The Real Deal New York

NYCHA managers ran Bronx complex “like a jail”: report

The investigation found “a culture of misconduct”
January 23, 2019 10:30AM

Throggs Neck Houses at 680 Balcom Avenue in the Bronx (Credit: Picssr)

An investigation into the city’s troubled housing agency found a culture of misconduct and employee mistreatment at one Bronx complex.

Managers routinely retaliated against subordinates, rigged contracts and destroyed appliances meant for residents at Throggs Neck Houses, the New York Times reported, citing the findings from the city’s Department of Investigation. They also clocked overtime without working extra hours and held on-site parties.

The investigation followed allegations made about the workers at the a 29-building complex that is home to more than 2,500 low-income New Yorkers. When the entire 40-person staff at the development was reassigned in August, resident leaders claimed workers had been engaging in alcohol-fueled sex parties on the job. While the claims of sex parties weren’t proven, the city’s month-long investigation revealed “a culture of misconduct, employee mistreatment and favoritism.”

Two managers, Brianne Pawson and Wallace Vereen, bullied and threatened employees, the report said. At one point, Vereen, who became the development’s manager in 2017, was said to have claimed he ran the complex “like a jail.”

The two were found to have given better work assignments to workers they favored while retaliating against others. They were also involved in sexual relationships with several of their subordinates and “improperly favored their paramours in work-related decisions,” the report said.

Pawson would also regularly send a worker to buy alcohol to hold parties at one of the development’s offices. Employees told investigators that Pawson frequently walked around the development with a plastic cup filled with alcohol and Red Bull.

The report comes as NYCHA has already been under fire. In December, a federal judge approved a plan that will help NYCHA address toxic mold issues in public housing, though she rejected the agency’s broader plan for reform. Ben Carson, head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, has said a federal takeover is still on the table. [NYT] — Meenal Vamburkar