After Sandy: NYCHA Chairman Rhea

Monday, November 12, 2012

A public housing complex in Red Hook, Brooklyn, that lost power during Sandy. A federal grant would provide back-up generators for complexes like the Red Hook Houses, above, that lost power during Sandy. (Shelley Bernstein/flickr)

John Rhea, NYCHA Chairman, talks about recovery efforts for the thousands of public housing units still without hot water, power or heat.


John Rhea

Comments [14]

The volunteer effort is wonderful. Occupy has really stepped up. But why does it seem like the city is relying on relatively untrained citizens to take on the brunt of the outreach in the hardest hit areas? Where are the paid professionals in Haz-Mat suits? We can't expect volunteers to endangers themselves by working in demolition and mold abatement without proper training and equipment!

Nov. 15 2012 09:18 AM
ellen from NYC

There are NYCHA houses in Manhattan that are located one block from a Zone A area that flooded. Although it stopped literally just short of the houses, it did flood their parking lot. That Zone A area flooding knocked out traffic lights on First Ave and power in buildings (mine among them) and is exactly where the Mayor plans to begin construction of the huge garbage transfer station, at one of the lowest lying areas along the FDR Drive, between 96th St and 90th St. Didn't anyone look at the flood zone map?

Nov. 12 2012 11:44 AM
Timothy Briner from Brooklyn, NY

I second Eric. I've been on the ground in Coney Island documenting the recovery and aftermath for the last 10 out of 14 days. I poke to the National Guard on Saturday, the first day they were deployed to go door-to-door. Private Cuccia stated they had an estimated 100-200 soldiers going door to door in the hardest hit areas in Coney. They started at the Warbasse Houses, which all have power. Not to say they don't need help, but they must have thousands of doors to knock on and there is no way they are getting to the hardest hit areas first. Was at the NYCHA O'dwyer buildings last night, and only 2 of the 5-6 houses had power. I was also at the Sam Burt houses, who have only partial power in some apartments, and nobody there has running water. Occupy Sandy and other grass roots orgs are the only ones out there giving any real help to the ones who are still struggling in the dark and cold. How is that possible!?

Nov. 12 2012 11:27 AM

Eric Moed from Brooklyn, NY ~

Thanks very much for your very vivd note. It illustrates how dire the circumstance is.

Thanks even more for your VERY generous efforts, this world need more people like you!

Nov. 12 2012 11:11 AM
Bernadette Puleo from Dix Hills, Long Island

We don't have power yet. We live with my father-in-law in the house he has lived in since 1964. He is almost 91 years old. He has always paid his bills on time. Never complained when the rates were raised. Where is LIPA now? I can't seem to get a straight answer from them. We have a tree down on the lines on our property so we can't do anything until LIPA frees up the wires. LIPA - 21st Century utility rates- 20th Century technology=Long Island Powerless Authority.

Nov. 12 2012 11:06 AM
fuva from harlemworld

This guy is "thinking" a lot about the plight of public housing residents, instead of "knowing". NYCHA may not be trustworthy with adequately researching and reporting what's really happening. It needs to be monitored and held accountable.

ALSO, this "rent credit" needs to factor in the ripple effects of lack of heat/electricity/hot water.

AND their needs to be some accommodation for residents whose ability to pay rent NOW (before any credit is implemented) has been inhibited by Sandy.

Nov. 12 2012 10:47 AM
Eric Moed from Brooklyn, NY

I have been out in the Coney Island Housing Complexes for a week now. Seven 18 +/- hour work days with NO FEMA, NO Red Cross, No NYCHA, No NYC representatives.

There are ZERO agencies out in the Coney Island Housing Complexes nor in the surrounding private homes. I have personally been in The Coney Island Houses, Odwire Gardens Housing and Surfside Housing. NO FEMA, NO RED CROSS, NO NYC HOUSING, NO AUTHORITIES WHATSOEVER. The FEMA tent is a 20 minute walk away. The Red Cross has BARELY been there [they sometimes send one truck for 15-20 buildings once or twice a day]. The only presence of bigger foundations/organizations is in the 'sexier' part of Coney Island, near the Cyclone, Nathans Famous and the Boardwalk- a 20+ minute walk from the NYCHA Housing Complexes.
Within the buildings there are:

There are elderly people stuck on the top floors in pitch-black conditions with NO FOOD AND WATER. Families with no food to feed their children. Mothers with no baby formula or wipes. Diabetics and asthmatics with no medicine. THERE HAS BEEN NO POWER, HEAT OR WATER FOR TWO WEEKS. Next to no one has flashlights and/or batteries. The People's Relief volunteers PERSONALLY canvas and scout as many buildings as we can, logging specific information such as the status of the power, water, heat, food & water needs. We personally give goods to the above people in need and encourage them with what little energy we have. Everyday we see these tragic issues first hand.
People's Relief is a group of citizens who saw a huge need and filled it. We are not 'Occupy Sandy' but have been consistently working directly with them- using their amazing and organized resources. More importantly People's Relief works DIRECTLY with the Presidents of the Coney Island Houses and the Odwire Houses. We use the community rooms in multiple buildings as relief sites- distribution for all necessities like food, water, batteries, baby supplies, feminine products ect. We expect to do this in more buildings.
All of the supermarkets and bodegas within a 15 minute walk of the above Housing have been flooded or looted. THERE IS NOWHERE NEAR THEM TO BUY FOOD.
We've seen the most traumatic things you can imagine: Children sleeping on filthy flood-damaged floors. Resident's heating their homes using their stoves and poisoning themselves. Elderly people with no one to talk to living alone on an entire floor: nowhere to even defecate, let alone eat.
The staten Island Borough President said shortly after the storm: "The government is there to do for people what they cannot do for themselves." We pay our taxes- so WHERE ARE THEY?

Lastly, to state the severity of the absolute oversight of these tens-of-thousands of residents: An elderly woman said to me the other day- "Help! Are you from the Red Cross?"

I responded: "No, I'm from New York."

Nov. 12 2012 10:47 AM
Nick from UWS

How many times have people been advised to have a battery operated radio and flashlights in their home, since 9/11? A hundred? A thousand? A million? A billion? At some point there is just no remedy for stupidity and lack of personal responsibility.

Nov. 12 2012 10:43 AM
Nick from UWS

It's obvious from Rhea's responses that public officials are hired on how skillfully they can avoid giving a direct answer to a direct question. Every word out of his mouth reduces confidence in his agency.

Nov. 12 2012 10:41 AM

Where's the FORETHOUGHT?!!?

Wasn't that in the job description??

Nov. 12 2012 10:41 AM
scott from soho

Please ask chairman Rhea how much it costs the city to manage a typical 2 bedroom unit in one of the housing units on an annual basis? How does that amount compare with a privately managed apartment buildings of the same size?

Nov. 12 2012 10:40 AM

Vertical Katrina.

Nov. 12 2012 10:39 AM

Con Ed and NYCHA = Recipe for DISASTER!!


Nov. 12 2012 10:38 AM
Jf from Ny

Solar power for all public housing! rebates for everyone else! Wind turbines!

Nov. 12 2012 10:15 AM

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