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HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge Tours NYCHA Buildings, Addresses Complaints: 'What I Heard Today Is Not Acceptable'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Chronic mismanagement of antiquated buildings, combined with mold, lead and other problems, have plagued public housing for years.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge toured New York City Housing Authority buildings.

CBS2's Lisa Rozner asked the secretary how she plans to make changes.

A fan kept running to dry out incessant leaking just one room over from where Fudge met with NYCHA leaders and residents at the Patterson Houses Community Center in the Bronx.

"This project was built in 1950, so they keep painting over what's on the walls and not doing anything about it," said James Oliver, a resident at NYCHA's Morris Houses.

More than 350,000 residents live in NYCHA buildings across the city. One resident who didn't want to give her name showed Rozner mold taking over her bathroom. She said her 15-year-old son has asthma.

"A lot of work orders and why do they put no tickets in?" the resident said. "They're not doing the work."

"What do you tell residents who put in multiple service requests for mold in their bathroom and they get closed and nothing gets done?" Rozner asked Secretary Fudge.

"HUD actually doesn't run public housing, but we do ... we're partners. So I'm going to be talking to our partners, to talk to them about what is acceptable and what is not. And what I heard today is not acceptable," Fudge said.

The secretary added that if the Build Back Better Plan passes Congress it could bring billions of dollars to public housing, including NYCHA.

NYCHA CEO Gregory Russ said, in the meantime, changes to management and operations are coming.

"What's preventing the agency from completing service requests in a timely manner?" Rozner asked.

"Multiple problems. They range from, for example, you might have a gas leak. Gas leak shuts off the riser. The riser has asbestos. Asbestos has to be treated first. Then bring a plumber in. You have sequencing that becomes more difficult as the building gets older," Russ said.

Residents said they told Secretary Fudge they want more of a voice, among other issues. They're giving her a few months to get back to them.

"What she told us is her success is based on what she gets accomplished," said Barbara Williams, tenant leader at the Polo Ground Houses.

"It's a big start. A lot of residents feel like a lot of people NYCHA brings in are from outside," added Danny Barber, chairman of the NYCHA Citywide Council of Presidents.

Fudge told the tenants the agency has more resources now and incremental changes are happening every day.

Fudge is hoping $55 billion to $60 billion will be set aside in Congress just for public housing.

The city has asked for $40 billion just for NYCHA.

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