Federalization of Bay View in view • Brooklyn Paper

Federalization of Bay View in view

A big change could be coming to Bay View Houses.

With an eye to increasing revenue to maintain the housing projects it oversees, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is pursuing a strategy of “federalizing” 21 government-run housing projects in New York City — including seven in Brooklyn, Bay View among them — that currently receive no direct government funds for upkeep and capital improvements.

There is a March 17 deadline for NYCHA – which began public hearings on the plan in December — to submit its proposal to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to snag money available under the Stimulus Act passed last year.

The plan “would go a long way toward making NYCHA financially solvent, and ensuring good living conditions for NYCHA tenants,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, calling it “one of the most important steps that we can ever take to preserve affordable housing in New York City.”

To qualify, NYCHA “must partner with a major financial institution and raise private funds to pay for the rehabilitation of the properties through a combination of tax credits, bonds, and/or loans,” according to a fact sheet on NYCHA’s Web site.

Federalization would be achieved through the creation of new limited partnership between the authority, the financial institution and a not-for-profit organization that would lease the 21 developments from NYCHA.

“NYCHA would be the managing partner of this new entity,” NYCHA Chairperson John Rhea explained during a recorded presentation to NYCHA tenants. NYCHA would maintain control over the housing developments, according to information on NYCHA’s website. “NYCHA will also contribute the buildings to the partnership,” Rhea said.

For residents, he added, “Day-to-day life will not change. All of your rights, services and protections as public housing residents will remain the same and you will remain subject to the same HUD guidelines with the same rent schedules and income requirements.”

The buildings would never be taken out of the city’s stock of public housing, Rhea added, noting, “There will also be numerous assurances in the partnership agreement that the developments must remain public housing and cannot be converted to any other use.”

According to material posted on its website, over the last 12 years, NYCHA has diverted about $1 billion from money received for the other 315 developments under its aegis, to caring for the 21 developments – representing 21,000 apartments — that receive virtually no government funding.

“The result has been that there is less money to go around for everyone in NYCHA public housing,” said Rhea.

Not only is there “less money to repair, renovate and maintain every development,” he explained, but the authority runs an annual deficit of about $150 million, $90 million of which goes to maintaining the housing developments that receive no direct government funding other than Section 8 funds for fewer than 2,000 apartments in the 21 developments.

While NYCHA was permitted by HUD to convert as many as 8,400 apartments to Section 8, beginning in 2008, Rhea noted, the number of conversions has been low, “Partially because NYCHA residents have been reluctant to switch from public housing to Section 8, and partially as a result of federal budget cuts to NYCHA’s Section 8 program.

“Without an increase in funding, NYCHA will not be able to convert the remaining 6,400 units for the foreseeable future,” he added.

Federalization would result in an annual infusion of over $100 million a year to NYCHA.A total of $200 million would be invested in the 21 housing developments over the next two years, and renovation work would continue through 2012, according to NYCHA.

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