NYCHA Floats Setting Up Seperate Pubic Authority To Oversee Improvements

NYCHA's Gravesend Houses. Photo/Google Maps.

It will take the creation of a new public authority to oversee and fix the myriad of problems that the New York City Public Housing Authority (NYCHA) faces.

That is the heart of NYCHA Chair & CEO Gregory Russ’ A Blueprint for Change that he released this week at the New York Housing Conference’s (NYHC) 2020 Rising Leaders Network Summer Series.

Under the plan, the new authority would be called the Public Housing Preservation Trust, which would be able to tap into more federal funding through leveraging existing federal tenant protection vouchers to address the $18 billion to $25 billion in capital need across roughly 110,000 apartments.

“As the largest public housing authority in the nation, NYCHA confronts complex and unique challenges, and at the same time, our scale and dramatic need provide an opportunity for us to be more innovative than ever before,” said Russ. “NYCHA is doing the work to transform its organizational structure and operations, and sustain compliance and ongoing accountability, and now we are poised to pursue a recapitalization plan for the entire portfolio. Our Blueprint document offers a set of options that can position us as a stable, sustainable resource in New York City, which we have served since 1935 and will continue to serve for generations to come.”

The plan comes after the city agreed to a Federal Court order last year for a federal monitor to ensure NYCHA implemented compliance, environmental health and safety, and quality assurance policies and programs. The court order came following the de Blasio’s mismanagement of NYCHA including its alleged lying about doing led testing of residents and several NYCHA complexes going through winters with no or partial heat and hot water.

The Blueprint document is a set of ideas that outlines potential pathways for NYCHA’s reorganization and investing of capital to stabilize and improve its properties, with additional impacts that could drive jobs and recovery strategies.

The document begins a discussion on methods and approaches to improve and preserve NYCHA’s more than 300 developments and 175,000 apartments for generations to come.

Among the other highlights of the plan include:

  • The first-ever comprehensive plan for every property and every building in NYCHA’s portfolio.
  • Foundational changes to ensure ongoing compliance, environmental health and safety, and quality assurance and that basic Housing Quality Standards are met.
  • plan and process for transforming NYCHA’s organizational structure and business operations to create a culture of service for residents.
  • Resident rights, protections, and affordability in perpetuity.
  • Use of green building technology for retrofits, which would drive down utility costs and de-carbonize the Authority.
  • Investment in quality jobs and catalyzation of NYC’s economic recovery.
State Senator Brian P. Kavanagh
Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz
Alicka Ampry-Samuel
City Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel

“We have had a long, hard struggle in New York to get our public housing back on track,” said State Sen. and Chair of the State Senate Housing Committee Brian Kavanagh (D-Lower Manhattan, Northern Brooklyn). “For so many years, inadequate funding for maintenance and capital repairs, operational difficulties, and failures of basic services have undermined the quality and safety of the homes of nearly half a million New Yorkers. In this context, I applaud the efforts of Greg Russ and the Housing Authority staff to put forth the Blueprint for Change, which aims to fundamentally rethink the way public housing operates and dramatically improve living conditions. I look forward to working with NYCHA, resident leaders, my elected colleagues, and the many organizations and individuals who care about the future of public housing to address the challenges of bringing about such a far-reaching transformation, and to ensure that the State legislation that will be needed to authorize this program serves to maximize its chances of success, while securing the rights of current and future residents.”

Assembly Member and Chair of the Housing Committee Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach) called the Blueprint for Change an innovative approach to overcoming the almost insurmountable capital need facing NYCHA.

“I look forward to working with NYCHA and my colleagues in the Legislature to develop legislation that will help make the Preservation Trust a reality and, as always, remain committed to doing all I can to assist NYCHA at a time when so much is at stake for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who call its developments home,” said Cymbrowitz.

City Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel (D-Brownsville, East Flatbush, Crown Heights), chair of the council’s Public Housing Committee,  New York, said the call for legislators to establish a Public Housing Preservation Trust, is a vision she looks forward to exploring, in the hopes of ensuring residents are able to participate in the management and possible ownership structures.

“Today we have an opportunity to include the talents and skills of all residents and plan for preservation of public housing that is inclusive of the people I took an oath to represent,” Ampry-Samuel said.


More from Around New York