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NY City housing projects' garbage has the answers.

How many people really live in the city's public housing? The answer is in the trash.

The true population served by the New York City Housing Authority has always been hard to pin down because the customary tally of more than 620,000 people overlooks multitudes that have been welcomed into legal residents' units but aren't named on a lease or otherwise listed in authority records.

But indisputable evidence of their existence is collected each week by the city's Department of Sanitation. In trucks.

The waste-collection data suggest the Housing Authority's actual ranks are at least 100,000 larger than the official number.

Last Friday, NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye was speaking at an annual summit hosted by the Municipal Art Society when she mentioned Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and the informal, rubbish-based census.

"She can tell [our population] based on our tonnage," Olatoye said.

Specifically, the authority estimates that the city's Strongest collect 380 million pounds of refuse each year from NYCHA developments. If the average New Yorker each piles 756 pounds of trash into garbage trucks annually, as data from the latest Mayor's Management Report indicates, then accordingly about 502,600 people are living in NYCHA projects.

Add in the roughly 220,000 people who receive rental assistance from NYCHA to live in privately-run housing, and the total reaches 722,600 residents. However, because the amount of garbage collected from the latter group is unknown, the sum could be even higher.

Olatoye initially said at the summit that NYCHA's garbage equated to a 1 million population figure, but a spokeswoman later clarified that the chair misspoke, and the real figure was in line with data gleaned from sanitation records.

Garbage collectors will notice a difference, too. As part of the NextGeneration NYCHA initiative, by the end of 2016 the authority will roll out recycling at all of its 328 developments, something the rest of the city was required to do beginning in 1989 during the Koch administration.

Source: Joe Anuta, Crain's New York Business

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Publication:Solid Waste Report
Date:Nov 2, 2015
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