Details Emerge About Plan for Private Buildings on NYCHA Land
While some agree that the plan has financial merit, others fear the social costs of mixing incomes in NYCHA neighborhoods. The authority's chairman sees it as a win-win.
by Batya Ungar-Sargon
Monday, March 4, 2013
Lower East Side The New York City Housing Authority is in dire financial straits, facing a yearly deficit of about $40 million in operating costs, as well as a $6.6 billion deficit in capital needs, such as repairs to roofs, elevators, heating and grounds. While residents pay 30 percent of their wages towards rent, the bulk of NYCHA's funding comes from the government, which has radically scaled back its support of public housing: In 2001, capital funding was around $420 million, and 99 percent of NYCHA's operating costs, but in 2011, it was down to only $270 million, and only 89 percent. "That's a 35 percent decrease," NYCHA Chairman John Rhea says emphatically. "Over the last 10 years, they have paid 90 cents on the dollar."
"The government has broken its contract," he continues. "Residents are keeping up their end and paying rent, but the federal government is telegraphing that the cavalry's not coming. All signs point to disinvestment. We are faced with a choice: we can walk away, or we can find creative solutions."
One potential solution has been in the works for over a year now. Since December 2011, NYCHA has signaled it wants to lease some of its "under-used" land to private developers. In Plan NYCHA, the strategic vision the authority published around that time, NYCHA listed 10 priorities. The second was to "explore options for building mixed-income and market-rate housing, and for monetizing land and development rights to fund existing NYCHA capital needs."