The latest attempt at balancing the $60 million dollar red ink inside NYCHA is to lease out land that’s currently being used for parks, playgrounds and parking to luxury high rise developers who will build three million square feet of rental units. Twenty percent of the units would be put aside for low income families earning under $50,000.
Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, whose district has the largest number of public housing units summed it up this way, “We have a real crisis when it comes to the NYCHA.”
The city’s housing authority has a massive backlog of repairs–nearly half a million. The leasing at market rate prices would kick anywhere from $31 to $46 million a year back to the ailing provider of public housing.
Mayor Bloomberg supports the plan saying, “If you want N.Y.C.H.A. buildings to be improved, you need to get money from some place.”
Congress has been steadily slashing funding for public housing programs, partially leading to the deficit. But if the city hands over a sweet 99 year lease deal to developers to build more than 4,000 new apartments in their midst—it would be solved, at least financially. But residents see real problems.
Mabel Alameda, who lives in public housing on the Lower East Side flat out gives it the thumbs down. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. The kids need the playgrounds and we need the parking spaces.”
Mom Melinda Mack-Foster pointed out, “We are struggling as a people as a whole, and to keep taking away from the poor is not the answer.” Although she liked the idea of job creation when retail space opens up at the base of the new tony towers.
Mark-Viverito spelled it out. “The reality is if we do not get capital into these buildings which are decades old, we may reach a point of no return with this valuable housing stock.” But she said the residents voices must be heard when it comes to working through any proposals.
N.Y.C.H.A. will open up the spaces for developer bids next month on. Four similar projects have been built around the city; most had to relocate the green space amenities like parking spots or picnic areas. City officials say it’s been a success in each of the neighborhoods.