De Blasio considering shift toward 100% market-rate development on NYCHA land

Mayor is looking to generate revenue for cash-strapped agency

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Holmes Towers (Credit: Getty Images and Curbed NY)
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Holmes Towers (Credit: Getty Images and Curbed NY)

Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering a shift in his administration’s housing policy toward 100-percent market-rate buildings on unused land owned by the cash-strapped New York City Housing Authority.

So far, the mayor has been reluctant to allow such developments on NYCHA-owned land for fear that the policy would look too much like privatization. But sources said that given the challenges faced by the housing authority, the mayor is now considering opening the doors for entirely market-rate development, Politico reported.

NYCHA spokesperson Robin Levine did not specifically address market-rate housing on public land, but said that the troubled agency is exploring all of its options.

“With a $32 billion unmet need and new leadership at the helm, nothing is off the table as NYCHA explores how to best raise much-needed revenue for the authority,” she said. “We’re engaged in good faith conversations with all stakeholders.”

NYCHA needs $31.8 billion over the next five years to meet its capital needs, and the city is drafting its 10-year master plan for the agency.

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The administration thus far has agreed to allow either low-income housing or a 50-50 split of market-rate and affordable apartments on underused or vacant NYCHA land.

In a report released last month, the Citizens Budget Commission watchdog group said the mayor’s administration has made “limited progress” in trading valuable land for much-needed revenue.

The city originally planned to generate between $300 million and $600 million over 10 years by allowing development on underutilized NYCHA properties or selling air rights. But so far the policy has only yielded $62 million, according to the Citizens Budget Commission.

In June, the city reached a settlement with federal prosecutors over claims of health and safety issues at NYCHA, agreeing to spend $1.2 billion over five years on improvements and ceding oversight to a federal monitor.

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is sitting on $550 million he’s allotted to NYCHA until the federal monitor is put in place. [Politico] – Rich Bockmann