February 22, 2010

Assembly Approves Legislation Federalizing New York City Public Housing Projects

Legislation Would Allow NYCHA to Restructure Ownership of Housing Projects,
Make Them Eligible for Federal Funding to Fix Structural Problems in Buildings

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Ways and Means Committee Chair Herman D. Farrell and Housing Committee Chair Vito Lopez today announced the passage of legislation which would authorize the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to restructure the ownership of all or part of housing projects not currently receiving direct federal funding in order to be eligible for federal operating subsidies and federal subsidies for major repairs (A.9487-B).

There are currently 334 public housing developments operated by NYCHA. However, 21 of these, six owned by the city and 15 by the state, do not receive direct federal funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Federal funding would enable NYCHA to address dire structural problems in its buildings, including broken elevators, leaking roofs, and security issues. Through the passage of this legislation, NYCHA will be allowed to enter into mixed-finance transactions, making these developments eligible for federal funding.

The legislation allows for the financial reorganization of all or part of the residential buildings within state and city financed projects owned by NYCHA, with the approval of the Commissioner of the Division of Housing and Community Renewal. The housing projects which would be affected by this legislation include Marlboro Houses, Bushwick Houses, Independence Towers, Jonathan Williams Plaza and Independence Towers in Brooklyn; Castle Hill Houses, Arthur H. Murphy Houses and Baychester Houses in the Bronx; Chelsea Houses, 344 East 28th Street, Amsterdam Addition, Stephen Wise Towers, Drew-Hamilton Houses, Rutgers Houses and Manhattanville Houses in Manhattan; and Stapleton Houses in Staten Island.

"This innovative plan will bring critical funding for repairs and infrastructure improvements to Rutgers Houses in my Lower Manhattan community as well as NYCHA's 20 other city and state funded developments throughout the five boroughs," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "Simply put, this legislation will mean safer homes for thousands of public housing tenants."

"Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers depend upon the preservation and upkeep of quality public housing," said Farrell (D-Manhattan). "The legislation approved today will help address long-needed capital improvements in 21 NYCHA developments and help to restore fiscal stability to the nation's largest public housing system. Access to badly needed federal funds will help to reduce and hopefully eliminate future operating deficits for the Housing Authority."

"I am proud to sponsor this creative legislation to provide state and city public housing developments with much needed financial resources for their operating and maintenance needs," said Lopez (D-Brooklyn). "Under the current financial climate in New York State, it would be impossible to provide the resources to maintain the quality of life for the residents in these developments."

Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo (D-Bronx) said: "NYCHA developments are a source of public housing for thousands of families in the Bronx and throughout the five boroughs. Unfortunately, the authority faces deficits each year which threaten the quality of nearly two dozen buildings. This bill will allow for the financing of needed renovations and help NYCHA financially in the long run."

Assemblyman Michael Benjamin (D-Bronx) said: "This mixed-finance modernization plan provides NYCHA with a long- term solution to preserve Murphy Houses and the other state-funded developments as affordable public housing. I believe that this plan will protect and preserve public housing for another generation of families. I will make sure that NYCHA works with tenants to identify needed capital improvements to restore building standards."

Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny (D-Brooklyn) said: "Along with the residents of the Marlboro Houses, I am very pleased that we were able to pass such an important bill, which will ease NYCHA's operating deficits and allow for direct funding from the federal government. With this reorganization, nearly two dozen NYCHA developments in serious need of improvements will have access to needed funding."

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) said: "After years of not receiving adequate funding by the state, the New York City Housing Authority, under this new federalization legislation, will now be able to modernize and upgrade its city and state developments, as it has for those residents living in developments currently funded by the federal government."

Assemblyman Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said: "This legislation provides a way for the federal government to put much needed capital funding into New York City Housing Authority facilities."

Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) said: "This groundbreaking legislation will provide the New York City Public Housing Authority with a desperately needed funding stream to better provide the quality housing that low-income New Yorkers deserve."

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan) said: "Year after year, public housing residents have suffered the effects of underfunding of the New York City Housing Authority, including faulty maintenance, broken elevators, and inadequate security. I am proud to join with NYCHA and my colleagues in the legislature- along with many members of the SOUND Housing Campaign, which we formed to address NYCHA's structural deficit- to take this important step to enable tens of millions of dollars in new federal funding to flow to NYCHA and put our public housing on a sounder financial footing for many years to come."

Assemblyman Alan Maisel (D-Brooklyn) said: "Under current law, the New York City Housing Authority does not have the funding it needs to maintain these housing projects. This legislation would help bring much-needed structural improvements to these buildings, and ultimately create a safer environment for the families who inhabit them."

Assemblyman Peter M. Rivera (D-Bronx) said: "This legislation offers us the opportunity to solicit federal funding for the maintenance, improvement and preservation of hundreds of affordable housing units that will serve low-income families. More and more New Yorkers are paying a larger percentage of their income on housing; straining their financial resources and creating hardships. Policy changes such as the one represented by this proposed law are welcomed opportunities that help meet the demand for safe and affordable apartments."

Assemblyman Matthew Titone (D-North Shore) said: "Ensuring that we have enough affordable housing for our seniors and families is essential for keeping our neighborhoods thriving. This bill will help make the development of housing units at Stapleton Houses possible and provide more housing options for seniors with low-income in our community."