Public housing

Mayor Eric Adams urges Albany to pass Public Housing Preservation Trust bill for NYCHA

Speaking from the Polo Grounds towers in Harlem on Monday alongside NYCHA President and CEO Gregory Russ, the mayor said he intends to fight for the passage of the bill before the end of the session. legislative on June 2.

“For too long, our NYCHA communities have been ignored and denied their fair share of investment and services,” Adams said. “But we’re changing that with this legislation, and my administration is ready to fight for NYCHA.”

The Public Housing Preservation Trust Bill would allow the housing authority to set up a public benefit corporation which would facilitate the transfer of 25,000 units into a public trust. The transfer would trigger the flow of federal tenant protection bonds and double the amount of funding these units receive each month from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The trust would also allow NYCHA to contract out repairs to private developers while retaining public management.

The trust would have a nine-member board: five publicly appointed members and four resident members.

During Crain’s breakfast last month, Russ said NYCHA’s housing conditions were “the toughest” he’s seen in 25 years in public housing, and he held up a copy of the housing bill. preservation of public housing.

“It’s the future,” he said. “We have the opportunity to create a sister entity to reserve, in perpetuity, social housing financed by the Section 8 program. So it is a chance. We won’t have too many more. »

New modes of financing

The Public Housing Preservation Trust would transform how much of NYCHA’s portfolio is funded. The housing authority is using two federal aid programs to funnel outside money into its capital budget to fund repairs.

The Rental Assistance Demonstration Program is the only public service that attracts private investment in social housing. RAD, launched in 2011 under the Obama administration, takes individual public housing funded by traditional Section 9 guidelines and places it under the umbrella of Section 8, which provides public subsidies for private rentals. The RAD conversion allows public housing to receive additional capital assistance in the form of private investment on a unit basis.

The Permanent Affordability Commitment Together program combines small levels of capital assistance from the RAD with lucrative federal tenant protection bonds that apply only to units deemed by HUD to be in such poor condition that ‘they become obsolete. Funding levels per unit under PACT are much higher than RAD, about $650 more per month.

Under Russ’ leadership, NYCHA decided to convert 62,000 of its 177,500 units into RAD-PACT designated apartments. Russ told City Council at a hearing this month that NYCHA will have converted about 30,000 units to RAD-PACT designated apartments by the end of this year.

The problem, said Rachel Fee, executive director of the New York City Housing Conference, is that the levels of private and public investment under RAD-PACT are not enough to fund $40 billion in needed repairs.

“They’ve actually made good progress in converting and getting some private investment,” Fee said. “But that leaves out the two-thirds of the portfolio that has no pathway for major repairs. Funding is insufficient for two-thirds of the portfolio.

Innovative solution

Russ said the Public Housing Preservation Trust bill could fill the void for the remaining NYCHA portfolio. By forming a public trust that can fund more housing units beyond the scale of RAD or PACT schemes, Russ expects a “huge amount of money” to be raised for the repairs.

“We must act now if we are to save the homes of over 400,000 New Yorkers,” Russ said. “We can’t keep doing things the same way and expecting different results.”

At least 25,000 units would be allowed to enter the trust under the proposed legislation.

The trust would also allow the use of design-build, a process of placing all entities in a construction project – designer, contractor, subcontractor – under one umbrella of ownership and subcontracting.

NYCHA and the Adams administration expressed their belief that these reformed procurement rules would reduce the cost of repairs and speed up construction times.

“We won’t be able to give residents the homes they deserve unless something major happens – and that’s the Public Housing Preservation Trust,” said Jessica Katz, the city’s housing director. town.