The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has completed an unprecedented
effort to gather residents’ ideas and opinions on their experiences living in
public housing in New York City. To better understand the needs and expectations
of NYCHA’s diverse population, including Section 8 residents, the Authority
conducted focus groups and a phone survey, the most complete resident research
effort undertaken by a public housing authority. The effort is a key part of
the Plan to Preserve Public Housing, NYCHA’s comprehensive
five-year vision that will serve as a vital roadmap for addressing current
services and quality of life concerns, as well as other challenges in the
NYCHA held 16 focus groups across all five boroughs, recruiting
residents through several methods including random selection and whether they
participate in associations or activities. NYCHA also worked
with community-based organizations to find participants. The focus groups were
made up of different demographics, including Resident Association leaders,
residents who also work for NYCHA and Section 8 participants; some focus were
held in Spanish, Russian or Cantonese.
The focus groups were led by a research firm, so participants could feel
comfortable speaking freely and remain anonymous. Residents discussed their
experiences living in NYCHA or Section 8. They talked about NYCHA’s perceived
strengths and weaknesses and programs and services available to NYCHA
communities, and shared their opinions on ways that NYCHA can generate more
revenue in the future to help balance its budget and improve frontline
The phone survey featured a wide-ranging questionnaire with 61
questions. More than 1,000 residents and more than 600
Section 8 participants, chosen at random, took part in the phone survey. The
survey measured whether residents are satisfied with NYCHA, how NYCHA handles
repairs and if they feel that NYCHA is a safe place to live and raise children.
Topics also included how NYCHA manages emergencies, whether residents make use
of available social services and what residents think the impression is that
other New Yorkers have of NYCHA.
The results of the focus groups and phone survey are being
compiled and will be released later this year. The results will be summarized in
a future issue of the NYCHA News e-newsletter.