I am honored to serve as the New York City Housing Authority’s new Chair & Chief Executive Officer. As the country’s oldest and largest public housing authority, NYCHA, despite the many challenges it faces, remains an invaluable public asset, an affordable housing resource which is vital to the success of New York City and its citizens. We New Yorkers believe in preserving public housing. New York has and will continue to invest in maintaining and improving ours.
On March 3, 2014, I kicked off my listening tour at our Middletown Plaza development and senior center in the Bronx. As I visit more developments and sites in the coming months, we will continue to develop affirmative and innovative solutions for ensuring public housing’s survival and legacy.
Mayor de Blasio recently affirmed this commitment to public housing, by announcing that the balance of NYCHA’s 2014 payment for police services would be redirected, so that $52 million will be spent instead on addressing badly needed maintenance and repair in the homes of NYCHA residents. This is a fantastic down payment toward NYCHA’s long-term capital needs. It also signifies the Mayor’s effort to consider the needs of public housing residents as part of his affordable housing plan.
New Yorkers believe that our city cannot continue to be great unless it has a place for its workers to live. This means investing in a public housing system which provides affordable homes for the teachers, nurses, firefighters, school custodians, paramedics, police officers, and many others who keep this city running. And New Yorkers recognize the return on their investment: As an economic engine for the city and the region, NYCHA pumps $1.70 into our economy for every $1.00 received, translating into $6 billion in economic output annually.
And we know that NYCHA residents are the bedrock of our communities. My late grandmother worked as a housekeeper and was a resident of Albany Houses in Brooklyn. Growing up, I would often take a bus with my mother to visit. That home made a huge difference in my grandmother’s life and provided peace of mind to my family.
At the announcement of my appointment, I outlined three objectives for our work together. As I continue on my listening tour over the next several weeks, I want to hear from you about how we can best achieve those goals.
First, with your help, we will restore and rebuild NYCHA. We will keep our buildings safe, continue to work on completing repairs in a timely manner, and ensure capital projects keep our buildings in good shape. We will rebuild trust with residents and employees through open and transparent communication.
Next, we will ensure a green and sustainable NYCHA. More than eight percent of the city’s rental apartments are in NYCHA developments. Making our buildings more sustainable has a significant impact on the city. We must work together to develop a plan to green and retrofit existing buildings because it is the right thing to do for the health of our residents and the entire city, and it is the prudent thing to do for our long-term financial health.
Finally, we must create a thoughtful and practical development plan that benefits residents, reconnects our buildings to their communities, and contributes to the Mayor's affordable housing plan through a collaborative and disciplined approach. Mayor de Blasio is committed to preserving and expanding affordable housing throughout New York City, and NYCHA is a central component of his five-year plan to create or preserve 200,000 affordable housing units. This is an extraordinary opportunity for our city and for NYCHA.
This is indeed a promising time for NYCHA. Resident quality of life is improving as a result of reduced maintenance and repair backlogs. Capital infrastructure projects are underway across the city to modernize our buildings and make them more resilient. We are clearly demonstrating that NYCHA’s future is one of promise and success – a future that will benefit our residents, employees, neighborhoods, and city. Thank you for helping to make that happen.
Chair & Chief Executive Officer