Wednesday, June 12, 2013

NYC Housing Authority Plans for Private Development

While New York City's plan to allow private development on public-housing land is drawing increasing fire, officials are preparing to let developers submit plans for 99-year leases on eight parcels of land owned by the New York City Housing Authority, and build at least 4,300 new private apartments. NYCHA believes the move could bring $30 million to $50 million in annual revenue, which would be used to address the agency's $60 million annual budget shortfall, and pay for improvements to housing authority properties citywide. The developers would need to include some 800 affordable apartments in the new complexes.

The city remains committed to the initiative, saying it only needed approval from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to move forward.

"Strategies like this Land Lease plan are vital to improving the circumstances of NYCHA's residents and buildings and ensuring that quality public housing is available to New Yorkers who need it most," housing-authority spokeswoman Sheila Stainback wrote in a statement. "

Residents say they are worried the developments will displace community centers and parking lots around the public-housing buildings. Others say luxury apartments will cause further gentrification and ignite development that will change their neighborhoods. Under the lease plan, 20% of the new apartments would be set aside for low-income residents—which advocates say is too few.

"You're going to have these luxury housing units that will block our light, take away our trees and our playgrounds and our parks," said Carmen Negron, a Lower East Side resident of the Baruch Houses. The president of Douglass Houses Resident Association says tenants are worried about losing a valuable community center.

The city says it has no intentions to demolish community centers—although many would be moved—and that residents who now hold parking passes will have new spaces allocated to them after construction is completed.

Still, the Bloomberg administration cites the value of the city-owned land, and insists that the plan to generate money makes economic sense.