our City.”
"From a spiraling deficit to a deteriorating infrastructure, NYCHA is facing an existential challenge, stemming from decades of disinvestment by the Federal and State government. Disinvestment tells most, but not all, of the story. Part of NYCHA's problem is lies from within. The point of the Fix it Forward initiative is to correct the inefficiencies in its own bureaucracy,” said New York City Councilmember Ritchie Torres, Chair of the Committee on Public Housing. When it comes to scrutinizing NYCHA's practices, the City Council has been pointed and persistent, holding hearings that neither mince words nor pulls punches. At the same time, we in the Council believe that NYCHA, with its new leadership, deserves a chance to experiment with what works and to make reforms. Changing a system that is literally the size of a city is no easy task. NYCHA is the hardest system to reform in the City, and reforming it will require a sustained commitment of time and resources to a degree never seen before. What NYCHA needs, in an moment of reform, is not more piling-on. What it needs is partnership, with an eye toward problem-solving. It is time to get it right--together."
"NYCHA has got real problems and at last, we are starting to see a little glimmer of hope that they may be turning the corner," said Ann Morris, President of the Manhattanville Houses Residents Association. "It's easy to talk about repairs, but it's hard to make it a reality. Instead of more talk from NYCHA, we are seeing a plan and a leadership who is willing to listen and work with residents to make it happen."
"I have the honor of representing three major NYCHA developments in northern Manhattan-- Grant, Douglass, and Manhattanville. For years residents of each of these developments have suffered terribly with deteriorating buildings and unacceptably weak maintenance,” said New York City Councilmember Mark Levine. “These problems are due in large part to drastic cut-backs in federal and state funding. But NYCHA's own operating procedures have also been a major source of the problem. I am thrilled that the Authority's new leadership has acknowledged this in clear-eyed fashion, and has put forth a detailed plan for dramatically revamping maintenance and repair systems. I am hopeful that this will produce desperately needed improvement for NYCHA's residents and staff alike."
"I'm no stranger to criticizing NYCHA," said Aixa Torres, the Smith Houses Tenant Association President. "But, for the first time--since I can't remember when, NYCHA is giving us possible solutions to the problems with maintenance and repairs instead of more excuses. This is a different NYCHA than it was two years ago and in another two years, I hope it's even more different and we see more positive changes."
"Within the framework of a long-term strategic plan, NYCHA is overhauling agency practices that don't work and must be improved,” said Rachel Fee, Executive Director of the New York Housing Conference. “It will take time for some of these changes to be implemented but NYCHA is on the right track to provide better services for residents."
“As the former President of the Red Hook West Resident Association and current NYCHA Board member, I know firsthand the complex challenges NYCHA faces day in and day out,” said Ms. Beatrice Byrd, who has served as a NYCHA Board Member since 2013. “The Chair and GM are taking a direct approach to tackle the most popular criticism of NYCHA: the rate of repairs. These programs have the potential to put NYCHA on the right track and I look forward to seeing the continued progress from their leadership.”
“I’ve lived in public housing almost my whole life, and I’ve advocated on behalf of residents nearly as long,” said Ms. Willie Mae Lewis, current NYCHA Board Member and former President of the St. Nicholas Houses. “Sometimes it’s hard to believe that change is possible, when promises have been broken in the past, but I believe this Chair and Administration want to make things better. I may not agree all the time, but I see real solutions being offered up to move us forward, instead of more promises.”
“As the first voice for residents on the NYCHA Board and a public housing resident for 50 years, I know firsthand the number one criticism of NYCHA is with maintenance and repairs,” said Mr. Victor González, NYCHA Board Member and former President of the Wise Towers Residents Association. “When implemented, these repair initiatives could really make a difference in the lives of residents. The Chair and General Manager should be recognized for taking the necessary steps to help solve this long-standing problem.”
“These comprehensive steps will go a long way in helping rebuild trust with residents,” said Ismene Speliotis, Executive Director of MHANY Management Inc. ”From a property management perspective, these improvements get to the core source of the problem and offer a systematic way to increase efficiencies, improve timely response and provide better quality repairs, after years of deferred maintenance needs. An overhaul like this will not happen overnight, but it’s the best and only way to start tackling the problems NYCHA faces. I commend NYCHA’s leadership for their transparency and willingness to do what it takes to get the job done.”