Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
What happens when no one comes to fix the broken toilet. Ever.
The Grant Houses in Harlem top the list, although many developments managed by the New York City Housing Authority have repair request backlogs stretching into the thousands. At Grant, there have been complaints about broken windows, damaged floors and faulty plumbing that date back to June of 2009. According to the city's records, obtained by Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, that means some of the low-income families living in these buildings have been waiting 1,333 days for a repair.
All told, as of February, residents of the Grant Houses were waiting on 6,203 repair requests, with the average one outstanding for 344 days.
The NYCHA released the data on the massively embarrassing backlog at its 349 developments in May in response to a public records request by de Blasio. And now his office has plotted them on a website, the NYCHA Watchlist, which appears to be trying to prod the agency with some old-fashioned shame.
The full backlog revealed that thousands of air conditioners were awaiting repairs despite the summer heat. Hundreds of doors that should be locked for security were broken, and smoke detectors in need of repair were sitting on hold for an average 236 days. Broken sprinklers were almost as bad: that average wait was running 224 days.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised back in January to clear the backlog by investing in 300 new workers to fix things. And more recently, residents have even tried to sue to move the process along. But long waits are nothing new to life under the city's housing authority, which manages the homes of more than 400,000 people in the city. The wait list just to get into one of these crumbling homes is even more ridiculous.
Top image of the Grant Houses: The Fixers/Wikimedia Commons