Here’s how a federal program could help revamp public housing

It’s helped transform a complex in Queens

Ocean Bay (Bayside) Apartments at 434 Beach 54th Street in Far Rockaway (Credit: Apartments and NYHC)
Ocean Bay (Bayside) Apartments at 434 Beach 54th Street in Far Rockaway (Credit: Apartments and NYHC)

A federal program could help transform public housing in New York City.

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s Rental Assistance Demonstration program (also known as RAD), has rare bipartisan backing, Bloomberg reported. RAD is revenue-neutral becausemoney for the Section 8 vouchers comes from funds allocated for traditional municipal housing authority subsidies.

The program has helped developers of Far Rockaway’s Bayside homes use $560 million in private and government funds to revamp the 33-acre, 1,395-unit campus. And it pays off for investors, too. They have revenue from monthly vouchers guaranteed for 40 years instead of being subject to the fluctuations of federal budget appropriations.

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Bayside has been an example of success amid the city’s public housing crisis. The New York City Housing Authority needs $31.8 billion over the next five years to keep up with repairs. And Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a consent decree in June with federal prosecutors to settle investigations into lead paint and other issues at NYCHA. Under the agreement, a federal monitor was put in place to oversee the housing authority.

The federal program began in 2012 as a small pilot. Congress had made 225,000 units eligible in 2017 and boosted that to 455,000 this year. So far, 98,000 of the 1.15 million federal housing units nationally are getting renovations under the program, the report said. New York follows hundreds of public housing authorities that have used the program. [Bloomberg] — Meenal Vamburkar