New York City public housing is now falling apart faster than the Housing Authority can fix it.
Worse, a new Citizens Budget Commission report warns, NYCHA is broke — and getting broker.
Without major changes to the agency’s operations and finances, whole buildings will become uninhabitable.
And there’s no cash to replace them.
The CBC blasts “decades of deferred maintenance, insufficient capital investment and inadequate management,” but the pandemic was the potential final straw.
Rent collections collapsed amid the federal moratorium on evictions — from 90% pre-COVID to just 63% in February.
The loss of cashflow leaves NYCHA’s buildings “deteriorating faster than its ability to keep up with repairs,” the report warns.
It didn’t help that NYCHA’s Transformation Plan “de-emphasized non-payment evictions.”
In all, the authority’s annual shortfall has ballooned from $158 million in 2014 to $789 million last year.
Various one-shots (including $247 million from City Hall in 2022, plus diverting $248 million in federal subsidies meant for capital investments) let NYCHA scrape by, but its reserves are now down to their last $211 million — equivalent to “less than one month of expenses.”
NYCHA buildings now need more than $40 billion in repairs to bring them up to snuff, and that amount will snowball as long as it can’t afford even status-quo maintenance.
In just four years, the CBC predicts, buildings holding 130,000 units will be cheaper to replace than fix.
Not that NYCHA has the money to replace them.
Yet City Hall already faces $11 billion in red ink over the next few years.
It can’t save NYCHA.
Something’s got to give.
That means all of the below:
- Force tenants to pay their rent or move out.
- Get serious union concessions on pay and work rules.
- Make management more effective and efficient.
- Sell off property.
That means putting complexes under private management (tenants where it’s been done are happy) and auctioning other assets, including unused land.
NYCHA’s staring at the abyss: It means change radically, or die — and take a huge chunk of the city’s affordable-housing stock down with you.