NEW YORK (PIX11) — While state and city leaders have pushed to grow the state’s housing stock, the New York City Housing Authority is facing serious budget woes.
NYCHA, home to around 340,000 New Yorkers, has collected less and less rent in recent years. The public housing agency collected just 65 percent of the rent it charged in the year leading up to December, a spokesperson confirmed Tuesday. It’s the lowest percentage of rent collection in NYCHA history.
In 2019, NYCHA collected about 88 percent of rent charged, leaving the agency with $125 million in rent arrears, according to a December budget presentation. Those numbers worsened in each of the years that followed. As of 2022, there were $454 million in rent arrears.
In January of 2022, New York’s nearly 2-year-old eviction moratorium expired. While it was in place, tenants could file court papers indicating they were unable to pay rent because they were dealing with financial hardship because of the pandemic.
NYCHA has dipped into its reserves to cover costs in recent years. Last year’s budget included a $100 million draw from the reserves and the 2023 proposed budget includes a $65 million draw. By the end of 2022, there was less than a month’s worth of reserves remaining. Housing and Urban Development, the federal body in charge of public housing, recommends having three to four months worth of reserves.
“Without additional funding or improvement in tenant rent payments, NYCHA will be forced to significantly cut expenses and curtail property repairs beginning in 2024,” NYCHA wrote in its December 2022 presentation.
A HUD spokesperson said the agency is worried about both the hardships residents are facing as well as the lasting impact of reduced rent collections. The agency has suggested income recertification and repayment plans for rent arrears.
“HUD continues to encourage PHAs (Public Housing Authorities) to work with tenants who are behind on rent to find a path forward that keeps people in their homes rather than immediately seek evictions,” the spokesperson said.
NYCHA has been considered the worst landlord in New York City in recent years. The Public Advocate’s Office puts out a list each year. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said in December that the city had kept the spot as the worst landlord.
“It’s true that NYCHA needs more funding from the state and federal government, but it’s also true that its management failures this year and for many years before have led to a bankruptcy of tenant trust,” Williams said at the time. “Taking ownership of NYCHA’s past and present failures, rather than passing the buck, is essential to improving its future and the dangerous conditions for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers paying to live there.”