Ocotber 21, 2015
By Tara Jessup
New York City, NY – On October 14th, the New York City Council, introduced legislation that seeks to bring greater transparency and accountability to the Housing Preservation Department (HPD). This legislation will create an “ombudsman” position within HPD that is responsible for tracking issues with contractors related to wage theft, labor violations, or shoddy construction.
The bill also would refine the language used to describe a responsible contractor to ensure the City does not continue to work with contractors that take advantage of workers.
“In a joint Contracts and Housing and Building Committee hearing this April, construction workers on City-funded projects described experiencing racism and sexual abuse on the job, in addition to wage theft. I am deeply disturbed that the City continues to fund projects using contractors with a history of illegal and abusive treatment towards their own workers. As the Chair of the Committee on Contracts and an advocate of fairness for all, I will continue to be relentless in stopping labor law violations, large and small, before they begin. This bill aims to stop that bad behavior in its tracks and bring more transparency to HPD. I look forward to protecting hardworking employees across this City,” said Contracts Committee Chair Helen Rosenthal, prime sponsor of the bill.
Poor quality construction often lead to leaks, mold, and inferior heating systems, all of which can exacerbate the already high levels of asthma we experience. Oversight in the quality of publicly subsidized construction is an important step in government promoting healthier communities. With hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars committed to building affordable housing, it is absolutely vital that tighter accountable standards be implemented and that contractors and building managers be held to the highest standards. In addition, the men and women who work on building affordable housing must be paid properly and treated with respect and dignity.
“On behalf of the 17,000 members of the Mason Tenders District Council, and all the honest, hard-working men and women of New York City, I want to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito for the leadership she has shown, said Robert Bonanza, Business Manager Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York. “We share her commitment to ensuring that New York City’s affordable housing programs are conducted with respect for the law and workers’ rights. I am confident with the Speaker’s involvement, as well as Councilmember Helen Rosenthal’s support and commitment we can attain those goals.”