Billions from the State for Affordable Housing, but Only $100 Million for Public Housing?


PH Lobby Day Group Photo

NEW YORK, NY: On Wednesday, March 16, nearly 500 New York City residents of public housing headed to Albany to encourage Governor Cuomo, whose administration is committing $5 billion in state funds over the next five years to build affordable housing in the city to make a parallel capital commitment to sustain and upgrade public housing in the city.Since the late 1990s, there’s been an unprecedented tide of government disinvestment at all levels in the city’s public housing. As a result, NYCHA’s aging infrastructure is rapidly declining, subjecting nearly half a million residents to substandard living conditions. Between 1998 and 2010, the State has contributed heavily to the present crisis by terminating operating subsidies to 15 state developments, leaving NYCHA with an operating shortfall of $60 million annually, which totals a cumulative shortfall of $720 million. Additionally, there is a cumulative capital investment shortfall of $17 billion for next ten years.

To reverse this trend NYCHA residents went to Albany to call for $2.5 billion over 5 years in state funding — a significant increase over the $100 million in capital funds the state allocated last year. They also called for using Battery Park City Authority excess revenues to fund NYCHA capital improvements, and for the creation of an independent council to hold NYCHA accountable.

CVH Power was joined by Community Service Society of New York (CSSNY), Public housing Tenant Association presidents from all five boroughs, Public Housing Communities, Inc (PHC), Citywide Council of Presidents (CCOP), Legal Aid Soceity, Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), New York Communities for Change (NYCC), Real Affordability for All (RAFA) Coalition, Teamsters Local 237, NYCHA Coalition, District Council 37 and Prison Reentry Project (John Jay College)…all under the umbrella Public Housing Legislative Agenda group.  Every borough was represented and the power of public housing residents was on display.

The residents split up into teams to fan out across the State Capitol and let elected officials know of their top three priorities:

  1. State Money: Develop a plan parallel to the Governor’s Affordable Housing Plan, which commits $2.5 billion in State Funds over the next 5 years to Major Capital Improvements for NYCHA Buildings.
  2. Battery Park City Money: Maintain the agreement of dedicating $400 million in Battery Park City Authority excess revenues to NYCHA capital improvements. This can be accomplished simply by the NYC Mayor, NYC Comptroller, and Governor signing the agreement. The Governor and NYC Comptroller are already in support.
  3. Independent Oversight Council: Develop an Independent Oversight Council made up of Elected Officials, Stakeholders, Advocacy groups and NYCHA residents to hold NYCHA accountable to funding allocation commitments and achieving fiscal solvency.

The group held 60 meetings with legislators and 30 more legislators were pulled off the floor.  Senators Adriano Espaillat and Jeff Klein, Assembly Members Michael Blake, Alicia Hyndman, Deputy Assembly Speaker Felix Ortiz and other elected officials joined the group in the Convention Center.

While the Governor proposed zero funds for public housing in his Executive Budget, the Assembly Budget included $500 million over 5 years ($100 million per year), and the Senate Democrats proposed $150 million for the upcoming fiscal year.  Public housing residents will continue to work until the state budget is passed to ensure that the maximum amount of funds possible are dedicated to the preservation and improvement of the critical public housing stock.

PH Lobby Day 3

PH Lobby Day 1PH Lobby Day 2