Author’s note: I wrote and mailed this letter in January via regular mail (NYC Housing central office does not give out its fax numbers). I am still awaiting response.
January 6, 2011
John Rhea, Chairman
New York City Housing Authority
New York, NY 10007
Dear Mr. Rhea:
I am writing because I have to keep on top of public housing information for the benefit of people who come to me for social services. Part of my job is to help parents of asthmatic kids reduce asthma triggers in the home environment, which many times can be done by moving into newer buildings that are by definition freer of dust, mold, leaks and other asthma triggers. On November 15, 2010, I sent an email at the website asking how applicants are considered for newer developments, if there is a system of priorities assigned for these placements in new housing stock, and which of the newer developments are taking new tenants. I sent the inquiry by email at the suggestion of an operator at NYCHA, after I had asked several NYCHA employees in the Manhattan Management office and several operators at the central office who did not know the answer.
Since I have not gotten a reply and over six weeks have passed, I called NYCHA today. An operator (Ms. Moore) told me that there is “no way to call” the correspondence unit to see when they are going to answer my email. I questioned how they can not have a phone number and she assured me that they don’t. She suggested that I “send an email” to ask about my email. I asked what I should do if they don’t answer that email either, and she said “you just have to wait.” This hardly seemed very productive.
I called back and asked to talk to someone who knows about the newer constructions and to what degree people with medical issues can get consideration for becoming tenants of these. The same operator said that no one has that information and that there was no one to transfer me to. So then I asked to be connected to the Chairman’s office, and she refused to connect me, saying that I have to call the general number back. I called it back so far three times, and each time no one would connect me to your office, they just insist that I let them answer the questions, but then when I ask they have no answers.
The last call I made, when I explained that I needed to follow up on my November email inquiry via the website, an operator (#9) offered to connect me with someone in the “correspondence unit.” You will note that the previous operator (Ms. Moore) insisted that the correspondence office could only be contacted by email, which clearly has turned out not to be the case. I left a message at the voice mail #9 connected me to.
If a person who is an advocate for others cannot get clear and timely answers about public housing when she contacts NYCHA, it troubles me to think how my clients are faring when they call.
I would greatly appreciate it therefore if a person with a body of knowledge regarding NYCHA housing stock and assignment of tenants, schedules for placement, etc. would contact me and clarify so that I can educate my clients on the process. I have dozens of clients who are awaiting transfers or who have gotten transfers within NYCHA. None to date has been shown apartments in the newer developments. It would be useful to the public and to social service workers to know how access to the newer housing stock is organized, so that everyone has a fair shot at becoming a tenant in one of these buildings.
Diane R. Pagen, LMSW