HOUSING AUTHORITY ASKS FOR FREEDOM FROM FEDERAL REGS

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The Giuliani administration is likely to ask Washington to exempt the city from all public housing regulations–including prohibitions against selling buildings to private owners, anti-eviction protections and rent caps for the poor, City Limits has learned.

The deregulation plan could radically reshape the authority, which provides affordable housing for 160,000 New York families. New York City Housing Authority staffers and tenant advocates say NYCHA Chairman Ruben Franco has decided to go ahead with the request, which must be filed with federal HUD officials by May 17.

Last fall, City Limits reported the Giuliani administration had quietly pushed for a federal law singling New York out for public housing deregulation. After Congress defeated that measure, the GOP went on to pass an appropriations bill containing a little-noticed provision for a deregulation “demonstration” project in 30 cities, for which applications must be made.

Publicly, authority chairman Ruben Franco has said he has not decided if he will file the application. But that’s not the line he’s touting privately. “I asked Franco if they were going ahead with this and he told me ‘Yes, we’re very interested and we’re probably going to apply,'” says Sarah Hovde, housing policy analyst at the Community Service Society.

Squeezed by decreasing public housing operating subsidies, NYCHA is scrambling to cut costs and raise revenues. Last week, all four Democratic candidates for mayor–Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger, Brooklyn Councilman Sal Albanese, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Bronx Borough Presdient Fernando Ferrer–announced their opposition to deregulation.