Eviction records for two large NYCHA developments converted to private management under the Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT) program show a higher eviction rate compared to the system average, Human Rights Watch found.

Ocean Bay RAD

Harry DiPrinzio

The eviction rate at the Ocean Bay complex in Queens between 2017 and 2019 far outpaced the NYCHA average, a new report found.

New York City’s five-year-old plan to turn public housing over to private management has eroded tenant protections and may be driving an increase in evictions, according to a report published Thursday by a leading watchdog group.

Eviction records for two large NYCHA developments converted to private management under the Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT) program show a higher eviction rate compared to the system average, Human Rights Watch found. The analysis, based on a review of six complexes converted between 2016 and 2020, follows previous City Limits reporting on the rise in evictions at the Ocean Bay Houses in Queens, the first development to undergo PACT conversion.

“PACT was supposed to make up for the funding shortfall to improve buildings, but it has entailed insufficient oversight and the loss of key protections for tenants’ rights, and, in two cases, we found that the program was tied to increased evictions,” said Jackson Gandour, business and human rights fellow at Human Rights Watch.

Starting in December 2016, NYCHA began leasing its developments to for-profit management companies and converting tenant rental subsidies from Section 9, a public housing designation, to Section 8 under the PACT model, a local version of the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) policy. Plan supporters say the conversions are the fastest way to unlock financing for desperately-needed repairs and maintenance across the sprawling system, home to roughly 360,000 people, according to official figures. The actual population, which includes “unauthorized” residents sharing space with leaseholders, is much larger.

With problems mounting—including a lead paint crisis endangering small children—NYCHA repairs estimated to cost roughly $30 billion and a federal monitor assigned to oversee repairs and administration, former Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed converting a third of NYCHA’s housing stock, about 62,000 units, to PACT.

The policy has remained controversial among NYCHA tenants, but the conversions have continued apace, affecting more than 9,500 units with more than 20,000 authorized tenants in, NYCHA data from 2021 shows.

Last year, ​​Westside Urban Renewal Tenants Association President Cynthia Tibbs told City Limits she was concerned about the risk of eviction from private property managers. She said tenants in the nearby Wise Towers had seen no improvements to their homes under the new arrangement.

“The management company talks to them like they’re less than human. The on-site super is never anywhere to be found,” she said.

The Human Rights Watch report hones in on the impact at the Ocean Bay Houses, a large complex in Arverne with 1,393 apartments and about 3,700 residents. NYCHA leased Ocean Bay to the developer MDG and management company Wavecrest in 2017. The companies formed the joint venture RDC Development LLC.

Human Rights Watch found that RDC Development evicted 50 households from Ocean Bay between January 2017 and August 2019, with an annual eviction rate of 1.4 percent in 2017, and 1.1 percent in 2018 and 2019. That rate far outpaced the NYCHA average of 0.3 percent evictions over that time period, the report found.

The report’s researchers also said the conversions erode tenants’ rights by taking buildings out of the purview of a federal monitor. But the full impact of the PACT conversions, they added, are difficult to assess because a statewide eviction moratorium took effect before thousands of apartments were turned over to private companies. 

The report’s authors urged the federal government to step up funding for Section 9 public housing to address problems at NYCHA facilities, and called on New York City and state to send more cash to the ailing system.

They also advised NYCHA to extend federal monitor oversight to the privately converted developments and to establish eviction-prevention plans.  

NYCHA disputed the findings of the Human Rights Watch report in a statement Thursday. 

“Despite NYCHA’s transparency and cooperation with Human Rights Watch over several months, this ‘report’ contains numerous unsubstantiated claims and fabrications about the Authority’s PACT program,” said NYCHA spokesperson Barbara Brancaccio. 

“We agree conditions at NYCHA developments are the consequence of long-term federal disinvestment, and we will continue to use PACT and other innovative strategies to raise capital, make improvements and protect tenant rights and protections,” she added. “NYCHA is committed to continuously improving PACT by including residents in decisions, and working with PACT partners to prevent displacement, improve engagement and strengthen oversight.” 

NYCHA tenants owed $241 million in arrears as of June 30, 2021, the agency said last year. That sum includes $124 million accrued since March 2020. NYCHA has not received any funding from the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), however, a spokesperson told City Limits earlier this month. The state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance said public housing authorities will receive ERAP funding only after all private applicants are paid out. About 85,000 applicants have yet to receive payment from the tapped-out fund, making NYCHA reimbursement unlikely without a massive cash infusion from the federal government.  

A NYCHA spokesperson said the agency will only pursue eviction for non-payment when “the rent due is extremely high” and will not seek to evict households headed by an older adult in most cases.

Residents of PACT developers had to apply for ERAP with the cooperation of their management companies, rather than the public housing authority.   

Some public housing advocates and state lawmakers have backed a NYCHA proposal known as Blueprint for Change, which would transfer 110,000 apartments to a proposed Public Housing Preservation Trust and speed up repairs. Like the RAD conversion, the Preservation Trust would switch the tenant subsidies from Section 9 to Section 8, but the plan would cut out the private developers and management companies.

“The Trust is the first plan that I have seen that both protects tenant’s rights and invests in our housing,” said Isaacs Houses Resident Association President Rose Bergin in a statement last year. “For too long residents have had to endure repair backlogs and a lack of services. The Trust offers us a real solution to a problem that we have been dealing with for many years.”

Still, other tenants remain skeptical of any changes to their subsidies or to their public housing designation after generations of NYCHA disinvestment. 

“They’re trying to ram this through, because they have the resources behind them and the support of some of the political establishment,” Citywide Council of Presidents (CCOP) senior member Reginald Bowman told New York Focus and Gotham Gazette last year. “They’re not listening to the legitimate resident government.”

12 thoughts on “NYCHA’s Shift to Private Management May Drive Evictions, New Report Warns

  1. Housing Court is a ugly place each day many tenants walk out losers as eviction looms.

    Eviction is a horrible experience kids are yanked out of school, etc.

    The shift to private NYCHA management will result in evictions because private industry require BIG $$$ profits the tenant does not pay the rent they are evicted.

    What to do?

    Allow NYCHA tenants to live in arrears?

    Evict NYCHA tenants who can not pay rent?

    America has just ended 2 years of “no rent” landlords including NYCHA will NOT recover past due rent 2 years of rent the ‘rent moratorium”.

    The 2 years of NO rent will sink many landlords not NYCHA.

    NYCHA could become a HUGE homeless shelter is that fair to NYCHA tenants who are paying rent each month?

    God help NYCHA tenants vulnerable to private management .

  2. First, are you using “evictions filed” or actual evictions that really happened in your numbers, you don’t specify. I suspect its “evictions filed” and not actual evictions. I bet the actual eviction number is no larger than any other complex.

    I would bet many evictions are justified. Illegal activity in unit (which residents complain about every day) Non payment of rent BEFORE COVID, so the moratoriums don’t cover that, you don’t pay you don’t stay. Perhaps the private sector is doing what NYCHA would not do, getting rid of bad tenants so that good tenants who need housing and will follow the rules can move in.

    Personally I think it is stupid to put one dime more into these dumps, they should build brand new buildings in close proximity to the old ones and the good tenants could then move into the new buildings, no rent hikes, just a simple move, and then tear down these slum buildings. It’s putting lipstick on a pig.

    The tiny amount of money that tenants actually pay for their units does not come close to covering the operations of the buildings, never has. This is why public housing is America is a failure. But is it fair to working people who pay taxes and don’t live in NYCHA buildings to subsides people who do?

  3. NYCHA should be eliminated and give all its current tenants pride of ownership via cooperative. NYC Agencies are terrible at management of NYC taxpayer properties. This sinking of NYC Property Taxpayer funds which increased 100% in 10 years whilst SME/SFR incomes have not increased no way near requires delinking NYCHA and other failed NYC agencies within bloated USD 100.0 billion budget. NYC as a whole is sinking.

  4. Who now owns Fulton houses is it this guy or not Stephan Ross can someone tell me I live here god bless all of yous and your family always and thank you 🙏

  5. NYCHA’s Shift to Private Management May Drive Evictions
    the biggest reasons why eviction will go up. is because the Private Managements are going to be doing the things that NYCHA has for many years haven’t done. and that is enforce a lot of the rules. like if people are banned from being on or in NYCHA buildings and the family or families of the banned person is still letting that person on or in the building. than that family or families will be evicted. or people who are living by themselves in a two or more bedroom apartment when a one bedroom or less can be moved into. due to the fact that the two or more bedroom is needed for a family to move into from a shelter. people being in gangs or is selling drugs all these things are going to lead to people being evicted. if NYCHA was to enforced these things and more years ago this would not be a problem today. but because Private Management is coming in enforcing all these things it looks like Private Management just wants to get rid of all the poor. NYCHA still owns all of the Property the only thing is the Private Managements now run the building and gets to keep the rent that tenants pay for the rent. and the only way for the Private Managements to make a profit is by doing the following. enforcing all the rules so that there are very little to worry about from the tenants. keeping the best of the best tenants. and making it so that all the repairs that are needed to be done necessarily and not necessarily repairs.

  6. Making room for all these illegal wet foot to dry land immigrants who have Cartel or South American Gang affliliations. You voted Biden in and this is what you got. Nothing he stated on his platform. 🙄🤔

  7. NYCHA has been a blessing all the 67 years My family and I have lived here!!!! We are Seniors hubby and I, We are waiting on ERAP to pay our rent from two yrs back. Our Apt. has been fixed with all the needs we had and so we need our apt. since rents are so high and our income is fixed on a budget that we can only afford. Tenants cannot and should not be evicted just because of City bureaucratic mishaps and so on…….NYCHA get it together We are People trying to live normal lives here!!!!!!!!! ERAP PAY The Rent’s That Are Due ASAP……….

  8. Privatizing these building will not fix the problem, if landlords are only in it to make a profit. We know that bad acts are on both sides of the Ailes. Yes some of these NYCHA buildings have bad acts but it’s not about putting people in the street as much as it is to fix the problem from the bottom up. We pay our rent and Section8 is the watchdog that is suppose to protect our rights or hold the funds (Rent). NYCHA notorious mismanagement throughout the years have shown lead, leaks, rodents etc. by putting bandaid on years of abuse. Yet still being paid by Section8. NYCHA buildings needs to be gutted, move people into empty apartments and Fix the problem from top to bottom, repeat the process with every complex, it will cost money but it won’t be a quick fix on major issues, (I saw this work in Mt. Vernon, Westchester County). brand new units that was fixed from years of neglect.
    Yes, give people a one time offer to put everyone on lease and if they DON’T downsize or remove without prejudice.
    Also, hold these landlords accountable by not paying Section8. Why are they being paid for no service or bad service???? Why are tenants held to a higher standard than landlords???? We deserve better oppose to someone just being paid to harass or disrespect. Everyone has a part in the success of NYCHA, it is not always the tenants sometimes it’s MANAGEMENT. Right now NYCHA needs all hands on deck.

  9. It’s so funny to me that people think those living in NYCHA pay little to nothing. My family member is paying $2000 for a 3 bedroom apartment. That is not cheap..lol I have friends and co workers who are also paying top dollar. Educate yourselves people because there are a lot of people paying top dollar to live in NYCHA.

  10. I live in NYCHA. I don’t live off of anyone’s back. Work everyday. I am college educated, have two masters degrees and am working towards my doctorate. I pay close to 2500 for a two bedroom. its disheartening to see the comments at times. People are so ignorant.

  11. its weird how some people feel slighted by how others live & think that places that they don’t at, is their business, smh, silly fools. anyways, NYCHA has contributed to the upbringing of so MANY artists, athletes, scholars, and so on … their parents blessed with the opportunity, after applying &then going through a screening/waiting process &then paying all the fees, to raise their families in a better environment. …and some of these areas of NYC would not be what it is without the residents of NYCHA who built up those areas that started off broken with little to no opportunity. NYCHA is housing security in a country that would rather see children on the street than to fix a housing crisis that plaques America.

    it’s ignorant ppl who think that all NYCHA residents do is sit at home all day and shop for jordans online with food stamps.

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