New Bill Seeks to Federalize NYCHA

New Bill Seeks to Federalize NYCHA

Brooklyn’s public housing buildings could receive a critical upgrade if Albany signals its approval this year.

A new bill passed by the State Assembly this week will seek to qualify 21 state and city developments, which comprise 20,143 apartment units, for federal public housing subsidies provided by the federal government’s economic stimulus package.

“I am proud to sponsor this creative legislation to provide state and city public housing developments with much needed financial resources for their operating and maintenance needs,” said Assemblymember Vito Lopez (D-Williamsburg) who introduced the bill. “Under the current financial climate in New York State, it would be impossible to provide the resources to maintain the quality of life for the residents in these developments.”

Lopez hopes that his bill will allow state and city developments to qualify to receive subsidies through a Mixed-Finance Modernization plan that will seek to improve facilities through funds raised publicly and privately, leading to a newly created entity that would operate as an affiliate of New York City Housing Authority.

“This would be the largest mixed finance deal for housing in the nation’s history once federalization is approved,” said NYCHA Communications Officer Sheila Stainback. “In addition to preserving the 21 unfunded developments as public housing, the federalization plan would enable all of NYCHA’s other developments to benefit from their full portion of federal funds that otherwise must be diverted in part to the developments not included in HUD’s federal funding formula.”

Several Brooklyn public housing developments, which include Marlboro Houses (2292 West 8th Street) in Gravensend, and, in Williamburg, the Bushwick Houses (372 Bushwick Ave.), Jonathan Williams Plaza (227 Division Ave.), Independence Towers (114 Taylor St.) will be affected by the legislation, which could enable maintenance, capital improvements, and increased staffing administered by the New York City Housing Authority.

Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny (D-Coney Island) celebrated the passage of the bill, which would affect residents of the Marlboro Houses in his district by reducing NYCHA’s operating deficits.

“With this reorganization, nearly two dozen NYCHA developments in serious need of improvements will have access to needed funding,” said Brook-Krasny.

Council member Steve Levin (D-Williamsburg), who is working on introducing a companion resolution in City Council, concurred, explaining that Lopez’s bill would likely bring millions of dollars to NYCHA developments for services and repairs at Independence Towers and Jonathan Williams Plaza in his district.

“As an affordable housing advocate, expanding funding streams for NYCHA is extremely important to me, and I am thrilled that Assemblyman Lopez has found yet another way to do so and that I can show my support for this initiative in my official capacity,” said Levin.

Unlike most bills in the legislature, the NYCHA bill is operating on a strict schedule and must pass by March 17 in order to comply with federal Stimulus requirements. The bill also must be approved by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, though the bill enjoyed widespread support in the State Assembly, passing 140-2.