To the Editor:
The Facade Inspection and Safety Program (FISP) was first enacted in New York City in 1980 under Local Law 10 (then Local Law 11 in 1998) in response to the tragic death of a pedestrian who was struck and killed by a piece of falling brick from a building in Manhattan. The objective of the law is to ensure public safety from bricks and other masonry falling off buildings by requiring all buildings taller than six stories be inspected by a professional engineer or an architect every five years, and then repair and restore any problem areas found in a timely manner.
FISP is the reason NYC is encased in miles and miles of street sheds. My building included.
While the law was passed with good intentions, it is resulting in an enormous financial burden on cooperative apartments. Every five-year cycle brings with it new requirements and areas to be inspected and repaired. The cost of complying with FISP can reach millions of dollars, placing an undue burden on co-op shareholders, many of whom are older adults and young families already struggling to make ends meet.
The result of this financial burden is that many cooperatives are depleting their reserve accounts every five years and therefore must delay necessary repairs or forgo them altogether, creating dangerous situations for building residents. Boilers are pushed beyond their life, leaky roofs go unfixed, interiors start to look shabby, and buildings start to cut back on vital staffing.
In recent years, many co-op buildings in Riverdale and the surrounding neighborhoods have been forced to implement incredibly steep maintenance fee increases to keep up with increased insurance costs, fuel, inflation, and on top of this, they are implementing large assessments to pay for FISP or long overdue capital improvements. Many families and older adults who thought they had an affordable solution to NYC living are finding themselves unable to afford the maintenance and assessments on their apartments.
The challenge is clear: How will co-ops survive this recurring cycle of financial depletion and deferred maintenance? Lawmakers must recognize the urgency of this issue and act to find a balanced solution that ensures the safety of pedestrians without jeopardizing the financial stability of cooperative apartments.
The survival of co-ops depends on it — a survival crucial not only for the buildings themselves but for the vibrant communities they house.
Co-op Board President,
81st Assembly District Leader