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De Blasio proclaims NYCHA facing its ‘worst financial crisis,’ unveils plan to raise funds with public land

Mayor Bill de Blasio has just announced a 10-year public housing plan that aims to make major changes to the New York City Housing Authority.

Proclaiming that NYCHA was facing its “worst financial crisis,” the mayor unveiled a proposal that promises to raise $4.6 billion in capital over the next decade. Pointing out that NYCHA only has one month’s worth of cash before plunging into a deficit, De Blasio called for a number of controversial measures, such as leasing underused or unused land in public housing to private developers, transferring 1,000 NYCHA employees to other agencies and hiking parking fees.

Saying that NYCHA lost $2 billion over the past 15 years, De Blasio claims that his plan would prevent another $2.5 billion in losses over the next 10 years. “Disinvestment has taken its toll. So many of our buildings have fallen into disrepair,” de Blasio said.

His administration plans to introduce projects that will contain either 100 percent affordable housing or a 50/50 split between affordable and market-rate units. The city is targeting 10,000 units in 100 percent affordable housing. For 50/50 projects, the goal is 3,500 units.

While the new plan bears similarities to Plan NYCHA, a five-year plan launched under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, De Blasio insists that his plan is unique because it is based on the 80/20 model. “This is a very different plan than was presented in the past,” he said. “It’s connected to the reality of families in New York City today. This is the kind of change we have needed for a long time.”

The plan is the mayor’s latest move relating to affordable housing. About two weeks ago, he proposed an overhaul of the 421-a tax abatement program. His plan called for measures such as cutting the average 421-a subsidy for rental apartments from $573,000 per unit to $391,000. He also called for doubling the number of apartment units built through the program from 12,400 to 25,000 and expanding eligibility to cover families earning as little as $31,000 per year.

“No more tax breaks without building affordable housing in return. Period. This can’t be a city of just penthouses and luxury condos… By putting tough new requirements in place for 421a and raising new revenue from luxury real estate transactions to build affordable apartments, we can ensure that this remains a city for everyone,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio’s plan is the latest attempt to fix the ailing housing agency. NYCHA, which is responsible for housing 400,000 New York City residents, has been affected by cuts to federal funding and the high cost of maintaining aging structures.

 

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