The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the nation’s largest public housing agency, today urged Washington to approve the pending economic stimulus package with spending measures that will stimulate the economy and provide much-needed capital funds for public housing. Funding for the entire package may reach $330 billion with the possibility of $5 billion going to increase assistance for the Public Housing Capital Fund nationwide. NYCHA’s share of this could be $650 million.
In addition to other much-needed capital projects across the nation, the proposed stimulus package should include public housing infrastructure projects in New York City that can commence quickly following enactment of the bill. Passage of the bill would add resources to ongoing capital projects to upgrade and modernize building systems and infrastructure, while at the same time create employment opportunities for New York City residents.
“The time frame to urge Members of Congress to strongly support the passage of this bill is extremely short,” said NYCHA Chairman Tino Hernandez. “Elected officials need to be engaged immediately so that their voices are heard.” Congress returned to Washington on November 17 for a final legislative session to consider the stimulus package, which presents a one-time opportunity to increase assistance for the Public Housing Capital Fund.
A recent study of the capital needs of the New York City Housing Authority by Parsons Brinckerhoff, one of the world’s leading planning, engineering and construction management firms, concluded that NYCHA’s capital needs backlog is estimated at nearly $6 billion. Persistent federal underfunding over the past seven years has led to a loss to NYCHA of $502 million in capital assistance.
Investment in public housing is a proven multiplier, stimulating economic activity in the locality. A recent study by Econsult Corporation determined that for every dollar spent on capital and maintenance projects, $2.12 in economic activity is generated in the surrounding community1, which includes creation of much-needed jobs. With the $500 million in capital projects that can be quickly undertaken at NYCHA developments, plus the value of current capital projects, the Authority can create $3.174 billion in economic activity within New York City.
Chairman Hernandez urges NYCHA residents and other stakeholders who support the preservation of public housing, and who recognize the need for increased capital funding, to reach out to Senators Schumer and Clinton as well as the entire New York State Congressional Delegation to call for their support of this legislation. Hernandez has also written to leaders in the Senate and House to convey the critical need for their support in securing this crucial funding.
Chairman Hernandez noted a clear need for investment in public housing because it is a vital part of the nation’s infrastructure and it preserves a major asset for communities across the country. “Capital Fund projects create jobs in the very sectors of the economy that have taken the biggest hit during the housing crisis,” Hernandez stated. “And where funding targets public housing, it also leads to employment opportunities for qualified public housing residents,” he added. According to the Building & Construction Trades Council, $500 million in new capital spending results in an estimated 3,500 new jobs.
The proposed stimulus bill would allow NYCHA to accelerate major capital projects that might otherwise be deferred which could include renovation of facades and brickwork, elevator upgrades and modernization, electrical upgrades and energy efficiencies as well as interior renovations like replacing kitchens, doors and painting apartments.
“There would be an added benefit from the passage of this economic stimulus package. Since public housing capital projects utilize green building technology, this leads to an improved environment and energy efficient improvements that will expand the “green-collar” job sector,” said Hernandez.