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South Jamaica Houses Gives Thanks for Record Maintenance Repairs


(Photo by Pete Mikoleski)

Work Order Task Force Completes Nearly 3,000 Work Tickets

Chairman John B. Rhea and members of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) executive staff joined with South Jamaica Houses Resident Association members, elected officials, and 16 members of a specially-assembled task force of skilled trades specialists to celebrate the completion of all outstanding maintenance and repair requests at South Jamaica Houses. Nearly 3,000 work orders in 737 apartments were completed at the Queens development since last June, making it the first development citywide to address the entire backlog of maintenance and repair issues thanks to the Work Order Task Force (WOTF).

“We have a lot to be thankful for,” said South Jamaica Houses Resident Association President Marlene Reed, while tables with food were being readied at the Nov. 18 breakfast celebration. “Some residents were waiting for repairs scheduled for 2013,” Ms. Reed noted, “but when the task force arrived, they got all the jobs done and were polite and courteous.”

NYCHA Deputy General Manager for Operations Carlos Laboy-Diaz (center) surveys conditions at South Jamaica Houses. (Photo by Pete Mikoleski)

The primary goal of the WOTF pilot program is to reduce the maintenance and repair backlog at developments with the highest number of work orders per apartment. Comprised of maintenance workers, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, plasterers and painters WOTF teams work sequentially to complete all apartment repairs without the need for follow-up appointments. In addition to expediting long-awaited repairs, this comprehensive approach minimizes disruption to the residents.

“In spite of our budgetary constraints, we have a responsibility to work smarter and better with what resources we do have,” said Chairman Rhea. “The Work Order Task Force working throughout the city is our commitment to our residents to continue seeking solutions to enhance their quality of life.”

The combination of skilled trades staff working together also helped to enhance the work experience for employees. “Working in a task force, we motivated and challenged each other to do more,” said Painter, Kenneth Case. “With different trades working together, we became more aware of all the work necessary to get the whole job done.”

Acknowledging the challenge that NYCHA faces in maintaining its portfolio of aging public housing units with sharply reduced federal funding, Chairman Rhea remarked, “There is still one-half billion dollars of unmet needs for repairs inside NYCHA apartments, not including external work on buildings. Public housing needs partnerships with elected officials in the City Council, Albany and Washington to survive. Their presence here today shows that they understand the importance of their role.”

State Senate Member Shirley L. Huntley, a former resident at South Jamaica Houses whom Chairman Rhea termed “a tireless advocate” for public housing, thanked NYCHA staff and residents for the work they had done. “We will continue to do much more here,” she promised.

Assembly Member Vivian E. Cook, who sits on the Housing Committee in Albany, was also present to thank staff for their efforts which have made a significant difference in the lives of residents.

A representative for New York City Council Member Reuben Wills, who was born and raised in South Jamaica Houses, noted that “The 3,000 repairs completed here is a milestone not the end; the work continues.”

The work of the Task Force is indeed continuing and expanding to meet greater demand. The innovative program began with just five developments and has since expanded to eleven more developments in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. To date, five task force teams that continue to work citywide have completed over 23,300 work orders in 6,488 apartment units.

By Howard Silver
November 18, 2011