New Report Exposes Dangers Hidden Behind Walls of NYCHA Buildings

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Leaks, Corroded Pipes Cause Mold, Threaten NYCHA Tenant Health - New City Landlord Accountability Law Goes into Effect January 1, 2019

NEW YORK - Dec. 5, 2018 - Rezul -- Just in time for the winter heating season, a new report from the industry that maintains heat, water and waste pipes in commercial and residential buildings shows that New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) tenants should expect significantly more problems with mold, boiler outages, leaks and other issues as building systems continue to deteriorate.

The problem, Steamfitters union officials say, is ongoing systemic failure of piping systems within the buildings that have surpassed their expected lifespan, further leading to widespread toxic mold, apartment floods, peeling lead paint and overall unhealthy living conditions.

"A majority of NYCHA buildings were constructed between 1945 and 1965.  While they were built exceptionally well, the pipes hidden inside the plaster and sheetrock walls and ceilings only had an expected lifespan of about half-a-century," said Patrick Dolan Jr. President of Steamfitters Local 638. "We are now well beyond that useful lifespan and the result is that residents can expect conditions to worsen and become more dangerous in their homes."

He continued, "a building operating system is comparable to the heart, lungs and arteries of a human body.  Upon reaching the age of 55 to 75 – much like veins and arteries leading to a human heart or lungs - the insides of pipes calcify and clog, leading to blockages and ruptures." Steamfitters Local 638 is based in Long Island City, with more than 8,000 members.

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NYCHA is the largest landlord in North America, housing1 in 14 New Yorkers. Its portfolio includes 176,066 apartments in 2,462 buildings and 326 developments, or 8.1% of the City's rental apartments, home to 174,282 families and 396,581 residents.

The report, titled "Modernizing NYCHA For Tenant Health & Environmental Efficiency" points out the dangers that are hidden and unrecognized behind the typical apartment walls and how to fix them.  The union points to case studies of recent modernization projects in Manhattan that pay for themselves in a matter of years through energy efficiency and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

When pipes are used beyond their original life expectancy, they begin to fail, leak, and cause pollution and mold with greater frequency. Despite only a 9% rise in energy consumption by NYCHA over the last decade, energy prices have driven its utility costs up by 64%.

Other landlords that have corrected this issue say a complex-wide pipe replacement project can be carried out without displacing tenants and result in energy savings that pay for the retrofit project in about seven years.

Leaks, Corroded Pipes Cause Mold, Threaten Tenant Health:

Leaks not only physically damage buildings, but breed black mold, which can result in a serious health threat that can impact the respiratory system, similar to black lung.

"I have encountered dangerous mold inside the walls on job sites, and it poses a serious health risk, requiring remediation. Replacing and retrofitting the rotted and failed piping systems hidden inside NYCHA apartment walls is the only real way to take preventive action." said Robert Bartels Jr., Local 638's Business Agent at Large.  "In addition, this replacement work can result in energy use reduction of 15% annually, enabling the upgrades to pay for themselves in just a few short years.

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When pipes fail, or a leak occurs, it can cause water damage that creates an ideal environment for mildew and mold. In more extreme cases, it can disrupt the functionality and efficiency of an entire building.

In March 2018, New York State, along with NYCHA tenants and housing advocates, released a disturbing report, "Break the Mold: Cleaning Up NYCHA's Mess," which found 59% of NYCHA residents have had a problem with mold, and 52% have or had leaking roofs, windows, or pipes that have caused water to leak into their apartment.

A new law that will takes effect on January 1, 2019 (Local Law 55 of 2018 / Indoor Asthma and Allergen Hazards & Pest Management in Residential Dwellings) will hold building owners, engineers, architects, and others involved in building management accountable, requiring them to investigate the property, notify tenants of potential issues, and remove asthma triggers as well as remedy violations for visible mold and pests.

Many tenants and advocates for improvements to the city's public housing inventory want the fixes made.  The Steamfitters say that their past work shows the job can be done efficiently with new piping systems that can add 70 – 100 years of new life for the health of the buildings, their tenants, and the environment. These fixes would also lessen NYCHA's dependence on fuel oil, natural gas and steam, more evenly distributing heat and hot water to apartments.

Contact
Patrick Rheaume
/email-contact.htm#12743570">***@butlerassociates.com


Source: Butler Associates
Filed Under: Real Estate

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