New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chairman John Rhea today presented findings from two economic impact studies to a Ford Foundation audience. The first report demonstrates that NYCHA is an economic engine that sustains 30,000 jobs in New York City and State and contributes $6 billion annually through all of its spending activities to the local economies. The second report estimates that it would cost $17 billion to bring all of NYCHA’s public housing stock to a state of good repair, while tearing down and rebuilding all of public housing would escalate those costs to $66 billion. The New York-based firm HR&A Advisors, Inc. prepared the reports. These findings further underscore why public housing and the people it serves must continue to receive support – both to fulfill NYCHA’s mission to provide decent and affordable housing to low- and moderate-income residents of New York City and for its substantial economic returns to New York’s economy.
“As first presented in 2011 in our strategic roadmap, Plan NYCHA, the Authority benefits all New Yorkers, not just those who rely on it for their homes,” said Chairman Rhea. “While it’s clear that NYCHA contributes to New York’s economy at every level, it must be noted that our programs of workforce training, direct employment, job placement, education and a host of financial planning services help provide crucial resources to families that keep local neighborhoods thriving. Public housing and rental assistance provide families with secure, stable and affordable housing so that they can earn, spend and save – benefitting their families, and the local economy.”
HR&A measured NYCHA’s economic impact in terms of full-time equivalent employment, employee compensation and economic output in the City and State. Economic output includes the value of all industry production resulting from NYCHA’s direct spending, organized into capital expenditures associated with physical repairs and improvements; maintenance and operating expenditures associated with NYCHA-owned housing stock and infrastructure; central office administration and operations; and the Leased Housing Program (Section 8), which provides rental subsidies for residents in privately owned housing.
The reports’ findings concluded that NYCHA sustains 30,000 jobs annually, of which 12,000 work for NYCHA. These jobs are sustained full time by NYCHA’s annual expenditures. Among the Authority’s residents who report employment, 19 percent work for either the City, State or federal government.
The report found that along with $1 billion spent annually on utilities, supplies, construction, etc., NYCHA’s overall impact results in more than $6 billion in economic activity annually in the City and State. Of that, $2.2 billion is related to the economic impact of the Section 8 voucher program. In addition, the report shows that every dollar NYCHA spends creates $1.70 of total output in New York City; this figure is $1.80 when including statewide impact. As a result, NYCHA’s average annual cash expenditures of about $3.4 billion result in nearly $5.9 billion in economic activity in New York City, and another $270 million in economic activity elsewhere in the State.
In order to understand the value of preserving this critical asset, NYCHA took a look at the cost of rehabilitating its buildings to a state of good repair compared to the cost of replacing all of the buildings. While other large cities have torn down, dismantled and replaced most of their public housing with far fewer low-income housing units, New York City has maintained most of its public housing stock, even in the face of continued federal defunding. NYCHA owns and operates 179,000 apartments in 334 developments consisting of 2,600 buildings housing more than 400,000 residents. If all of NYCHA’s developments were torn down and rebuilt, the cost would be $66 billion at a cost of $370,000 per apartment. In contrast, bringing all of NYCHA public housing to a state of good repair would cost an estimated $17 billion, or $99,000 per apartment.
HR&A is a real estate, economic development and energy-efficiency consulting firm that has conducted economic impact studies of organizations across the United States for three decades. HR&A, along with BJH Advisors LLC, which performs independent economic analyses for both public and private sector clients, worked together to produce the findings. The completed reports can be found on NYCHA’s website at www.nyc.gov/nycha .
Chairman Rhea, along with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, participated in a conference whose theme was Re-Imagining Public Housing: Beyond the Bricks and Mortar . The gathering included public housing leaders and stakeholders and was co-sponsored by the Ford Foundation and the National Public Housing Museum, which is based in Chicago.