“This is NYCHA, why haven’t you paid your rent?”

City plans to robocall NYCHA residents to collect $50M in rent
September 03, 2015 04:10PM

Public housing in New York City is not without its issues — a backlog of work orders, gang violence and mold, to name a few. Another problem? The New York City Housing Authority is not having an easy time collecting rent. To get its financial house (partially) in order, NYCHA officials are taking to the phone lines, with plans to robocall residents who are collectively $50 million delinquent on payments.

The robocalls — both in English and Spanish and directed to residents of Mott Haven and Sack Wern Houses in the Bronx and Brownsville Houses in Brooklyn — ask residents why their rent is late, according to Politico. The call also lets residents know there are multiple ways to pay the bills.

NYCHA won’t actually be able to collect the full $50 million, Politico reported. About 70 percent of the rent payments are in litigation for multiple missed payments and NYCHA predicts that residents will fall further behind on payments in December and January.

Average rent for a NYCHA apartment city-wide averages $477 per month, and a city report earlier this year found that roughly 26 percent of NYCHA residents are not current on their rent.

The agency, which houses over 400,000 low-income city dwellers, is essentially bankrupt, with $18 billion in capital repairs desperately needed in the next five years. The total operational deficit over the next decade is projected to eclipse $2 billion.

The de Blasio administration has struggled to push through a controversial plan, dubbed “NextGeneration NYCHA,” that would allow developers to build 17,000 apartments on NYCHA-owned open parcels. The mayor’s office says the plan could help close the deficit while also fulfilling his signature promise to construct affordable housing. [Politico]Jaclyn Peiser