FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 28, 2023
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New York State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, New York State Senator Brian Kavanagh, Other State Legislators, NYCHA Leaders, and Residents Rally — Calling on New York State to Fund Emergency Rental Assistance for Public Housing Tenants
New York was the only state in the nation to de-prioritize residents living in subsidized housing for COVID-related rental assistance
NYCHA has submitted more than $128 million in applications for 33,000 NYCHA households with COVID-related arrears
With rent constituting one-third of NYCHA’s operating budget, this funding is essential for continued progress on the pillars of the HUD Agreement, while also ensuring that public housing residents have access to the same benefits as other New Yorkers
NEW YORK – Today, New York State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, Chair of the New York State Assembly Committee on Housing; New York State Senator Brian Kavanagh, Chair of the Senate Committee on Housing, Construction, and Community Development; New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Interim CEO Lisa Bova-Hiatt; Daniel Barber and the Citywide Council of Presidents (CCOP); and NYCHA residents were joined by other legislators, housing advocates, and public housing authorities from across the State for a rally in Albany to advocate for Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funding for public housing residents in the State budget. While tenants of privately owned buildings were able to access ERAP funds to help cover rent during the COVID-19 pandemic, NYCHA tenants and subsidized housing residents in New York were initially excluded from receiving that funding. Both the Senate and Assembly have now proposed adding funding to the Fiscal Year 2024 budget to provide significant economic relief to these households, who accumulated rent arrears during the COVID-19 crisis. NYCHA submitted more than $128 million worth of ERAP applications on behalf of over 33,000 households, and NYCHA households with pending ERAP applications have amassed more than $240 million in rent arrears without additional assistance.
“NYCHA residents work every day to build a better future for themselves, their kids, and their families, and they deserve safe, high-quality, affordable homes while doing so,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “NYCHA residents have a champion in me, and I will work hand-in-hand with our partners in Albany to get this done.”
"When tenants across the nation were provided critically needed relief from rent arrears during the pandemic, NYCHA tenants were left behind. We believe our partners in Albany share the goal of supporting NYCHA tenants, and were pleased to see both the Senate and Assembly include ERAP funding for public housing in their proposed budgets," said Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz. "We're heartened to see a coalition of tenants, public officials, and housing authorities statewide join forces for this cause.”
“As we continue to engage our State partners and advocate for this much-needed funding, we remain hopeful that our tenants will be treated like their friends and neighbors who were afforded this COVID-related relief,” said NYCHA Interim CEO Lisa Bova-Hiatt. “Providing emergency rental assistance to NYCHA residents is not only a matter of equity but is also imperative to the Authority’s ability to keep prioritizing the pillars of the HUD Agreement amid a tremendous rise in tenant arrears and a growing $40 billion capital need. Assembly Speaker Heastie and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins stood up for public housing tenants and included funding in their budgets; now we must all work together to make sure that the funding is in the final budget due in April. We are grateful for all of the advocacy related to this matter, from those who understand the critical role of public housing in New York City.”
"Residents of NYCHA and public housing across the State experienced the same financial difficulties as other tenants during the pandemic that left them unable to pay rent, but when the Emergency Rental Assistance Program was launched, they were relegated to the back of the line," said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF - Manhattan), Chair of the Assembly Housing Committee. "ERAP funding has proven to be a lifeline for tenants and landlords alike, but without money in the final budget to begin to cover the arrears accumulated by these residents, public housing authorities statewide will be forced to dip into reserves, never a good option. If there is no funding in the State and City budgets to pay rent arrears, public housing authorities will be forced to take drastic actions such as pulling back on repairs, laying off staff, and other measures. Over the next week, I'll be fighting tooth and nail to ensure NYCHA and other public housing tenants get the relief they need."
“It is long past time for New York State to meet the emergency needs of residents of public housing who have been relegated to last-in-line status for ERAP funding due to an unjust provision deprioritizing these New Yorkers’ applications,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh, Chair of the Senate Housing Committee, who passed legislation in the Senate last year that would have repealed the law that deprioritizes NYCHA residents. “We know that public housing residents accrued rent arrears because they were unable to pay due to job losses, increased costs, and other hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic—just like so many other New Yorkers. They shouldn’t be forced to bear the burden of this debt, nor should NYCHA’s financial stability be further jeopardized, simply because these tenants weren’t placed on equal footing with their fellow New Yorkers. I thank everyone who has joined the push for this critical funding, especially Danny Barber and the other leaders on the Citywide Council of Presidents, all of the residents who have advocated on behalf of themselves and their neighbors, NYCHA Interim CEO Lisa Bova-Hiatt, Assembly Housing Chair Linda Rosenthal, Assemblymember Grace Lee, and our colleagues in the Legislature who supported including funding in our budget resolutions, and the broad coalition of organizations and individuals who understand that basic fairness requires that we address this injustice without further delay.”
“The Emergency Rental Assistance Program was designed to help families stay in their homes, but it did not provide a penny of relief to residents in public housing,” said Assemblymember Grace Lee. “In this year’s budget, we have an obligation to provide families in public housing the security they deserve by fully funding ERAP. I was proud to join Assemblymembers Eddie Gibbs and Latrice Walker to lead the budget letter ensuring $385 million in funding for ERAP was included in the Assembly’s one-house proposal, and I will continue to fight with them to see this money included in the final budget.”
“The residents of public housing are hoping that the Governor comes around and gives the money needed for ERAP to avoid the process of having to put the residents into the street,” said Chair of the Citywide Council of Presidents (CCOP) Daniel Barber. “The Governor understands the importance; she knows the residents, and we’ll see what happens when the budget comes out.”
Rent payments are critical to NYCHA’s operations because they fund one-third of the Authority’s operating budget. While the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) expects public housing authorities to collect 100 percent of the rent, NYCHA is only collecting 65 percent of rent over a 12-month period and HUD does not provide an increase in operating subsidy to bridge the funding gap. Rent can also not be forgiven by public housing authorities, per HUD regulations. As of the end of the 2022 calendar year, NYCHA’s tenant arrears totaled $466 million across more than 73,000 households, having nearly quadrupled since 2019. In 2023, NYCHA expects to collect approximately $850 million in rent, about $150 million less than it should be collecting.
NYCHA has taken several proactive financial measures in its 2023 budget, including prioritizing stable funding for property management contracts and staffing and, where possible, allocating increases for the pillar areas of its 2019 agreement with HUD; cutting central office contracts and reducing vacant central office positions; and submitting an operating subsidy appeal to HUD to fund mandated HUD Agreement environmental expenses. NYCHA anticipates a $35 million deficit in the 2023 budget.
NYCHA has relied heavily on operating reserves to improve services and meet the demands of the HUD Agreement. The 2022 budget included a $100 million draw from reserves, and the 2023 budget includes a $65 million withdrawal. At the end of 2022, NYCHA had less than one month of operating reserves remaining (HUD recommends three to four months of reserves for a public housing authority NYCHA's size).
The mounting losses in rent revenue, along with a growing $40 billion capital need, increasing costs due to higher consumption and global market volatility, high overtime, and rising 2019 HUD Agreement expenses, puts NYCHA in a precarious financial position. Without additional funding or an increase in tenant rent payments, NYCHA will be forced to significantly cut expenses and decrease property repairs beginning in 2024, which could impact repairs required for HUD Agreement compliance.
About the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the largest public housing authority in North America, was created in 1935 to provide decent, affordable housing for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. NYCHA is home to roughly 1 in 16 New Yorkers across over 177,000 apartments within 335 housing developments. NYCHA serves over 339,000 residents through the conventional public housing program (Section 9), over 29,000 residents at developments that have been converted to PACT/RAD, and over 92,000 families through federal rent subsidies (the Section 8 Leased Housing Program). In addition, NYCHA connects residents to opportunities in financial empowerment, business development, career advancement, and educational programs. With a housing stock that spans all five boroughs, NYCHA is a city within a city.