Brooklyn, NY)—As the people of New York City continue to bear financial hardships, Senator Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn) addressed the New York City Housing Authority at a Wednesday, August 13, public hearing to help residents remain in their homes.
Facing an estimated operating budget deficit of $195 million this year, NYCHA has implemented a number of cost saving measures, including rent increases, to close the gap. Not only can rent increases be avoided, but also steps can be taken by federal, state and local leaders to recoup lost dollars and reinvest in the 15,000 housing authority units built by the state, said Senator Parker.
“We’ve been called back to Albany by Governor Paterson for a special session August 19 to find ways to shore up state finances and cut more than $600 million from the budget. In the context of this fiscal crisis, I ask my colleagues in elected office to be sensitive to NYCHA’s needs and to do all they can to increase state operating subsidies for these communities,” Senator Parker said.
In response to federal cuts in spending for public housing NYCHA has cut spending by half a billion dollars and cut 2,500 positions. To close the gap the housing authority has devised a sliding scale rent increase based upon the percentage of a tenant income spent on housing.
With additional state cuts in the pipeline and additional pressure to privatize public housing sure to come, Senator Parker is calling on city officials to suspend payments in lieu of taxes that these public facilities make to the city for basic local government services such as police protection, sanitation services and senior citizen centers.
“The city should be helping these facilities stay in the black. Instead the city is bleeding public housing to the point of bankruptcy at the expense of impoverished residents,” said Senator Parker. “By no means are these facilities, or were they ever intended to be, cash cows. The city needs to call off the dogs and provide public housing some breathing room.”
Senator Parker concluded: “At this financial juncture, New York City cannot afford to turn its back on public housing. New York’s housing authority is a model to other cities with its recent energy efficient retrofit programs and new education and recreation programs in place.”