Comptroller’s Audit Reveals Unsatisfactory Conditions In NYCHA Playgrounds

Broken Spiral Slide. Image credit: City of New York Office of the Comptroller.

549 NYCHA-owned playgrounds have hazardous conditions and lack of repair and maintenance records. On April 4, 2018, Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released an audit of New York City Housing Authority playgrounds’ conditions and maintenance. NYCHA is responsible for the maintenance of each development’s playgrounds. Results from playground inspections are required to be entered into NYCHA’s electronic system for tracking maintenance and physical repair work. However, the Comptroller’s audit shows that NYCHA failed to consistently maintain playgrounds.

According to the audit, 70 percent of NYCHA playgrounds (549 playgrounds) were kept in unsatisfactory and neglected conditions. The playgrounds presented hazardous conditions such as missing and broken play equipment. Seventy-two playgrounds had visibly hazardous conditions such as exposed jagged edges and loose and damaged safety surfaces. Some of the dangerous conditions include a broken spiral climber with sharp edges at the Riis Houses in Manhattan and broken metal slides with sharp edges at the Jackson Houses in the Bronx.

Jagged edge on slide. Image credit: City of New York Office of the Comptroller.

The Comptroller’s audit also found that NYCHA has inadequate control over its inspection process, and therefore, it cannot ensure that every development’s playgrounds are inspected monthly or that necessary maintenance and repairs are performed. According to NYCHA’s grounds keeping policy, NYCHA senior management staff have to keep monthly inspection reports of the playgrounds and record report findings on their electronic reporting system. However, the audit findings show that NYCHA has not been adhering to this policy. Monthly inspections were not recorded on NYCHA’s electronic reporting system and half of the developments with hazardous playground conditions had not prepared or retained monthly inspection reports. The developments that kept inspection reports did not adequately report the deteriorating playground conditions found in the audit. Available reports also did not have the required signatures of the NYCHA staff member who performed the inspection or the Superintendent or Housing Manager.

In response to the findings, Comptroller Stringer stated that NYCHA’s failure to maintain and repair playgrounds “put children in jeopardy.” He further stated that he is conducting this audit to ensure that children who reside in NYCHA housing have a safer space to play and encourage their growth.

Exposed sharp edge can cause injuries. Image credit: City of New York Office of the Comptroller.

The Comptroller’s office made recommendations in response to the audit’s findings that address the maintenance, repair, and reporting of NYCHA playgrounds. The recommendations provide that NYCHA should inspect all NYCHA-controlled playgrounds and remedy all reported hazardous conditions. NYCHA should also make every playground fully operational as quickly as possible, within a reasonable time frame. The recommendations also provide that NYCHA should implement an effective management oversight scheme to ensure monthly inspections are done in accordance with NYCHA policy. NYCHA should also ensure that its senior management makes sure that reporting is also done through their electronic system.

In response, NYCHA agreed to all the Comptroller’s recommendations except the recommendation to ensure that development-based Housing Managers and Superintendents conduct and document the result of inspections to confirm the accuracy of the findings contained in routinely filed inspection reports.

After the release of the audit, NYCHA stated that it has since “taken steps since the initial audit findings to address the hazardous conditions found at its playgrounds.”

Click here to read the Comptroller’s Press Release, here for the Comptroller’s audit, and here for the audit’s executive summary.


By: May Vutrapongvatana (May is a CityLaw Intern and a New York Law School Student, Class of 2019.)


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.