New York City Housing Authority

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About NYCHA - 75th Anniversary


New York City Housing Authority, 75 Years, Keeping the Promise

February 17, 1934: Mayor LaGuardia signs bill establishing the New York City Housing Authority, less than three weeks after Governor Herbert Lehman authorizes creation of public housing.

November 21, 1934: Authority signs agreement with Vincent Astor to purchase a row of Old Law tenements at Avenue A and Third Street as the site for First Houses.

December 3, 1935: First Houses is dedicated by LaGuardia, Governor Lehman and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt as thousands line streets of Lower East Side.

July 5, 1936: Construction starts on Harlem River Houses, one of two housing projects built in New York City directly by the federal government under the Public Works Administration. Williamsburg Houses construction starts September 8, 1936.

December 1, 1937: The United States Housing Act of 1937 (Wagner-Steagall Bill) establishes federally-aided housing program.

August 1, 1938: Construction starts on Red Hook Houses, the first development to be built under the 1937 Housing Act.

September 8, 1939: New York State public housing law is created, enabling the state to build subsidized housing.

September 10, 1939: Construction begins on Vladeck Houses, the first city-aided housing development. City leads the way in creating federal, state and city legislative mechanisms to develop and manage public housing.

April 26, 1941: Start of construction of Fort Greene Houses (later to be renamed Whitman-Ingersoll Houses), the first state-aided development.

August 15, 1949: U.S. Housing Act of 1949 amends 1937 Act to revive federally-aided public housing and provide separate slum clearance and redevelopment program.

Housing Patrolman with children at Smith Houses, 1953.

December 15, 1952: Establishment of Housing Police with swearing-in of first 47 patrolmen.

January 23, 1962: Groundbreaking for Gaylord White Houses in Manhattan, first project designed exclusively for elderly.

June 1968: First Tenant Patrol. (Tenant Patrols are now in place in more than 150 developments)

March 24, 1970: Effective date of Brooke and Sparkman amendments. The Brooke Amendment provided that no family living in federally-subsidized public housing need pay more than 25% of its income for rent. The Sparkman Amendment provided subsidy funds for maintenance of federally-subsidized developments.

December 6, 1972: Urban Family Center opens. Half-way house for families in severe distress.

June 3, 1974: Federal government approves conversion of Forest Hills project to low-income cooperative - first large-scale low-income cooperative in country.

August 22, 1974: Housing and Community Development Act of 1974. Section 8 of Act creates massive leased-housing program utilizing private sector. Besides existing housing, the Act also authorizes new construction.

January 1, 1976: HUD institutes Performance Funding Subsidy with operating subsidies for federal development based on performance of local authority. New York City Housing Authority is judged a "high performance" agency. March 31, 1976: First families receive briefing and Family Participation Certificates under Section 8 Program.

July 1, 1977: Authority Transfer Program. First group of 11 state-aided developments transferred to federal program. ATP program now encompasses 42 former state or city developments with a total of 48,132 units.

Williams Plaza, a New York State-built development in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

August 13, 1981: Housing and Community Development Act of 1981 establishes new rent levels for public housing - 30% of income.

June 26, 1984: Formal celebration of the 50th anniversary of public housing in New York City.

November 15, 1984: Execution of contract for $3 million in funds for modernization of state-aided developments.

September 1, 1986: Authority begins program to install child safety window guards.

September 10, 1986: Authority forms special Narcotics Task Force to combat the spread of drugs, particularly "crack cocaine."

October 16, 1986: Bushwick II (Group E) dedicated. Final phase of development program is in response to Brooklyn community's request for housing assistance following destruction of blackout of 1977. All told, threephase program, Bushwick P60, Bushwick II (Groups A, B, C & D), and Bushwick II (Group E) provides 1,206 low-income apartments.

December 22, 1987: Housing and Community Development Act of 1987 passed; first free-standing legislation in seven years.

June 5, 1989: HUD approves Authority request for ceiling rents in federal program.

January 1994: Newly elected Mayor Rudolph Giuliani makes safety and security in public housing the highest priority for Chairman Ruben Franco and Board.

January 4, 1995: As a result of public hearings and with the approval of HUD, NYCHA adopts a Local Preference for working families in half of all new admissions.

NYCHA resident speaks with police officer at Jackie Robinson Houses Night Out Against Crime event

April 30, 1995: Housing Police merges with NYPD. Housing Bureau is established. Authority's "One Strike You're Out" policy strengthens evictions procedures for drug offenses, anticipating similar Federal program by one year.

May/June 1995: Authority begins decentralization of Management, Community Operations and other units, moving them from central office headquarters to borough offices. Move provides more economical and effective service to residents.

April 19, 1996: Modification of Escalera consent decree enables NYCHA to evict tenants involved with drugs more rapidly.

November 13, 1997: NYCHA prevails over Family Legal Aid Society which challenged the Working Preference. The Working Family Preference becomes a reality on January 5, 1998.

January 1, 1998: Authority operates 344 developments housing 431,496 people. Approximately 72,000 families live in Section 8 leased housing. NYCHA is nationally recognized as the finest large housing program in the country.

October 1, 1998: President Clinton signs the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act (QHWRA) representing public housing reform. QHWRA allows for each household to have one pet and requires all residents who are not exempt to perform eight hours of Community Service a month as a condition of their tenancy.

April 19, 1999: Mayor Rudolph Giuliani swears in John G. Martinez as 18th Chairman of NYCHA.

April 1, 2001: Mayor Rudolph Giuliani swears in Tino Hernandez, former Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice, as 19th Chairman of NYCHA.

September 11, 2001: Terrorist attack at World Trade Center forces NYCHA to evacuate its eight floors of office space at 90 Church Street and employees are temporarily relocated to Long Island City and 90 Fifth Avenue.

December 2002: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announces his New Housing MartketPlace initiative to create or preserve 68,000 units of affordable housing by 2008, committing $3 billion. Calls on the City's three housing agencies: NYCHA, Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) to work together.

September 2003: NYCHA opens the Stanton Street development on Manhattan's Lower East Side. The $4 million, 13-unit development is specifically for low-income families with special needs.

June 2004: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announces a four-pronged initiative to fight crime in public housing called Operation Safe Housing. Under Operation Safe Housing NYCHA will create a dedicated administrative hearing part to expedite eviction cases involving felony, gun, drug and sex offenses committed on NYCHA property; ban drug dealers who sell drugs on NYCHA property from public housing grounds and arrest violators for trespass; and enhance supervision of parolees.

July 2004: NYCHA returns to a renovated facility at 90 Church Street, reaffirming commitment to Lower Manhattan as headquarters of the agency.

March 2005: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announces $2 billion plan for modernization and preservation of the City's public housing, including an unprecedented $600 million bond agreement. NYCHA's sister agency, the Housing Development Corporation (HDC), to sell the bonds. Proceeds to be used for the maintenance and modernization of NYCHA's aging buildings and infrastructure.

Grandmother and grandson, residents of the PSS Grandparent Family Apartments

April 2005: NYCHA, in collaboration with Presbyterian Senior Services (PSS) and the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing (WSFSSH), opens the PSS Grandparent Family Apartments in the Morrisania section of the Bronx. This six-story building consisting of 50 apartments rented exclusively to households with generation-skipping family compositions, is the first facility of its kind in the country to be built from the ground up.

August 2005: Ribbon-cutting for 37 new townhouses completed during Phase 1 of the $175 million HOPE VI Revitalization of Prospect Plaza in Brooklyn. The townhouses include two apartments, one for the homeowner/landlord and one for a tenant. Former Prospect Plaza residents are given first priority for the new homes.

December 2005: After being re-elected, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg reappoints Tino Hernandez as NYCHA's Chairman.

April 2006: NYCHA Chairman Tino Hernandez announces an aggressive seven-point "Plan to Preserve Public Housing" at a press conference at Central Offices at 90 Church Street  in response to recurring budget deficits.  Highlights of the Plan include an unprecedented $100 million allocation to NYCHA by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; a limited rent increase proposal for 27% of NYCHA households that already pay ceiling rent; and a proposal to use Section 8 funding to support the operations of 8,400 unfunded City and State built units allowing for the preservation of all of NYCHA's 21,000 non-federal units.

September 2006: NYCHA, HPD, HDC and Bronx Pro complete first affordable housing development, University Macombs Apartments in the Bronx, providing over 200 affordable units in the Morris Heights neighborhood.

Section 8 recipient

January 2007: Mayor Bloomberg and NYCHA announce the availability of 22,000 new housing vouchers in first reopening of the Section 8 waiting list in 12 years. 237,711 applications were filed in three months.

September 2007: Mayor Bloomberg appoints Board Member Margarita López as NYCHA's first Environmental Coordinator to advance the City's PlaNYC 2030 agenda within NYCHA, by spearheading green initiatives and policies.

October 2007: NYCHA begins the installation of energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lamps at developments citywide.

December 2007: NYCHA expands rent payment options for residents by allowing residents to pay rent electronically on NYCHA's official website.

August 8, 2008: The Public Housing Equal Treatment Act signed into law raising the amount the state of New York pays NYCHA for residents on public assistance the same amount it pays private landlords.

September 2008: NYCHA secured approval from HUD of its Section 8 Transition Program proposal to fund 8,400 unsubsidized apartments in State- and City-built developments with Section 8 vouchers, creating a new permanent revenue stream for NYCHA.

September 2008: Wachovia Bank and Capital One Bank join Carver Federal Bank, as financial institutions that accept in-bank rent payments from NYCHA residents.

December 2008: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg appoints NYCHA's General Counsel, Ricardo Elias Morales as interim Chairman of the Housing Authority.

February 17, 2009: NYCHA celebrates its 75th anniversary. The theme for this milestone anniversary is "Keeping the Promise."

June 2009: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg appoints John B. Rhea as NYCHA's 21st Chairman.

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LaGuardia and Wagner Archives (external site)