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New York’s public housing system is the size of a city. It’s failing children.

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Emily A. Benfer is the director of the Health Justice Advocacy Clinic and a professor at Columbia Law School.

The New York City Housing Authority, responsible for 176,000 apartments in 2,418 buildings, is by far the biggest public-housing system in the country. Beset by lead-paint hazards, mold, heating failures and chronic mismanagement, NYCHA buildings are also a danger to the authority’s 400,000 residents — the population of a mid-size American city.

On Jan. 31, New York narrowly avoided a complete federal takeover of NYCHA by agreeing to spend $2.2 billion on a decade-long effort to repair NYCHA’s decrepit buildings and by ceding much management responsibility to a powerful federal monitor. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced the agreement at HUD’s Lower Manhattan offices on the deadline date set by a federal judge who last fall had rejected an earlier agreement as inadequate.

The new agreement is also inadequate. That was made clear Monday with news that interim NYCHA chairman Stanley Brezenoff refused to sign the agreement. The deal unfairly places “all of the financial burden” on the city and not on the federal government, where it belongs, he told the New York Times. The city had announced last week that he was being replaced.

Last summer, NYCHA estimated that $32 billion would be needed over five years to fix its buildings, which are on average more than 60 years old, according to the New York Times. The city could........

© Washington Post