NYCHA needs $32B over the next five years for repairs: study

There’s a $25B shortfall of public subsidies for housing authority

Deborah Goddard, executive vice president for capital projects at NYCHA, and the Queensbridge Houses (credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Deborah Goddard, executive vice president for capital projects at NYCHA, and the Queensbridge Houses (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The New York City Housing Authority needs $31.8 billion over the next five years to keep up with a laundry list of repairs. But there’s a $25 billion hole in the five-year plan that’s unaccounted for by any form of public subsidy.

The figures come from a mandated study the city conducted in 2016 and 2017 to take stock of conditions at NYCHA’s 2,413 buildings across 325 complexes, Politico reported.

To put the $31.8 billion figure in perspective, it’s roughly one-third of the city’s $89.15 billion budget.

“No housing authority is getting over a five-year period the money it needs to address simply its five-year need,” Deborah Goddard, executive vice president for capital projects, told Politico. “When we’re not treating the buildings, there’s incremental deterioration. That’s inevitable; it’s predictable.”

“It’s like we have a loan on which we can’t pay the interest,” she added.

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Mayor Bill de Blasio last month signed a consent decree with federal prosecutors to settle investigations into lead paint and other issues at NYCHA. Under the agreement, the city committed to spending another $1.2 billion over the next 10 years, and a federal monitor was put in place to oversee the sprawling housing authority. On Saturday, the New York Daily News reported that 820 children in public housing had lead in their blood, far higher than city officials had initially stated.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has held back on releasing funding from his voluntary, multiyear $550 million allocation until the federal monitor is appointed. Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, kicked off the search for a monitor last Thursday.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, meanwhile, is proposing significant cuts to public housing across the country, and is encouraging local governments to reach out to the private sector to help address capital needs.

City Council Member Ritchie Torres, former chair of the Public Housing Committee, said the city should build more market-rate apartments on underused land owned by the housing authority to bring in more revenue. That land is currently leased to private developers, who build a mix of market-rate and city-subsidized homes.

“It seems to me that private developers in the housing world are able to make changes at a greater pace than NYCHA ever would,” he said. “What would happen if you had a capital program that was liberated from NYCHA’s byzantine bureaucracy?” [Politico] – Rich Bockmann