Despite a tight fiscal climate, the city’s housing agency has maintained — and even strengthened — its efforts to preserve New York’s housing stock, according to a report released last week by the Independent Budget Office.
Since 1999, the department of Housing Preservation and Development’s spending on housing preservation has grown from $125 million to nearly $189 million, according to the study. The biggest increases were found in the agency’s emergency repairs bureau, which fixes maintenance problems like broken boilers — that budget doubled in size — and housing inspection efforts, which have jumped from $15 million to $21 million.
In addition, HPD is now investing millions in the city’s last-resort program for dealing with troubled buildings — third party transfer, through which the agency hands buildings with big tax debts over to handpicked private landlords or community-based nonprofits, and provides substantial subsidies to fix up and maintain as affordable apartments. This year, third party transfer will cost the city about $46 million, the IBO says.
For HPD, the report illuminates a shift in the agency’s mission: a movement away from maintaining its stock of city-owned buildings, which is nearly depleted, towards supporting the preservation of privately owned housing. “We can never go back to the abandonment that took place in the 1970s and ’80s,” said First Deputy Commissioner John Warren. “Preservation is job number one.”