Federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged more than 60 current and former employees of the New York City Housing Authority with bribery and extortion, a sweeping indictment of a troubled organization.
The unsealing of the complaints was announced early Tuesday, with additional details on the scope of the investigation to be unveiled by Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, at a late morning news conference.
The employees were charged with “accepting cash payments from contractors in exchange for awarding NYCHA contracts,” a news release said. It added that the more than 60 federal bribery charges amounted to a single-day record for the Department of Justice.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development said in a statement that the defendants were superintendents who had “exploited the trust placed in them by the citizens of New York City.”
Last year, officials at the housing agency estimated that it would need some $78 billion over the next two decades to renovate the aging system, which is home to more than 300,000 New Yorkers in an expensive city starved for affordable apartments.
Complaints about aging buildings, rodents, leaky pipes and broken elevators have dogged the agency, which operates more than 270 developments. Still, demand remains high, with hundreds of thousands of people crowding waiting lists.
In 2022, NYCHA collected just 65 percent of the rent it charged, the lowest percentage in its nearly 100-year history.
Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, has made increasing affordable housing a central goal of his administration, unveiling a plan last year to create as many as 100,000 additional homes by allowing low-slung apartment buildings to sprout from the tops of some single-story buildings outside Manhattan.
At the same time, Gov. Kathy Hochul, another Democrat, has also sought — unsuccessfully thus far — to address the problem, seeking to build hundreds of thousands of homes in the city and statewide, though opposition from suburban lawmakers has been fierce.
The housing crisis has been complicated by the influx of more than 150,000 migrants into the city, which has overwhelmed the city’s shelter system.
This is a developing story and will be updated.