September 24, 2012. New York City Housing Authority Chairman John B. Rhea today unveiled new initiatives that would bring hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to the Housing Authority to help maintain and preserve public housing in New York City. At a breakfast sponsored by the Association for a Better New York, Chairman Rhea detailed a major plan to build new, private housing at NYCHA developments. The plan would create at least 1,000 permanently affordable housing units for low- and moderate-income families. The new developments would not displace any NYCHA residents and will bring millions of dollars each year to the Housing Authority that would go towards providing safe, secure and well-maintained housing for NYCHA residents at the sites and throughout the city.
“This project is a landmark in the evolution of NYCHA, and one that recognizes two important realities,” said NYCHA Chairman John Rhea. “The first is that the days of adequate federal funding are over. We need to solve NYCHA’s challenges ourselves. The second is that thanks to dramatic improvements in public safety and quality of life achieved under Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership throughout the City and in NYCHA communities specifically, our communities are no longer considered off-limits to development.”
This new initiative would offer NYCHA-owned sites for the development of market rate and affordable housing, and, in some cases, ground-floor commercial and retail development. The sites would be under long-term leases to developers that will provide stable, predictable cash flow to NYCHA to fund its operations and capital programs. All development would take place on land not currently occupied by housing, and no buildings would be demolished or residents displaced. This initiative will create thousands of construction and permanent jobs.
After NYCHA has engaged residents, elected officials, and other community leaders, the Housing Authority will finalize a list of new sites and, early in 2013, release a Request for Proposals seeking development on these sites.
Chairman Rhea also announced a proposal to utilize $500 million from a capital fund bond issued under HUD’s Capital Fund Financing Program to pay for desperately needed, comprehensively executed roof and brickwork repairs over the next 12 to 36 months. Another benefit will be improved resident safety through the elimination of miles of sidewalk shedding, which is not only unsightly, but also often imposing and ominous. Complete roof replacement, together with facade work, such as like brick and sill replacement and parapet reconstruction, is planned at approximately 350 buildings in over 40 developments in all five boroughs. The funds would become available by the first quarter of next year.
A third initiative would involve NYCHA performing energy audits on a large portion of its portfolio beginning in the next 18 months, arguably the most ambitious effort of this kind ever undertaken by a single landlord. This energy performance contract will reinforce NYCHA’s role as a driver of economic activity by creating jobs and developing industry, and will provide a template for energy efficiency that the Housing Authority and other landlords can follow in the years to come. Even a 10 percent reduction in the half-billion dollars a year NYCHA spends on energy would support $50 million in annual debt service. There would be the potential to finance $2 billion in upgrades for boilers, roofs and windows for NYCHA developments through the savings.
Concluding his remarks, Chairman Rhea called on ABNY members to become part of an advisory group called “New Yorkers for NYCHA” as a way to embed within NYCHA’s culture an institutionalized method for encouraging civic engagement and to ensure a broad coalition of leadership that is vested in NYCHA’s health and continued existence.