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The Impacts of Living in NYCHA

On July 2, 2020, we released “The Impacts of Living in NYCHA,” a new report with the Regional Plan Association. The report provides a unique glimpse into the deplorable living conditions of CVH members and NYCHA residents in Far Rockaway, and highlights the urgency with which we need to bring better conditions to NYCHA to ensure the health of hundreds of thousands of residents.

In 2018, CVH Board Co-Chair and NYCHA resident Vernell Robinson and other resident leaders engaged in an extensive door-to-door survey to document health and living conditions in NYCHA buildings. This 400-hour effort reached more than 700 people - predominantly Black and Brown - across 35 buildings in five developments in the Rockaways. Collecting the on-the-ground knowledge and experience of residents is vital to obtain a true picture of NYCHA.

The findings of the survey are grim:

  • 81 percent of residents need immediate repairs to their apartments, with more than half needing bathroom repairs and 45 percent needing kitchen repairs.

  • One-quarter of residents say that living conditions directly affect their physical health, with residents experiencing conditions ranging from asthma and other respiratory issues to central nervous system problems and chronic fatigue.

  • One-third say that living conditions directly affect their mental health, adding greatly to stress, depression, and other issues.

The living conditions in NYCHA buildings are simply inhumane. The toxic environment is destroying the health of our communities, which are largely Black and Brown residents. We’ve been speaking out about our plight for years — decades — and NYCHA management just doesn’t seem to care. We are proud to have conducted this survey and worked with RPA on this important report exposing the truth about NYCHA living conditions. NYCHA can no longer turn a blind eye to this blatant injustice. I am committed to ensuring that the voices of public housing residents are heard and that we get the care we deserve.

- Vernell Robinson, Community Voices Heard Board Co-Chair and NYCHA resident

The long-term effects of NYCHA’s neglect are deeply disturbing. Neurological damage from lead poisoning will affect children their entire lives. Living long-term with mold or asbestos leaves residents with debilitating respiratory problems. Beyond the physical impacts, jobs can be lost because of the need to continually be home during working hours for repairs.

NYCHA residents pay rent and have the same right to safe and healthy living conditions as tenants in buildings owned by nonprofit or private landlords. As we grapple with an unprecedented public health crisis, healthy homes are more important now than ever. NYCHA needs to be at the center of an equitable recovery from COVID-19, which has hit our NYCHA communities extremely hard. Any recovery program must address the tremendous neglect of NYCHA buildings and prioritize making NYCHA a healthy living environment once again.

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