Underinvesting in Infrastructure

As a country, our Government is defensive vs offensive regarding most things. Insurance companies appear to be more interested in fixing illnesses than being proactive before the illnesses roost. I can’t imagine that the numbers make sense, but that is how insurance operates, and it always has.

We also love the future and are happy to erase the past. Because public education is state-run, each state has a different curriculum. One state might be aware of the horrifying Japanese relocation camps during WW2. In contrast, others never have any Black history in their curriculum, telling the real injustices that have happened and continue to happen.

Over the years, I have seen how the Government has failed so many. Is it just how capitalism works? Is it Federal disinvestment? Or is it a systemic failure by the people running agencies? Who is to blame?

NYCHA is an organization with 13,000 employees. HUDD is responsible for 1/3 of the costs, the state is responsible for 1/3, and the tenant rents cover the other 1/3. Two weeks ago, 70 NYCHA employees were arrested on bribery and extortion charges. Was anybody shocked? This organization oversees people’s housing and needs almost $80 billion to fully restore and renovate all the buildings, proving that NYCHA has been underfunded for decades, so it is not shocking that corruption is taking place.

Although very different, Puerto Rico was finally given capital to rebuild after getting hammered by storms. The first thing that probably popped into anybody’s head after hearing that is how much corruption we think there will be and how much will go into rebuilding.

All of this is decades of underinvestment coming home. The worst part is these are people’s homes. People who live in NYCHA are the backbone of our cities. 17% of NYers live in public housing, which equals hundreds of thousands of people, bigger than Atlanta or Boston.

I am all for foreign investment, but investing at home impacts everything else. Unclear what will happen next at NYCHA, but it would be worth bringing in a separate agency to do a full-on audit to understand the need for 13,000 employees, to look at every single contract to see if the price is competitive and if that work is actually getting done inside the buildings as it is supposed to. Does it make sense that NYCHA is overseen by one group? Should there be divisions by borough and then one group over that?

So many questions should be asked, yet NYCHA woes might be budget-related, but the system is broken, and all sides are accountable, mainly for how NYCHA is expected to be managed. The saying is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” NYCHA is seriously broken, and it is time to take a look from the bottom up with investment from the Government while rethinking how NYCHA should be managed. Getting HUDD out of it would be a first step in the right direction.

Obviously, I am looking at my own backyard. I would assume that the same could be said in every state with public housing. The same goes for any infrastructure that our country has ignored for years. If you buy a house and do not maintain it, one day, the roof implodes. It doesn’t take much to understand how the lack of capital from the Government has created the problems that exist today.