The safety of New York City’s children is at risk at the 788 playgrounds overseen by the New York City Housing Authority, according to a new report released by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.
The Housing Authority, which is responsible for providing public housing for New York City’s poorest residents, also manages playground for the children living at the city’s 238 public housing developments. Stringer’s audit found that 70 percent of the playgrounds managed by the Housing Authority have dangerous conditions, including missing and broken equipment and unsatisfactory safety surfaces.
Even worse, the audit turned up evidence that the Housing Authority was reporting incorrect information in required safety reports or failing to file those reports entirely. Many of the safety reports that were filed did not mention pressing safety issues, even at sites where the Comptroller’s office found damage that imminently endangered children.
Perhaps most shockingly, the audit indicated that professional managers at the Housing Authority were unaware how many playgrounds they managed. When initially asked, the Housing Authority submitted a list of just seven playgrounds to the Comptroller’s office. Only after the auditors conducted site inspections did it become clearly that the Housing Authority manages nearly 800 playgrounds.
“This is a very disturbing audit that shows the dangers children face within Nycha developments,” Stringer, the comptroller, told The New York Times. “The dangerous conditions that permeate these developments are simply horrifying.”
In response to the critical audit, the Housing Authority said that it was working to implement the advice of the Comptroller’s office. However, as of Wednesday, it seemed unlikely that much progress had been made because the Housing Authority considered corrective action to be filing a work order, as opposed to actually repairing or replacing damaged equipment.
The Housing Authority, which has been plagued by complaints about horrific housing conditions, is the center of an ongoing dispute between Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who oversees the Housing Authority, and Democratic New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, who has lamented the conditions in its facilities and declared a “state of emergency” in the agency.