FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 28, 2018
AHEAD OF MASSIVE REPAIRS COMING TO INDEPENDENCE AND WILLIAMS PLAZA, NYCHA LAUNCHES RESIDENT ENGAGEMENT
Left unfunded by the State in 1998, more than 3,000 NYCHA apartments have no public housing funding and need over $775 million for critical repairs.
NYCHA’s PACT program secures millions for renovations and repairs and guarantees long-term affordability.
Baychester and Murphy conversions are underway with Independence and Williams Plaza starting shortly.
NEW YORK–– Today, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) announced the next phase of its Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT) program to secure massive repairs and stable funding for long-neglected public housing developments. NYCHA is launching community engagement at Independence Towers and Williams Plaza in Brooklyn, part of its PACT Unfunded Units portfolio. Through the program, more than 3,000 residents at almost 1,100 apartments at Independence and Williams will see significant improvements to their apartments and buildings. Launched in 2016, PACT is one of the de Blasio administration’s reforms to improve quality of life in public housing.
Built by New York State in the 1960s, Independence Towers and Williams Plaza were run by the State for nearly four decades before being transferred to NYCHA in 1998 without any funding to continue operating the almost 1,100 units. As a result of the State’s disinvestment from public housing, NYCHA has had to stretch its federal operating funds across 3,000 more apartments, eroding services citywide. NYCHA’s PACT program provides a new model to fund these units, make major repairs, and improve resident quality of life.
Independence Towers needs $66 million in repairs. Williams Plaza requires $90 million in repairs.
“Through PACT, we have a clear path to providing critical repairs for 1,100 families,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye. “This community engagement period is an important step as we are committed to ensuring advocates, partners, and residents understand how new public-private partnerships will help us create permanently affordable housing for future generations.”
“I commend NYCHA for taking steps to protect its unfunded units at Independence and Williams Plaza, and address their capital needs,” said Congressmember Nydia M. Velázquez. “A number of critical questions remain outstanding regarding the conversion process. I will keep monitoring this situation carefully to ensure these units remain affordable over the long term, residents continue to be part of the process and their views are incorporated into any final conversion plan.”
“I believe this program will improve the administration at these housing complexes and free up funds to reinvest at Independence and Williams Plaza,” said Assembly Member Joseph R. Lentol. “What is most important in implementing the program is the inclusion of tenants and tenant organizations in the process so the Housing Authority choses well new management who understands the local community and commits to being a partner.”
While similar to the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, the Unfunded Units do not qualify for RAD because they do not currently have dedicated public housing funding. But through PACT, these units will undergo similar RAD conversions to NYCHA’s Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program and public-private partnerships will provide funds for critical repairs, including new kitchens, apartment interiors, roof replacements, façade repairs, and enhanced security features. This will protect the long-term affordability of these apartments.
“I will be the voice of the residents and make sure no rental increase will happen through the transition. No residents will lose their apartment. We will make sure all senior Citizens and disable residents will be protected. I am working with city, state and federal elected officials to make sure there is a smooth and positive transition for all residents,” said Williams Plaza Resident Association President Joel Gross. “We will make sure that all residents will have full knowledge and all their questions will be answered. We are working very closely with the transition team including NYCHA to address all issues and concerns.”
Under PACT, residents will not pay more than 30 percent of their income toward rent, and they retain the right to a hearing to resolve any grievances. Residents in the Unfunded Units will be protected by PACT’s guiding principles as well, which apply to both the RAD and the Unfunded Units portfolios, protecting long-term affordability and guaranteeing strong resident rights.
To ensure that affordability is guaranteed, NYCHA will enter a long-term ground lease with private partners who will repair and manage the development. NYCHA will continue to own the land, maintain a significant stake in the ownership structure, and oversee major decisions.
The developments in NYCHA’s Unfunded Units were originally built and funded by City and State subsidies, and they have never been funded directly by HUD. There is no funding awarded for these developments – their operations and infrastructure are paid for out of the federal funding allocated for NYCHA’s traditional public housing portfolio. Operational costs for these units exceed $23 million a year, and their infrastructure repair needs are more than $775 million. While they remain unfunded, the buildings continue to deteriorate.
“Thousands of Williamsburg residents who call Williams Plaza and Independence Towers home besiege our office complaining about their deteriorating quality of life and misery due to delayed and unfulfilled critical maintenance work and capital improvements. This is a result of the lack of a funding mechanism for those buildings,” said Rabbi David Niederman. “While NYCHA tries hard to answer our pleas with temporary patches, everyone knows that this is inadequate. I’m happy that NYCHA is working on an innovative program to provide the badly needed upgrades, in a process that actively includes the residents and organizations that represent them and the local elected officials. We look forward to participate in that process for the benefit of all the residents.”
Community engagement begins this week at Independence and Williams Plaza. NYCHA’s Community Development team will meet with community leaders and residents to ensure all stakeholders understand the many benefits that will come from the PACT conversion. Conversion is expected to begin in mid-2018. NYCHA’s Baychester and Murphy Houses are currently undergoing conversion, a process which began last year.
About the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)
NYCHA’s mission is to increase opportunities for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers by providing safe, affordable housing and facilitating access to social and community services. Almost 400,000 New Yorkers reside in NYCHA’s 325 public housing developments around the five boroughs, and another 235,000 receive subsidized rental assistance in private homes through the NYCHA-administered Section 8 Leased Housing Program. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/nycha and for regular updates on NYCHA news and services, connect with us via www.facebook.com/NYCHA and www.twitter.com/NYCHA.