The Surreal Estate

Perspectives on Tenant Organizing from the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board

NYCHA’s Money Troubles Are Not What You’d Expect

In the past week and a half, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has been the focus of investigative reports and editorial criticism in the New York Daily News. According to the Daily News reports, NYCHA officials have been sitting on nearly $1 billion in federal funds while apartments languish in bad conditions and tenants find it nearly impossible to get repairs.

According to someone in the know, NYCHA has up to 4 years to spend all federal assistance money, so technically they are in the clear (legally.) But the court of public opinion is demanding that the agency be held accountable.  The Daily News report has led to a call for board members’ resignation from numerous Op-Eds (also printed in the Daily News.) Presumptive Mayoral candidates are sounding off: Scott Stringer, Bill de Blasio and John Liu have all released statements criticizing the agency or the Mayor’s handling of the situation. Charles Grassley, the Republican Senator from Iowa (yes, Iowa) has demanded information on the salaries of Rhea, Youssouf and Lopez. Suffice to say, NYCHA is in the hot seat.

In an era of budget shortfalls and cuts to social services, to discover that the city’s largest landlord to low income families has nearly $1 billion in cash, unwilling or unable to spend, is obviously frustrating, and unexpected. It begs the question: how could this happen? And how can it be stopped? NYCHA is one of the few remaining public housing authorities in the United States, and its record is a bright spot in the abysmal records of Public Housing authorities in cities like Chicago, and St. Louis. As another Op-Ed in, you guessed it, the Daily News notes – NYCHA can be saved. And, NYCHA must be saved – as it is the largest landlord in the city, the loss of housing stock to a city struggling to preserve affordable housing would be dire.

FUREE, GOLES, Mothers on the Move, and Community Voices Heard are demanding more accountability, more transparency, and that NYCHA MOVE the MONEY to replacement of loss units, timely repairs, and improved maintenance. Join residents, allies and advocates at 250 Broadway in Manhattan at 2 pm TODAY for a press conference at NYCHA’s headquarters. Following the conference, the group will march to HUD’s NYC headquarters at 26 Federal Plaza.

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