Twice on Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio was talking about public housing.
First, he was releasing yet another plan to fix the struggling New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), trying to reverse decades of neglect. This one would pay for about $24 billion worth of repairs over the next 10 years. The housing authority says the need is $32 billion.
A PLAN TO HAVE PRIVATE DEVELOPERS MANAGE SOME NYCHA UNITS
The plan, dubbed "NYCHA 2.0," has three major tenets:
- First convert a third of the city's public housing to Section 8, handing it over to be managed by private developers.
- Second, build market-rate and some affordable housing on underutilized NYCHA property, like parking lots.
- Third, sell off air rights, allowing developers to build higher nearby.
The city hasn't specified which exact housing units will see all these changes.
The city has, for months, been accelerating the use of the private sector to repair thousands of NYCHA units, and previously announced plans to lease other NYCHA land for controlled private development.
The Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program allows non-profits or private developers to take over the maintenance and operation of a building. The RAD program allows private companies to collect rent, which remains the same percentage of tenants' salaries. But private companies are seen as better at sussing out hidden accounts that could change the price.
The firms also have control over their labor force, while NYCHA employees are unionized.
Also on Wednesday, the mayor was announcing a labor deal with the Teamsters, who, under the agreement, will begin to have NYCHA employees do work on nights and weekends.
A LOOMING COURT DEADLINE THAT COULD CHANGE NYCHA'S FATE
Both of these announcements come just two days before the city, the U.S. Attorney's office, and the federal government must submit a report to a federal judge who rejected a proposed consent decree last month. That decree between multiple levels of government would have installed a federal monitor and provided some pathway for NYCHA to repair its crumbling infrastructure.
The judge said it didn't go far enough. Now, some wonder whether a federal takeover, called a receivership, is in the works.
The mayor certainly hopes not. He told us on Wednesday: "Although we understand in the court process that's always a possibility, and we understand the federal government always has the opportunity to do that administratively. Everyone is talking."
So far, we have not seen many details about what the administration will tell the judge Friday. All they're telling us is that they hope all parties can reach a consensus.
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