Albany must act to protect the city’s public housing

 

By Daniel Squadron


It is no secret that the New York City Housing Authority is underfunded — residents suffer the consequences every day when they contend with broken elevators, heat outages and unsecured front doors.


Many factors contribute to NYCHA’s woes, but one is obvious: For more than a decade, the city and state have refused to provide funding for more than 20,000 units in 21 developments they built and are responsible for. Instead, NYCHA has to spread out federal dollars meant for its other units — since these 21 developments receive no federal subsidy from HUD. This has contributed more than $80 million a year to NYCHA’s annual operating deficit. And the people who pay for it are all of New York’s 400,000 public housing residents.


This problem is one important reason I joined with Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) last year to form the Save Our Underfunded NYCHA Developments (SOUND) Housing Campaign. But, unfortunately, this year Governor Paterson again proposed another budget with no operating funds for NYCHA.


Now, though, thanks to last year’s federal stimulus act, we have a unique opportunity to fix this problem. I, along with Assemblymember Vito Lopez and 20 co-sponsors, have introduced a bill that would allow NYCHA to “federalize” its city- and state-built developments, a switch that would bring in $400 million immediately, and allow us to draw more than $75 million in new federal funds each year…forever.


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