Governor Kathy Hochul Thursday signed new legislation S.9409-A/A.7805-D establishing the New York City Public Housing Preservation Trust and paving the way for the overdue repair, rehabilitation, and modernization of 25,000 apartments under control of the New York City Housing Authority.
According to one HUD source, the Trust will allow more and better funding of debt to allow much needed capital improvements to the many aging New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments. Sometimes fixing a leak in one unit requires breaking down walls and fixing the piping and infrastructure for an entire floor, the HUD source said.
According to a NYCHA fact sheet, 175 out of NYCHA’s 302 developments are 50 years or older, including 36 developments that are 70 years or older.
The new law will unlock the authority’s ability to invest billions of dollars in capital to stabilize its buildings by establishing the Trust as a public benefit corporation able to issue bonds and raise capital for comprehensive building renovations and improvements.
As a result, basic environmental health and safety issues, such as lead, mold, heating, elevators, pests, as well as other systems work, apartment rehabilitation, and grounds improvements, will be better funded and completed more quickly.
“Today is a major win for all New Yorkers who call NYCHA home,” Hochul said. “This legislation will unlock additional federal funding and lead to billions of dollars in renovations — after decades of federal disinvestment — and provide for critical improvements for 25,000 apartments in NYCHA developments across the city.
Under the plan, NYCHA – which oversees the nation’s largest public housing system – will now draw hundreds of millions of federal dollars in new support per year by utilizing federal Tenant Protection Vouchers that receive a higher per-unit subsidy than traditional Section 9 public housing. This additional subsidy will permit NYCHA to raise debt off the increase for vital capital improvements.
Importantly, the Trust will guarantee homes are kept permanently affordable while also preserving all current rights and protections for residents, including:
- Residents will pay only 30 percent of income towards rent;
- Residents will maintain all current succession rights;
- Apartments will continue to be restricted to low-income residents; and
- Apartment vacancies will continue to be filled using NYCHA waitlists.
In addition, residents will have the right to vote and decide whether to opt-in to the Trust. Residents will also play an active role in determining which vendors are chosen to complete renovation work at their developments.
Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) who sponsored the legislation on the assembly side, said he NYCHA Trust represents the opportunity of a lifetime to remake public housing after decades of federal funding failing to materialize, too many urgent repairs going unrealized and NYCHA residents having to live with the consequences.
“Bringing the Trust legislation to fruition was a herculean effort that involved the collaborative work of a lot of people, including housing advocates, NYCHA, and city and state government, all of whom never lost sight of the goal or of the shared mission of improving the lives of NYCHA residents,” said Cymbrowitz.
Senator Julia Salazar (D-Brooklyn) said residents of the two dozen NYCHA developments in her district and public housing throughout New York City have been forced to wait decades for legislators to take serious action on urgently needed repairs to the aging NYCHA developments.
“Tenants have previously had no choice in that process. By creating a public housing preservation trust, this bill will allow NYCHA to secure the federal funding and additional financing needed to improve conditions in NYCHA developments without privatization,” said Salazar.
“Furthermore, this marks the empowerment of NYCHA residents to collectively make decisions about their respective developments and manage their buildings. The legislation also crucially protects all collective bargaining rights for NYCHA’s unionized workforce and will create additional high-quality, union jobs,” she added.