Griselda Herrera, 52, fastened cardboard over the hole in the upper encasement of her living room window last November to stop rainwater from pouring rust and debris from the crumbling ceiling into her home. She painted it teal to match the trim in her apartment, located in the Marble Hill Houses.
Nobody from the New York City Housing Authority told her when construction workers would return to tackle the water leaking in or to repair the cantaloupe-sized hole the dripping caused.
This spring, NYCHA contractors completed a two-year, $15.4 million contract to repair the Marble Hill Houses’ roofs and replace the mortar between the exterior bricks of its 11 buildings. But the Herreras and about 50 other families said nobody waterproofed the bricks outside their homes as NYCHA promised to do when the Marble Hill Houses were federalized in March 2010. Without the external waterproofing, water damage continues to erode away their homes. Fixing the damage was not covered in the contract and residents say the problems will continue until the bricks are repaired.
“Before she put the cardboard up, she would put a towel on the sill. Now it just drizzles,” said Griselda’s daughter Patricia Herrera, 26. “They did the roof. But they didn’t do the bricks. The water comes in. No matter how many times you report it — nothing.”
When NYCHA announced a provision of the federal stimulus package that allowed the bankrupted agency to place 21 city- and state-run developments on a list of federally sponsored housing complexes, the Marble Hill Tenants’ Association greeted the “federalization” warmly. Unlike most of the city’s public housing buildings, Marble Hill and 20 other projects built by the city and the state never received federal money. By 2003, both governments had cut off their financing.
For decades, NYCHA diverted about $1 billion from federally backed complexes to the 21 projects, contributing to the agency’s $150 million deficit and leaving Marble Hill and other communities in disrepair.