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Mayor De Blasio Announces NYCHA Plan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday a public-private partnership that he says will bring repairs to 62,000 NYCHA apartments.

The plan would address nearly $13 billion in repairs for the New York City Housing Authority.

The developers would build apartments on NYCHA-owned land to generate income for the agency.

"This is a turning point for tens of thousands of NYCHA residents. We have an opportunity to undo decades of neglect and mismanagement, and we have to take it," said de Blasio. "These partnerships are one of our best-proven tools to deliver critical repairs. We look forward to working with officials, residents and advocates on this and other new strategies to make a concrete difference for the 400,000 people who call NYCHA home."

Bronx City Councilman Ritchie Torres said he likes the idea.

"It's a win for NYCHA. It's a win for the city. It's a win for tenants. It's a win for everyone. It has the potential to bring billions of dollars in long-overdue repairs and improvements to public housing," Torres said.

A New York Times investigation revealed that from 2010 through last July, NYCHA challenged 95 percent of the orders it received from the health department to remove lead paint. The result? The health department backed down and didn't demand lead removal in 158 of 211 cases, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.

"I'm appalled by it. The highest obligation that we have as public servants is public safety and here you had a housing authority that was cavalier with the safety and health of children who were at risk of lead poisoning in public housing, who were more concerned with challenging lead-testing results than actually solving the problem," Torres said.

NYCHA Lead Paint
Lead paint inside a NYCHA building. (Photo: CBS2)

Back in June, the federal government forced NYCHA to spend billions of dollars to settle claims it "engaged in a culture of false statements and concealments" to hide problems from inspectors and secure housing subsidies, particularly when it came to lead paint exposure.

The city agreed to pay $1 billion over four years and an additional $200 million annually for the following six years. The deal also called for a monitor to oversee the agency during the 10-year span of the agreement.

MORE: NYCHA Gets Earful After Heat Fails At Mott Haven Houses

Last week, a judge rejected the deal.

"This court does not reject the Proposed Consent Decree lightly. The rejection of this decree will likely delay sorely needed relief for NYCHA tenants while the parties decide whether to renegotiate, seek administrative remedies, litigate, or appeal," Judge William H. Pauley wrote. "But, as it stands, the proposed decree suffers from fatal procedural flaws, including its formless injunctive relief and enforcement mechanisms."

"Any judicial decree entered in this action will have a direct, tangible, and longlasting impact not only on the parties, but most importantly on NYCHA's tenants. Because the Proposed Consent Decree is not fair and reasonable, and because its entry would disserve the public interest, the government's motion for approval is denied," he continued.

In an interview with CBS2's Kramer, NYCHA President and CEO Stanley Brezenoff said the struggling agency is strapped for cash and will have to "triage" repairs.

"I imagine we would be hard pressed to do more than 20 percent of the bathrooms and kitchens. Hard pressed," he said. "We simply do not have in hand all the resources that would be necessary to deal with that. In an ideal world, we would have hundreds of millions of dollars more."

Community leaders and tech developers have proposed using a CompStat system to help track repairs and maximize efficiency.

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