After an investigative report was released by government officials earlier this month, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents, local advocates and elected officials are calling for a better screening process for the buildings, which, out of all five boroughs, are most plentiful in Brooklyn—making it the borough with the largest number of sex offenders living in public housing.
“Whether it is mold, faulty temporary boilers, unrepaired apartments, or instances of violence and other criminal activity within the hallways of their developments, NYCHA residents already have enough problems to deal with,” said Councilmember Mark Treyger. “The last thing they need is another reason to worry for their safety and security. NYCHA must act to ensure that dangerous sex offenders are not allowed in NYCHA residences, period.”
According to the report released by State Senator Jeff Klein and Councilmember Ritchie Torres, of the 110 sex offenders who report their residences to the Department of Criminal Justice Services as a NYCHA development, 40 percent of them live in Brooklyn public housing buildings.
Additionally, even with federal law prohibiting these offenders from taking up residence in public housing buildings, statistics show an increase over the past five years.
“The fact that we have sexual predators living in our NYCHA developments causes huge concerns for my colleagues and me,” said State Senator Diane Savino. “It is our job as elected officials to hold agencies like NYCHA accountable for their regulations or lack thereof, especially when it comes to issues concerning the safety of our constituents. It’s time they explain why they have failed to monitor this problem.”
“NYCHA needs to seriously rework the screening process for new residents,” added Assemblymember Pamela Harris. “These individuals are not legally allowed to reside in these developments, and it is NYCHA’s responsibility to make sure that the letter of the law is followed, because residents in NYCHA developments already have enough issues, between mold, broken boilers, broken lights, damaged community centers, and a myriad of other problems. The one place above any other where people need to feel safe is at home, and NYCHA needs to ensure that their apartments comply with all federal, state, and city laws in order to adequately protect their residents.”
The report suggests a two-step plan to address the problem is in order: NYCHA and the NYPD conducting a cross-checking survey with the sex offender registry and having the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development identify any legal NYCHA residents who might be illegally residing with sex offenders (in order to determine if fraud was committed in failing to list them as household members).
“Residents of public housing should have the peace of mind of knowing no registered sex offenders are living in their developments,” said Assemblymember William Colton. “NYCHA must protect its residents by establishing procedures to cross-check the names on the sex offender registry with those residing in public housing developments.”
For the full report, visit www.nysenate.gov/sites/default/files/sex_offenders_in_nycha_full_report.pdf.