It's all smiles during the Stepping Into Music class at the Jacob Riis Child Care Center. But the people who run this pre-kindergarten program say these are hardly good times.
"We're part of this huge system that clearly needs repair," said Yvette Ho, education director at CPC Jacob Riis.
The nonprofit Chinese American Planning Council operates the center, but it is located in the Jacob Riis Houses, a public housing development, and that means NYCHA, the city's housing authority, is the landlord.
Workers there say they are wrestling with a series of recurring problems, including leaks in the ceilings, heating outages, bursting pipes and an exposed garbage compactor in a hallway.
"Anytime anyone in an upstairs apartment has a water problem, whether it be a toilet problem, a bathtub problem, washing machines in the apartment, if there is an issue and it's unaddressed, it ends up down here," Ho said.
The directors say NYCHA is often slow to make repairs, if they are made at all. Yet inspectors with the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have been holding the center responsible for the leaks and other violations, fining the facility thousands of dollars, money that the center just doesn't have. The directors say they sometimes have to close for a day or two to fix the problems themselves.
"The city gives us funding to provide quality services, and we can't provide it because of the facility issues, constant issues that we're having," said Mary Cheng, director of childhood development at CPC Jacob Riis.
NY1 reached out to NYCHA for comment. The agency says, "Staff confirmed there are no leaks at this time, but did recently perform preventative maintenance at the center. We will continue to monitor."
The center says it is not allowed to use city funding to pay for the fines, so they have had to fundraise to cover the cost, money that they say could be put to better use helping the children here.