Photo: Dan DeLuca/Flickr
If one aspiring congressman gets his way, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) could have a new administrator: Governor Cuomo.
First created in 1924, the NYCHA houses 450,000 New Yorkers across 328 public housing developments and administers subsidized rental assistance to 235,000 through the Section 8 Leased Housing program.
But the program faces widespread challenges ranging from diminished funding, to unmanageable crime, to the possibility of elevated lead levels. And Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright, an aspiring successor to Congressman Charles Rangel, is advocating that control of the organization should be handed over to New York State.
“If NYCHA can’t take care of tenants, and take care of its properties, then we need a state takeover. I am prepared to introduce legislation that allows Governor Cuomo to do just that,” says Wright, who serves as chair of the Assembly’s Housing Committee.
The likelihood of this happening is unclear.
Mayor de Blasio, who is adamantly against the proposal, believes the proposal “makes no sense whatsoever.”
“Obviously the problems the housing authority has have to be solved here in the City of New York, not by bureaucrats 150 miles away,” he said.
That said, the NYCHA’s actions are under investigation for its handling of elevated lead levels. Last week, the Southern District US Attorney’s office was granted an order forcing the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to release data surrounding lead levels in NYCHA facilities.
For its part, the NYCHA does have plans in place to resolve the issue. Beyond cooperating with the lead investigations, it’s currently “developing new financing options and building innovative partnerships across the public, private, and non-profit sectors,” working to maintain and modernize buildings, adding community programs and preserve senior housing options.
One way it will make this possible is by converting some public housing to Section 8 housing, then selling the property to a consortium made in partnership with a private developer. This would provide both entities with federal tax credits and a mortgage.