Opinion

A plan to save NYCHA

Congress recently passed a budget deal that will decide how $80 billion will be allocated for federal priorities in the next two years. If Congress acts now, a crucial and cost-neutral program will help save public housing, and by extension, the New York City Housing Authority.

NYCHA is home to more than 400,000 New Yorkers, a population equal to the entire city of Atlanta. The families who depend on this vital housing earn, on average, about $23,000 per year. In a city with soaring rents, and where a new luxury building pops up seemingly every week, the housing authority offers low-income and working families in New York an affordable place to live.

However, decades of underfunding have left public housing properties across the country in disrepair, with a $26 billion backlog in needed improvements. NYCHA alone accounts for two-thirds of this capital backlog, while making up only 13 percent of the nation’s public housing stock. Its residents deserve a decent place to live, free of mold, with good indoor air quality, basic amenities like working toilets and stoves, and safety features to ensure children are protected.

It is overwhelmingly clear that we cannot rely solely on public funding to solve this problem. As the public housing stock continues to age, Congress has consistently cut funding. Since 2001, NYCHA has lost over $1 billion in federal capital investment. We are already losing public housing units to decay at an alarming rate, and without the ability to take advantage of innovative solutions, we could lose public housing altogether.

In 2011, former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, a native New Yorker, developed a solution that is already shaping the future of public housing funding - the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, one of the only options we have to preserve our at-risk public housing stock.

This initiative changes the way public housing is funded to a different federal source called Section 8 project-based funding. Section 8 is more stable, predictable and flexible than traditional public housing financing, and funding for this program, unlike capital investment in NYCHA, has actually increased over the last decade. Additionally, it allows public housing authorities to attract other proven, efficient federal financing tools like the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, which in turn leverages private capital, including private debt.

The Rental Assistance Demonstration program brings in $19 in additional public and private funds for every $1 invested by HUD. The program has already spurred $1 billion for capital repairs, bringing physical improvements and long-term financial stability to more than 18,000 homes for low-income families throughout the country. Without this initiative, we risk losing NYCHA to disrepair.

Despite the benefits of Rental Assistance Demonstration and the risk of doing nothing, for some the program is controversial. Bringing in private investment inevitably raises questions about tenant rights and protections. The Rental Assistance Demonstration program provides tenant protections and ensures that residents can remain in their homes, apartments are permanently affordable and that the housing authority retains control. The program is a means of preserving and improving housing opportunities for public housing residents, not taking anything away from them.

NYCHA is currently piloting the demonstration program in 1,400 apartments across 24 buildings at Ocean Bay in the Rockaways. The 54-year-old property is in need of $161 million worth of repairs, and the program will help finance the improvements to make these homes safe and livable. But to truly address our public housing financing needs, this pilot should be even more robust.

At present, Congress has a cap on the number of public housing apartments that can enter the Rental Assistance Demonstration program. Lifting or eliminating the limit on the number of apartments that can be converted under the program will allow more at-risk properties in New York and around the country to take advantage of this critical tool.

Congress must act now. Without solutions like Rental Assistance Demonstration that bring much needed capital dollars, NYCHA will struggle to stay afloat.

Ritchie Torres is a member of the New York City Council, representing District 15 in the Central Bronx and Chair of the Council’s Committee on Public Housing. Judi Kende is vice president and New York market leader for Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., a national organization that creates, preserves and advocates for affordable housing.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.