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NYC To Pay $1B To Fix Public Housing: Report

Campos Plaza, a public housing building in New York City, as of September 2017

Federal prosecutors are reportedly ordering New York City to pay $1B over the next four years to fix the city’s ailing public housing buildings.

A consent decree mandating the repairs will be signed in the coming days and a monitor appointed by the federal government will be overseeing the improvements, Politico reports. It is possible the costs will balloon in the coming years beyond the $1B the city is ordered to pay.

In 2015, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York began looking at the New York City Housing Authority's buildings. It found that the authority had neglected lead paint in apartments and failed to fix broken boilers, leaving residents  without heating in one of the coldest winters on record.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has been weighing signing the decree for a few days, according to Politico. If he does sign it, NYCHA, which runs 2,417 buildings in 325 developments, will become his responsibility, rather that of the federal government.

Public housing advocates have in the past described the housing system as at a “crisis point." Reports earlier this year pegged the cost of the required repairs at $25B

The agency is mainly funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD Secretary Ben Carson has faced criticism for reportedly suggesting tripling the minimum rent payment for residents of public housing projects from $50/month to $150/month, or increasing federally subsidized housing rents from 30% of a resident's adjusted income to 35% of gross income.

City Council member Ritchie Torres said the increased funding for the authority should not be dictated by the U.S. attorney.

"If NYCHA is legally independent of the city and if public housing is legally a federal program, on what basis can the U.S. Attorney compel the city to bear the cost of a consent decree on public housing?" he wrote First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan last week, according to the publication.