City fails to deliver on window-guard laws in public housing

May 31, 2011 06:48PM

An audit by City Comptroller John Liu’s office has found deficiencies in the city’s window-guard enforcement program, which prevents children falling through open windows, in New York City public housing. Nearly half of the violations examined by the Department of Housing Preservation and Developement in fiscal years 2008 and 2009 were closed despite the department’s failure to verify with tenants that guards had been installed. Some violations were also improperly closed due to data-entry errors.

By law, landlords of buildings with three or more apartments must install window-guards in units housing children younger than 11. Complaints are received and investigated by the Department of Health and violations and forwarded to HPD.

The forwarding of around 1,500 violations between departments has been delayed for months and the Department of Health failed to systematically follow up on violations in the recommended three-day time period.

In separate statements, the departments both noted that reported child falls from windows had been vastly reduced — five last year, citywide, compared with 217 in 1976.

Legislation was recently introduced in City Council that would simplify the implementation of window-guard laws by making HPD solely responsible and cutting the health department out of the process. [NYT]