Monday, December 22, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: Saving a Rotting City within the Big Apple

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New York's city within a city – its 334 public housing developments – is slouching towards a tipping point that could require a 1970's-style bailout.

The New York Times' Mireya Navarro yesterday provided an illuminating update on where things stand with the nation's largest public housing system – which has enough rooms to put up the entire population of Minneapolis.

By most experts' accounts, the city's Housing Authority has been quite successful overall – especially compared to other cities which have been home to some infamous developments from Chicago's Cabrini Green to New Orleans' Magnolia Projects that are now shuttered.

In contrast, New York City has a wait list of about 250,000 families who are lining up to fill the Housing Authority's developments which are already bursting at their worn seams.
But despite the system's success, it's been reeling from a series of large cuts from the federal government for capital construction projects and repairs – totaling over $1 billion in the last decade, according to Navarro's math.

The authority is also facing a $77 million deficit for this year – and a whopping $18 billion in unmet construction needs – creating the possibility that we could have several scary Cabrini Greens on our hands in the coming years unless something is done quickly.

With New York already in a major housing crunch and Mayor de Blasio searching for ways to build more affordable homes, New York is seeing tens of thousands of its existing city-owned apartments slip into shoddy disrepair.

Although problems sometimes aren't simply solved by the writing of a big check, this is one of those situations where cash truly is king.

While Mayor de Blasio has frowned on his predecessor's plans to allow developers to build market-rate apartments on Housing Authority property, a solution quickly needs to be found to fix the agency's fiscal crunch. And as for federal lawmakers, they'd help bail out Minneapolis, wouldn't they?

Bob Hardt

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