New York Lawmakers Embrace New Funding Plan to Rescue Public Housing

For decades, public officials have failed to maintain the more than 170,000 homes that make up NYCHA’s vast network of aging buildings, most of which were built in the 1950s, leaving residents with low incomes living in apartments plagued with lead, mold and crumbling infrastructure.

In more than 40 percent of NYCHA apartments, or about 73,400 homes, residents reported three or more maintenance problems, compared with 8 percent of residents in private apartments, according to a recent city housing survey.

The agency estimates it needs a staggering $40 billion for repairs and renovations.

As New York grows more expensive, and decent, affordable housing becomes harder to come by, NYCHA residents are often trapped in these conditions, said Susan Popkin, a fellow at the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, who has studied public housing.

“There really is nowhere else for low-income people to rent in this city at this point,” she said.

The median monthly rent for NYCHA apartments is about $500, and the median household income is around $18,500 per year, compared with $1,500 and $50,000 citywide. More than 43 percent of NYCHA households have at least one person employed, according to city estimates.

There are more than 250,000 families on a wait-list for a NYCHA apartment, according to the agency.

The issues mirror those in public housing systems across the nation. But with an official population of some 360,000 people living in more than 330 developments — more than the entire populations of Pittsburgh, Orlando or St. Louis — the scale of NYCHA’s problems dwarf those in other cities.

The newly formed corporation would be run by a nine-member board, whose members would include NYCHA’s chief executive, its chief financial officer, a deputy mayor, four NYCHA residents, a member appointed by the housing authority’s chief executive and a member appointed by the mayor to represent NYCHA employees.

The bill calls for up to 25,000 units to be leased to the corporation, and for that number to be reviewed annually, with the possibility of the Legislature authorizing an increase.


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