Over the past few months, residents of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) have seen a multitude of the inadequacies of the housing authority become public; from severe announced budget cuts from the federal government to revelations of false reports for lead paint inspections, to widespread heating outages this winter. Amidst ongoing capital deficits for urgent repairs such as roof and boiler replacements. Members of the New York City Council have gone as far as to request that Governor Andrew Cuomo call a ‘State of Emergency’, expediting repairs and enabling further oversight of the authority of the state government.
On March 7th in an interview with NY1 he committed to go forward with that request, calling attention to the estimated four year timeline it would take to replace boilers within the housing authority. But he has not given an explicit commitment to providing funding for NYCHA in this year’s state budget, and instead placing the weight of the situation on mismanagement. Residents and advocates alike agreed that poor decisions in the maintenance of its portfolio as well as a lack of transparency have exacerbated the situation of the authority failing to meet the most basic needs of its tenants as the largest landlord in the country. However to be clear, the loss of approximately $200 million to the authority’s capital fund and $100 million to its operations fund just this past year, with a proposed elimination of all funding in the HUD Public Housing Capital Fund totaling $1.8 billion in the 2017-21 5-Year Capital Plan are devastating blows to public housing communities, incompetence or not.
Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE) demand that the Governor include funding in this year’s budget that seeks to mitigate both the executed and project cuts to HUD and the housing authority and sets a precedent for the reintroduction of the state as a consistent funding stream. NYCHA has its enormous and steadily growing capital needs deficit, which is estimated at $25 billion because of not only constant budget cuts from the federal government, but the abandonment of state responsibility from the Pataki administration onward. Governor Cuomo, as a former HUD secretary, may know better than anyone in the state of how the housing authority got to the position it is in now and has a unique role in making right this failure of state policy.
What Are Our Demands?
Consistent and Appropriate Ongoing Funding to Meet the Current Crisis in NYCHA.
FUREE calls for the inclusion of $1 billion to the Fiscal Year 2019 state budget and $5 billion over the next years for urgent work that has been demanded by residents and advocates for public housing to keep the authority’s portfolio viable and bring thousands of units back to conditions that are in line with the “Warranty of Habitability” required of private landlords in the city of New York. The $300 million that has been already allocated to the housing authority is a good start but the state can do much better for the 500,000 residents living in NYCHA.
Oversight from the Legislature to Ensure Accountability to Necessary Repairs.
NYCHA has shown that it has structural failures that do not allow it to step up to the task of maintaining its housing portfolio without explicit intervention from local, state and federal government. This ask speaks not only to the incompetence of the authority but also the assurance to tenants that their government is working to protect them from health hazards and intimidation from the authority itself when they demand the services that they pay for. The state should also expedite the funding it has already approved for NYCHA. We support S. 1989 which authorizes additional oversight over NYCHA from the New York City Council and hope members of the Assembly follow the lead of the Senate in passing a similar bill to be sent to the Governor.
It may also be in the best interest of the State Legislature to create a separate subcommittee focused on the oversight of NYCHA within the current existing structures to address housing issues across the state.
Advocacy from State For Local Hiring and Training of NYCHA Residents for Work Similar to Section 3.
Despite the requirements in NYCHA’s current Project Labor Agreement, residents in NYCHA find that not only is the work they need in their apartments done inefficiently at a cost of often unpaid time off and frustration but also see the requirements within the current Project Labor Agreement go unaccounted for. The housing authority requires billions of dollars of work that should be used as an opportunity to enter the building trades and employ residents in a way to help fix their own communities.
NYCHA is the most affordable housing that remains in the city of New York. It deserves to be protected from brutal budget cuts and its tenants deserve a healthy and safe place to live.
WE’RE HERE TO FIGHT BECAUSE HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT!