With 62,000 units already effectively moving off the authority’s books under NYCHA 2.0, this new ‘Blueprint for Change’ addresses NYCHA’s other 110,000 apartments—which together need a $25 billion repair job.

NYCHA

Adi Talwar

The Gun Hill Houses in the Bronx, as seem from the 2/5 platform along White Plains Road. NYCHA believes it has come up with a way to shift its entire portfolio off the traditional (and for decades unreliable) public-housing funding stream.

On July 28, the New York City Housing Authority announced a sweeping reorganization to address the gaping repair needs and service gaps affecting hundreds of thousands of tenants at hundreds of developments around the city.

It’s at least the fourth major NYCHA rescue plan since Bill de Blasio became mayor, and it involves a complex set of big changes. Here are some of the basics:

What’s the problem NYCHA is facing?

According to Chairman Gregory Russ, NYCHA needs an estimated $18 billion to satisfy an agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and achieve basic housing quality standards for 110,000 apartment units. The $18 billion includes $9.5 billion to address mold including the replacement of pipes, full kitchens, baths and ventilation; $1 billion for lead abatement; $4.1 billion to improve heat delivery; $1.6 billion to reduce elevator outages; $370 million towards pest control and waste management and another $1.4 billion towards improving public safety through installing closed circuit television and strengthening main door security. Yet another $7 billion is needed to address a full rehabilitation of community centers and grounds as well as the exterior cladding of residential buildings. That mean’s NYCHA needs about $25 billion. This is a result of aging buildings, reduced support from the federal, state and city governments for a number of years, and management failures within NYCHA.

Hasn’t the city already launched a NYCHA rescue plan?

More than one. Early in his mayoralty, Mayor de Blasio launched NextGen NYCHA, a plan to revamp management practices and generate revenue by building mixed-income and affordable housing on what the city deemed underused NYCHA land, and by using new federal programs to shift NYCHA apartments over to Section 8, a more stable source of federal funding. Those efforts were largely eclipsed by the lead paint scandal of 2018.

After threats of a federal takeover, last January the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development agreed to a federal monitor for NYCHA, and the city promised to spend billions to correct maintenance failures. Meanwhile, the de Blasio administration issued NYCHA 2.0, which again called for developing land. It also called for selling air rights over NYCHA property to raise more money, and converting a third of the authority’s apartments—some 62,000—to Section 8 via the Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT), which also puts those units under private management.

OK, so what does this new plan do?

With 62,000 units already effectively moving off the authority’s books under NYCHA 2.0, this new ‘Blueprint for Change’ addresses NYCHA’s other 110,000 apartments—which together need a $25 billion repair job. It basically involves creating a new entity, called a preservation trust, to control NYCHA’s buildings, tapping into a different federal funding source to generate a revenue stream, and using that revenue stream as collateral to borrow money to pay for the repairs.

What’s a preservation trust and why is it useful?

The Public Housing Preservation Trust would have a similar structure to the city’s School Construction Authority model. NYCHA Chair and CEO Gregory Russ said the trust’s procurement structure would give NYCHA some flexibility to craft construction-management deals appropriate to the scale of work that needs to be done.

“What we’re trying to do is say, when we compete, we want the flexibility to compete for a design-build. We want the flexibility to compete in an alternative way for construction manager at risk. These are construction or design techniques that are pretty powerful in terms of expediting and managing these large construction projects, Russ said. “It’s not trying to diminish competition, it’s trying to make the competition that occurs more valuable as a product when it comes to construction and construction management,” said Russ. Design-build and “construction manager at risk” are methods of project management.

Under the plan, NYCHA would enter into a long-term ground lease with the trust. In return, the trust would have oversight on construction, infrastructure improvements and NYCHA staff who would continue to maintain and manage the properties. The plan is for the trust to be controlled by a board with nine members, five appointed by NYCHA, four by City Hall, and with four resident leaders among them.

Russ said procurement would be bound by the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 which requires contractors and subcontractors to pay laborers and mechanics employed under the contract no less than the local prevailing wages and fringe benefits, according to the U.S Department of Labor. 

Will NYCHA still exist?

Yes. While the trust would have a long-term lease on the buildings and focus on bigger repairs, NYCHA would still own the buildings and land, and would handle management and day-to-day maintenance.

Where will the money come from?

The plan hinges on all 110,000 apartments being in bad enough shape that they qualify for a federal “tenant protection voucher.” According to NYCHA, tenant protection vouchers (TPVs) are one of HUD’s most valuable vouchers, worth more than two times more than other federal funding sources. And since vouchers are a reliable income stream, the preservation trust could float bonds against it, use the voucher payments to service that debt, and apply the bond proceeds to pay for repairs. NYCHA estimates that for every $1 in federal TPV subsidy, the authority could complete over $6 in capital repairs.

How will NYCHA decide what work to do where?

Also in the new strategy is a commitment to creating a comprehensive plan for every NYCHA property and every building.

What else does the plan include?

NYCHA says it will also be looking at the use of “green building technology for retrofits, which would drive down utility costs and decarbonize” NYCHA properties. And it says it will employ a “community-driven strategy” that would include investment in quality jobs to help with the city’s economic recovery. 

An ongoing theme in the Blueprint for Change is the need for a more robust “culture of service” to improve operations. For example, NYCHA is planning to realign property portfolios and management structure. In order to respond faster to conditions, the budget would shift towards property based budgeting and provide a central field office for support. NYCHA also plans on creating an efficient staffing and work schedule in order to respond better to residents. 

What rights will tenants have?

NYCHA says residents would maintain their rights and protections for perpetuity, including rent capped at 30 percent of household income. 

NYCHA says that the legislation creating the trust “will also include resident rights and protections as well as affordability standards, thus codifying them into state law.”

Does this plan need anyone’s approval?

In order for the plan to move forward, federal and state governments would have to be involved in the approval process which would include legislation. 

The Blueprint uses mechanisms contained in Section 18 of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 which allows a public housing agency to demolish and/or dispose of public housing with HUD approval if the units meet the criteria such as poor physical condition (obsolescence) of the units or unsuitable location with health or safety risks to residents. NYCHA would have to submit an application for each development to HUD’s Special Applications Center based in Chicago, which would review the plan and, if it approved the move, authorize the TPV vouchers.

On the state level, since NYCHA is a state authority, the state would be required to pass legislation to create the preservation trust for NYCHA. 

Who likes this idea?

In a statement, the Community Service Society of New York cautiously embraced the plan, saying that if it works, it will “restore decent living conditions to all developments in the next decade … without resorting to privatization or the construction of market rentals on NYCHA campuses.”

“This is an ambitious plan, which may encounter many hurdles, but it merits our encouragement and cautious support. Bear in mind it is, in a sense, a ‘worst-case strategy’ should nothing else work,” the CSS statement continued. If Washington turns over in the upcoming national election, a number of federal initiatives may also come to NYCHA’s rescue.”

“This is a promising new strategy to preserve public housing and the first solution we have seen to finance all 175,000 units in desperate need of repairs,” said Rachel Fee, executive director of New York Housing Conference. “It is comprehensive, including financing solutions, energy savings and full rehabilitation to correct deficiencies. It is a vision that residents can build on and political leaders should support.” 

What are the risks?

“There are several hurdles,” says Victor Bach, senior housing policy analyst for Community Service Society of New York. One is the need for state legislative approval. Another lurks in Washington D.C. Right now, Bach says, there is a surplus of tenant protection vouchers; whether that continues is the question. 

Historically, tenant protection vouchers (TPV) have remained more stable than public housing subsidies. However, if there are fewer tenant protection vouchers (TPV) available from HUD than NYCHA needs under the Blueprint for Change, Russ said NYCHA would have to go back to Congress for additional appropriation for tenant protection vouchers: “Even if HUD could cut a deal inside existing appropriations for, say , phase one, if we’re going to succeed, we have to come back to appropriations and say, ‘Look, we’re saying this is a national investment.’”

Russ aid it could be a hard sell, but the selling point is the upside for both the federal government and NYCHA: “If you invest in this property, now we’re moving this property in so many ways off the federal books, so to speak, the operating subsidy would change. There’d be no more capital appropriations. And over time, we could refinance these properties in a way that the current model does not allow us to do so we can continue to raise capital.”

Which party controls Congress and who is in the White House could be crucial to whether that sales job succeeds.

“I think if there is a [White House] administration turnover, the prospects are good whether through a public initiative or a more Democratic Congress,” says Bach.  

What are the unknowns?

“We are concerned about the enabling legislation which contains the key protections of the ongoing affordability—carrying along resident rights and protection. State and city enabling legislation and advocates should stay on the watch,” said Bach. “We should have assurances for resident rights and it should be a smooth transition.” 

32 thoughts on “Understanding NYCHA’s New Rescue Plan

    • It’s so sad after all these years nycha is still in the worst conditions with all the back and forth with who is going to do what meanwhile nycha is deteriorating and nothing is getting done for god sake someone please do something nycha residents dont deserve this kind of treatment some of nycha residents work hard why do we have to live like this it’s not fair nor is it right for us to be subject to this kind of injustice it seems as though nothing is ever going to get done why cause of our skin color our lives matter too

      • Democrats Run nyc almost forever. Yet these problems have existed administration after administration. Koch..Ditkins …Nevermind all those council people that good into our hood looking for our vote. Ive lived in ENY all my life its been the same

        • …thats the problem, alot of the buildings are already sold, seems, theyre sold individually or some crap like that, NYC still owns the property🤔

  1. Yes they need to Blow Mitchell housing up and blind it all over again those building R very much damage that can’t be fix I been there for 19 years the same thing still happing in my apartment water damage wall leaks. Door not fix iam danger living my daughters and sons be having very bad headaches and myself as well for years. I ask for an new door frame for years.. mold inside the walls. For years. I don’t want to live like this anymore I have grand babies. And kids. My health isn’t good living in this involvement none of us my daughter Developed brain Aneurysms for having so many headaches from being in the house My name is Ms. Deborah Brown from building 8 apt 1B. It’s very bad there we send money in this apartment trying to fix it up waste of money did new floor and look what happens…not happy living there I been ask for an Transfer for years. I need and 4 bedrooms..

    • Everything looks good on paper but NYCHA has been a disaster with no corrective end in sight. Aside from the incompetence of the NYCHA staff, you have residents that do not take care of their apartment or building. I have lived in NYCHA for over 40 years and it gets worse and worse. You have drug dealers, problematic tenet, marijuana/urine/feces throughout the hallway that is never addressed when its reported to the manager. On top of that, the caretakers do not take care of anything. The hallways never swept or mopped, the elevators and staircasss used as bathrooms and everything in the apartments are falling apart. I understand that we have it made because of the low rent that we pay with utilities included but that’s when residents should value what they have and take responsibility, which they do not. Anyway, the articles does not address any quality of life issues and lastly, they seem to be using the article as a political move because they state that the prospectd are very good with a democratic congress. Seems like NYCHA is trying to tell you on who you should vote for based on what they want. Do not let that sway you. Vote how you feel is right. Remember, all politicians promise you the world and give you nothing once they are in office so let your mind be your guide and do not be swayed just because NYCHA wants you to vote for democrats. You are who you are and whether you vote republican or democrat, it was your choice and not NYCHA’s.

      • I too have lived in my current NYCHA apartment for 40 years, and while my building is not as bad as what you describe, it suffers from neglect both in daily maintenance and in structural repairs. And as you say, the tenants who blatantly disregard basic rules for keeping the building clean like strewing household garbage all over instead of putting it down the compactor chutes, and using the stairwells and elevators as bathrooms! It’s a two way street, but for the last decade all paths lead to deterioration. It’s really a shame, because public housing was a beacon of stability and hope for low income families when it was first developed. Many of us despair, but we are trapped in these conditions, because this is the only affordable option for us.

    • Ms. Deborah, I too live in public housing in Kentucky and I guess I live in decent conditions compared to yours. Situations such as yours, should not be the norm for public housing… Anywhere. You have a friend in Kentucky sending you positive thoughts and prayers.

  2. DEAR: NYCHA
    STOP TALKING AND START FIXING ALREADY!!! ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. WE ARE TIRED OF GETTING SICK BECAUSE OF OUR APARTMENTS. FIX THEM NOW!!!

    SINCERELY,
    ALL NYCHA TENANTS

  3. I was appalled when I came home
    From work and found my annual
    Review certification. We are in a
    Global health crisis and all NYCHA thinks about is money.
    People are dying, sick, unemployed and being evicted
    And the person running NYCHA
    Is making 400,000 a year for
    What. Here I am a 30 year
    City worker working in NYPD
    Putting my life on the line cannot
    Social discount because I am told
    I am an essential worker not
    Getting extra money and living
    In Lafayette Gardens brooklyn
    Where on August 9 there was
    A shoot out in front of my
    Building in District 35 no one
    Is talking about and NYCHA is
    Wasting tax payers dollars again
    The residents are not getting
    The repairs done there is no
    Public safety. We are living in
    Hell and I have to do an Annual
    Review so my rent can go up
    Because it never goes down.
    I may not even be working
    Because the city is laying off
    Thousands of workers. I am a
    Single parent an under earner
    Making under 50,000 I say
    NYCHA needs to be shut down
    It’s a disgrace to the residents .
    I do not believe in this so called
    Project it sounds to good to be
    True. Lafayette Gardens is a
    Block seven buildings and we
    Never get the help we need the
    Development is in shambles
    The staff is lazy a mess
    Dont know how to do basic
    Repairs when is this nightmare
    Going to end. This development
    Is in District 35 the Majority
    Leader district who runs around
    Talking about defunding the
    Police. How about helping us
    Do our jobs and making sure
    We live in safe clean livable
    Communities. My contact
    Is 646 929 5876 if any one
    Want to discuss this matter
    Further I live in brooklyn
    New York. All I ask is a better
    Place to live my daughter deserves and all the tenants
    Deserve better. Please help
    Us my email is
    tbellgarcia@gmail.com

  4. While I agree on some of the plans for nycha but having someone over the Federal government who doesn’t care about low income people how could this plan possibly make it through I believe if this plan is submitted after the election hoping the armour guard will change then this probably will work. Also since people are out of work this will be a great opportunity for getting there help off course paying them but it would offer a lot of knowledgeable experience for people who have the craftsmanship to do the job. Good luck

  5. Just rebuild the projects building by building that’s a better plan
    Oh and getting the people who hurt me and my kids and grandchildren not giving them money in limos getting away from us on housing grounds don’t you think that’s a better plan cause I do thank you Dalia

  6. Sad state when money has been misplaced and managed by people who care of there own pockets and not fir the people whom they work for which keep them with a job,if housing stop wasting money on cheap appliances and services things would be better the bathroom repair was a disaster and the kitchen upgrades are garbage,if need be let the people purchase them with option if warranty and reassure the up keep you take care if what you buy but what’s given you destroy so put in concrete contertop and decent stuff that is warranty and stable for long haul not two year save money and on maintain it train worker to properly repair and not banaid..ijs

  7. While all these repairs are being done where are the tenant do the tenants get to keep their apartment is there rent amount going up or is everybody going to get Section 8

  8. Hello my name is Lakisha short so I have read about the plan you guys have come up with which sounds good but what’s going on with the people who are waiting for an apartment with nycha such as my self I been waiting for nycha to call me for an apartment for 4 yrs I have been certified twice and I been keeping all of my information up to date so when will I get called for an apartment me and family is struggling trying to paid this high rent so hope and pray that there will be some light under this tunnel with this plan you have in place I hope I can get called for an apartment thank you

  9. I have contacted everyone I can think of instead of the president to fix my apartment which is consistently deteriorating. I have begged for help since 2018 as I live with my son and chips are falling on his head when he showers. The apartment is badly ventilated which is causing an abnormal amount of rust and everything in the apartment to shut down. They wouldn’t even come to fix my light which I couldn’t reach in the kitchen. In 2018 they told me their budget was cut so they couldn’t help me because they lacked materials. Now they either close my tickets or just don’t bother to answer them. I’ve saved pictures from 2018 & took new ones. I feel like I’m in an abandoned building. Maintenance doesn’t even clean the building or outside of it so there huge rats at night and a mouse was dead in my living room when I got home from work. I’m so disgusted that I pay rent just to be uncomfortable in my own apartment. Just because poor people of color live in housing doesn’t mean we should be treated like shit especially if payments have always been on time.

  10. It’s too far gone. The years of disinvestment, mismanagement, politician’s involvement and lack of accountability on the residents side have crumbled the agency.
    I’ve seen newly renovated and rented apartments torn apart in months. The staff or outsiders are not urinating, craping in elevators or stairhalls, throwing litter out the windows, putting raw garbage out front rather than using trash chutes. It’s the residents who make it worse and the lefty politicians protect them.

  11. vivo En queenbrige por años y estos edificios de verdad dan asco baños cocinas paredes elevadores y todo parecen edificios abandonados llenos de cucarachas y ratas y muchos pagamos renta y de verdad ojalá q enserio remodeled todo y se un lugar seguro
    Y sobre todo pacifico para poder vivir un poco decente

  12. You have buildings as old as 75 years which have been neglected for the last 30. The only way to really fix them is move everyone out and gut rehab them. They are rotting from within…..

    Trust me i have worked here for more than 30 years. Eventually i will also be blamed for something i have no control over.

    Javier almodovar director of heating.

  13. I have been waiting for section 8
    To call me for an interview 14years housing expired my other application I’m 60 years old I’m disabled and can’t get no kind of help at all

  14. NYCHA is known for lying to the public and asking for billions so the people that look after the developments could pocket the money. The people all across the city are tired of the lies and living in poor conditions which is against there human rights which could stand in court. Once the tenants of the different NYCHA developments figure out that there is strength in numbers and ban together. They can defeat NYCHA at its game of miss treating those that are trying to make it in a broken city like New York City. Holding people accountable for there greed and dishonesty is something that us New Yorkers are going to stand on. The time has come NYCHA and those that sit in the upper ranks of management it’s either do your job or step down. Let somebody who cares more about the health and advancement of the communities have those positions.

  15. I don’t understand the money problem because all these new affordable housing projects are being built and for what?
    Only people with money can afford them.
    What I don’t understand is no-one knows the other persons situation to be put in a place that’s ripping apart.
    We are still human no matter what.
    I have asthma and so does my daughter…I have seizures…and I have feet problems….we both have sinus problems…I understand that NYCHA is for low income people but like I always say we are human beings.
    I don’t live in a NYCHA apartment…I’m in a shelter but these stories I hear are very sad and horrible.
    Why do people have to live like this while new buildings are being built.
    For myself it’s not even affordable because yearly for 2 people it’s $25,000 and above.
    I, myself don’t event get half of that a year.
    Where is the help?
    These new buildings are called affordable housing and when I go to housing connect and apply it comes back saying I am not approved because I don’t get a certain amount of money a year…then that’s where my statement comes in…what does affordable mean because only people with money can afford it not people with low income and only 1 income coming in a month.
    Can someone please explain.
    This is when the city…state…congress and others should come in and say we need to fix NYCHA and do what we have to do because we say NEW YORK is GREAT then make it GREAT.

  16. I live in a private house managed by NYCHA and I have been trying for over 10 years asking NYCHA to give me the transfer of title according to a program NYCHA/HUD dismantled six years ago leaving many FHA homes managed NYCHA in limbo I have requested with the elected official to come work with the FHA resident and lets’ come up with a program that will release these homes to the resident who have lived in the homes for over 20 years leaving 4-5 generations in limbo. Give these residents the title to their home. It’s long overdue Let these residents create generational wealth they earn it.

  17. This is colonialism disguised as gentrification. Everybody needs to be blamed the government, city officials and tenants. The tenants haven’t been taking care of the property which creates ideologies that we don’t care about where we live. And the government use the project as a way to keep us out of suburbs. I was raised in New York City Housing Authority in Drew Hamilton project. And they are good people that live in the projects and the kids are successful but you also have a group of bad apples and make it back for those I live in New York City Housing Authority and want to go life.

  18. Turn the title over already NYCHA many residents will take the home a repair them as they have done over the past 25 years because of a lost period of NON REPAIR of FHA properties attempting to force residents out But! the residents sustained their homes and the property without any help from NYCHA

    • Turn the title over already NYCHA many residents will take the home a repair them as they have done over the past 25 years because of a lost period of NON REPAIR of FHA properties attempting to force residents out But! the residents sustained their homes and the property without any help from NYCHA

  19. Instead of complaining, The NYCHA residents should start taking better care of their own apartments. I lived in NYCHA for a while and I worked hard and got out. I always understood that it was temporarily . I didn’t abuse the help that I got. Some of the people just don’t care how they live. They are pigs, always thinking that they deserve everything for free. They don’t show up for the community meetings, they don’t participated on anything to better themselves or the community they lived. Only a handful of residents will do everything possible to get things fix and up to dated. They have to understand that in UNITY there is STRENGTH. The politicians are there to become rich, not to help anyone but themselves ,family and close friends. Just remember, You don’t know what you got until you loose it. Any decent homeless person will trade places with you any time. Next time there is an election vote for someone that has live in the same conditions, and not because of their party affiliation, or color of their skin.

  20. Give each resident an opportunity to build generational worth. Give them title to their apartments – for free. Have them create their own boards, rules and committees. When they own their own apartment, they will care for them. If they don’t, then the owner/residents can have them evicted. Or they can sell their apartments and move out. This is a win/win.

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