NYCHA’s Three Plans for Public Housing | Brief Overview

Since 2015, NYCHA and the City have announced three plans for public housing. They claim these will repair and modernize buildings for generations to come. We are not so sure. Below is an explanation of the plans – what do you think?

Infill / NextGeneration NYCHA 2015

  • Leasing open space on NYCHA campuses – including parking lots and playgrounds – to private developers to build new, mostly market-rate housing. To say this another way, this strategy replaces community resources with housing that will be unaffordable to the existing community.
  • Tenants have resisted, and this strategy has since been put on ice.

RAD / PACT in NYCHA 2.0 2018

  • transfers 62,000 to private management companies.
    RAD conversions across the country have been accompanied by displacement and other hardships for tenants. So far, this is also true for conversions in NYC.
  • The City piloted RAD at Ocean Bay Houses in Far Rockaway in 2016. Between January 2017 to February 2019, Ocean Bay had the highest rate of eviction of all public housing developments across the city – more than twice the second highest.
  • Questions have also been raised as to whether tenants are better off. While some are thankful for the repairs, others are finding that they’re waiting longer for repairs than before, and there’s less transparency and accountability.
  • In addition, tenants lose protections that were won during a 2013 lawsuit against NYCHA. That lawsuit requires the housing authority to robustly respond to and address mold and mildew issues in tenants’ apartments, even requiring that the authority pay to relocate residents if remediation involves construction work. When units and buildings undergo a RAD conversion, this court mandate is terminated.

The Blueprint / 2020

(introduced in the middle of a global pandemic, no less)

  • creates a new public benefits corporation called The Public Preservation Trust. It will be run by financial professionals who will treat our homes and communities like an asset portfolio.
  • There will be a board which will include 4 residents expected to represent to hundreds of thousands of NYCHA tenants across the city. They will not be a majority on the 9-person board.
  • The Trust will obtain a different government subsidy called Tenant Protection Vouchers which will 1) transfer units from Section 9 to Section 8, and be leveraged to create financing streams (potentially private investors) to pay for repairs. They liken this to taking out a mortgage on a home. There has been no discussion of how this debt would be paid, or what risk it may pose to residents. When rent-regulated units were opened up to private investment, over leveraging contributed to dilapidating conditions for tenants. Will this debt be subject to secondary financial markets, like the speculative practices that led to the foreclosure crisis starting in 2006?
  • Tenants may be relocated while repairs are being made; there is no clarity on how long relocation might last.
  • After one year, tenants may ask for a tenant-based voucher and move out of NYCHA – these vouchers may or may not be available.

Overall Critique

Where is the resident engagement? Why are these plans being brought to the community after they’ve been devised?

Is this privatization?

Yes and No.

Infill is the privaization and financlalization of parts of specific NYCHA campuses. For example, a playground or parking lot is leased to a private developer to build a residential tower.

RAD is the privativation of the management of specific buildings. The city enters into a 99-year ground lease with the private company.

The Blueprint is the financialization of public housing. The Trust will subject properties to financial and market-based logics and instruments.

To the extent that all public housing units in NYC will be transferred from Section 9 to Section 8, this will effectively be the end of public housing as we know it.

They say our rights will remain in tact.

Are your rights in tact right now?

Posted on: August 22, 2020

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