More than 100 witnesses are expected to testify at an extraordinary court hearing Wednesday on whether a judge should approve NYCHA’s ground-breaking agreement with prosecutors to bring in an independent monitor.
The day-long hearing in Manhattan federal court concerns the June consent decree with Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman signed by the Housing Authority and Mayor de Blasio.
Manhattan Federal Judge William Pauley, who must approve the agreement, has expressed skepticism about the deal, worrying that it doesn’t give overseers a way to hold NYCHA accountable.
The feds are urging Pauley to sign off as soon as possible, noting that since the day the decree was signed in early June, NYCHA has continued to fall short in its promises to provide its 400,000 tenants with habitable apartments.
But tenant leaders known as the Citywide Council of Presidents object to the deal as written, charging that it doesn’t allow for adequate tenant participation in the selection of the monitor. Lawyers for the council are set to testify during the hearing.
The witnesses will include dozens of public housing tenants recounting the squalid conditions they endure daily as NYCHA continues to fail to address lead paint and toxic mold, fix busted elevators and keep buildings safe.
NYCHA agreed to sign the consent decree after prosecutors filed a damning complaint detailing years of lies and cover-ups about decrepit conditions in public housing.
U.S. Attorney Berman is collecting applications from candidates to become a monitor who will make sure NYCHA managers stay in compliance with all local, state and federal laws and regulations about keeping apartment conditions up to par.