The New York City Housing Authority will turn over 62,000 apartments to private developers as a way to provide necessary repairs to the units, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday. Through a public-private partnership, via the Rental Assistance Demonstration program (RAD), all units will be converted into Section 8 and remain permanently affordable. Renovations, which will cost nearly $13 billion, include new kitchens and bathrooms, improved common spaces, and replacing windows, boilers, roofs, and elevators. About 142,000 New Yorkers across the developments will benefit from the repair work.
“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, “de Blasio said. “These partnerships are one of our best-proven tools to deliver critical repairs.”
The mayor’s announcement comes a week after a federal judge denied a settlement that would have hired a monitor to oversee NYCHA, suggesting that the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development should take over the authority instead. NYCHA has been embroiled in scandals involving the deteriorating conditions, like lead paint, mold, vermin and broken boilers, at many of its developments.
The housing authority may also sell its unused air rights and/or accelerate a plan to allow developers to build market-rate apartments on underused land owned by the authority. According to Politico, the plan calls for a 70-30 split of market-rate to rent-regulated housing in private developments on public land. In total, the agency needs $32 billion over five years for necessary repairs.
Under the program announced Monday, the city would make deals with private developers through RAD, a federal program that converts apartments into the Section 8 housing program. The developers then lease the buildings from NYCHA, operating as private landlords and collecting subsidies.
RAD includes protections for tenants that prevents the private developers from turning the apartments into market-rate units. The New York Times reported that advocates warned even within the same housing complex, new agreements could change the rights of tenants.
But de Blasio said privatization will not push public housing tenants out. “I absolutely understand their fears, and I sympathize, and I want to make sure that day never comes,” the mayor told the Times.
NYCHA has converted two developments already, Ocean Bay in 2016 and Twin Parks West in October. The authority announced on Monday plans to convert the Betances Houses in the Bronx into Section 8 housing through RAD. The 1,088 apartments at the Betances Houses will get capital repairs starting next month, which will include new kitchens, bathrooms, floors, boilers, and hot water heaters, and more.
And NYCHA announced it will release requests for proposals for 21 developments across Manhattan and Brooklyn next month.
“The expansion and acceleration of RAD is a game changer for public housing in NYC,” Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said. “We know from experience that RAD is a reliable, scalable strategy that resolves deferred maintenance while keeping rents affordable – now, we’re able to bring these improvements to more than 140,000 NYCHA residents.”
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- All NYCHA coverage here