NYCHA repairs a doorway to privatization?

Cyril Josh Barker | 11/21/2018, 11:54 a.m.
The New York City Housing Authority just got another leg up on the road for the $32 billion needed for ...
New York Public Housing

The New York City Housing Authority just got another leg up on the road for the $32 billion needed for repairs.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan Monday that would repair up to 62,000 apartments in public housing. The apartments will be converted to Section 8 funding and remain permanently affordable.

The 140,000 residents living in the apartments will not see a rent increase and maintain their status as public housing residents. Rent will be no more than 30 percent of a tenant’s income.

“This is a turning point for tens of thousands of NYCHA residents. We have an opportunity to undo decades of neglect and mismanagement, and we have to take it,” said de Blasio. “These partnerships are one of our best proven tools to deliver critical repairs. We look forward to working with officials, residents and advocates on this and other new strategies to make a concrete difference for the 400,000 people who call NYCHA home.”

Renovations have already been completed to 1,395 apartments at Ocean Bay. There are currently nearly 8,900 units in NYCHA’s preservation program in resident engagement, pre development or development for comprehensive capital repairs. All 62,000 units will be completed on a rolling basis by 2028.

NYCHA Interim Chair and CEO Stanley Brezenoff said it was time to try a new strategy to make overdue repairs to public housing. Repairs to NYCHA buildings will include new kitchens and bathrooms; replacing windows, elevators, boilers and roofs; and improved common areas.

“As our properties need $32 billion worth of repairs, a new and radical approach is absolutely necessary to tackle that enormous figure,” he said. “This is why we are announcing a major expansion of PACT to transform 62,000 NYCHA apartments across the city by 2028, benefiting approximately 142,000 New Yorkers—more than a third of our residents—with nearly $13 billion of renovations and major repairs to their homes.”

However, while any improvements to public housing might sound like good news, some believe that improvements are a step to privatize NYCHA. The repairs are being made possible through public-private partnerships, including the Rental Assistance Demonstration program. Developers would reportedly be able to lease the buildings being repaired from NYCHA.

“The various euphemisms we have for privatization always raise my blood pressure when I hear them, but I also firmly believe we need to be creative and seize the opportunities we have to improve NYCHA residents’ living conditions and fix what’s broken,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. “Because of this, I’m pleased and cautiously optimistic about today’s news that 62,000 more apartments will receive needed repairs.”