The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has unveiled its 5-year strategic plan called Plan NYCHA: A Roadmap for Preservation. Plan NYCHA is a call to action to ensure that public housing remains available for current and future generations of New Yorkers. NYCHA faces unprecedented challenges – from overwhelming funding shortages; to an aging and decaying housing stock; to a growing wait list of almost 161,000 families for public housing, and about 125,000 families awaiting a Section 8 voucher. The Authority is leading the charge to meet these obstacles head on with new initiatives already underway, but with an understanding that a major transformation is needed both within the NYCHA organization and throughout the supporting environment, joining in collaboration to preserve New York City public housing.
“Plan NYCHA is an ambitious call to foster partnerships and maintain and improve NYCHA services,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “With both local and federal government budgets tight, nonprofit and private sector organizations can help public housing achieve fiscal stability and strengthen our communities. Through these efforts, we are confident we can increase economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for NYCHA’s more than 600,000 residents. Our Administration is committed to investing in public housing.”
“We will succeed only through partnerships and new strategies to provide tailored support to our residents. We want to be flexible enough to deal with today’s realities of our more diverse customer needs, but not lose sight of our fundamental goals: to see families transition out of public housing and be self-sufficient,” said NYCHA Chairman John B. Rhea. “For those we do serve, we need broad-based support from all public housing stakeholders in government, in the non-profit community and in the private sector, to maintain our commitment to our core mission. As laid out in this call to action, we are prepared to do our part, and we hope others will join us in this noble effort to support NYC’s families.”
NYCHA also has had an unprecedented financial crisis: Since 2002, NYCHA has received $700 million less in operating subsidies than its federal funding formula requires. Similarly, despite an escalating need for funding to repair and maintain apartments and buildings, NYCHA’s capital subsidies have been cut by a third over the past decade. These crises have resulted in a structural operating deficit and a $13 billion capital shortfall through 2015.
Already, NYCHA has taken initial steps even within severe budget constraints towards improving life for public housing for residents:
- In June NYCHA launched the Work Order Task Force (WOTF) to strategically tackle the Authority’s significant work order back log and reduce repair wait times. Targeting NYCHA developments with the highest number of work orders per apartment, labor teams were assigned to complete as many repairs within an apartment during the least amount of visits. To date, the taskforce has successfully completed over 33,000 work orders, in 8,482 apartments at 17 developments citywide. Because of this effort, there were more than 90,000 more work orders completed in 2011 than in 2010, a 6 percent increase.
- NYCHA’s Safety and Security Task Force identified the need to secure building entrances as critical to improving development security and resident safety. Taking a multi-pronged approach the Authority will enhance building access controls and incorporate updated closed-circuit TV cameras (CCTV) technology at select developments in 2012. Work will also begin on six contracts for $40 million for layered access control and/or CCTV surveillance system installations at various developments throughout the city.
- NYCHA’s Resident Training Academy, developed in partnership with and funding from Robin Hood ($1.2 million to date), is an example of how NYCHA can leverage its assets and the power of public-private partnerships to support residents. The Training Academy offers a variety of employment-linked training to assist participants in building technical and professional skills to best position them for future careers; there was an 89 percent job placement rate in year 1 (2011), and Robin Hood and NYCHA have increased investment in the initiative. NYCHA also has reaffirmed its commitment to fostering resident economic success and mobility by maximizing access to jobs either at the agency or with NYCHA’s contractors (Section 3 hiring). Having experienced unprecedented growth in Section 3 outcomes in 2010, NYCHA continued to move forward with nearly 800 Section 3 placements in 2011, a significant increase over the 623 Section 3 job placements in 2010.
Although recent years have brought unparalleled fiscal challenges for NYCHA, it strives to preserve the 178,000 units of affordable housing and create new stock. In addition, NYCHA is now serving a broader population—seniors aging in place, individuals with disabilities and the chronic unemployed and underemployed—with needs that go well beyond housing.
There has been an increasing reliance of NYCHA residents on a wide range of community and social service programs that are often a lifeline to residents, especially children, teens, single parent households, seniors, and families in crisis. Thousands of residents use these services that directly cost NYCHA more than $75 million each year, with only $12 million funded by grants.
Plan NYCHA delineates how sustained, meaningful collaboration can ensure that public housing, an invaluable resource, will not be diminished and issues a call to action to NYCHA residents, employees, city agencies, elected officials, activists and stakeholders to work together to overcome those challenges facing public housing in NYC.
Through a transparent and inclusive planning process in developing Plan NYCHA, the Authority engaged thousands of staff, residents, and resident leaders, including the Citywide Council of Presidents; as well as partners across the City and country to solicit ideas and seek guidance, as the Authority developed its ambitious roadmap for the future.
“We, the residents and NYCHA, want to create a new image of public housing – one where we are engaged in a conversation in the public and private sector and we are acknowledged as contributors to the metropolitan community,” said Reginald Bowman, President of the Citywide Council of Presidents (CCOP), a resident leaders group. “NYCHA is an economic engine and infrastructure for this great city. We are also part of building the future, as we always have been.”
Despite today’s challenges, NYCHA’s original 1934 mission remains unwavering: to increase opportunities for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers by providing safe, affordable housing and facilitating access to social and community services. The Authority is rising to this call of duty, and calling on support from others to preserve public housing for future generations of New Yorkers.
To download Plan NYCHA, please go to www.nyc.gov/nycha.
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About the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)
NYCHA provides decent and affordable housing in a safe and secure living environment for low and moderate- income residents throughout the five boroughs. To fulfill this mission, NYCHA must preserve its aging housing stock through timely maintenance and modernization of its developments. NYCHA also administers a citywide Section 8 Leased Housing Program in rental apartments. Simultaneously, we work to enhance the quality of life at NYCHA by offering our residents opportunities to participate in a multitude of community, educational and recreational programs, as well as job readiness and training initiatives.