NYCHA’s Lopez: Offer Alternative Financial Plan or “Shut Up”
There were more developments this week concerning the controversial proposal to build market-rate apartments on public housing property in New York City. Click through for a wrap-up.
- Tuesday evening, New York City Housing Authority Commissioner Margarita Lopez briefed residents of the Campos Plaza development, on East 13th Street. A previous session held at the Smith Houses did not go particularly well. During the meeting at Campos, the former Lower East Side Council member said 26,000 square feet located on two parking lots and a basketball court would be leased for private development. According to The Local East Village, Lopez told residents the leasing plan is NYCHA’s best hope of raising the money to pay for desperately needed repairs. “If you have a proposal for where to get the money, let me go get it with you… If you don’t, then shut up,” she said.
- In an interview with the Associated Press, NYCHA Chairman John Rhea suggested the new housing would create more diverse and productive communities. “We’re not trying some social engineering experiment here,” Rhea said, “but to the extent that we create greater income diversity and more mixed-income communities, we think that’s a positive thing.” The embattled chairman has argued it’s unfair to characterize the new-market rate apartments as “luxury housing.” But as the AP story pointed out, the new “apartments on the Upper West Side, for example, (could) mean $2,544 a month or more for a one-bedroom and $4,047 for a two-bedroom.”
- Rhea has emphasized that NYCHA has been left with little choice due to government’s failure to fully fund New York’s public housing system. As City Limits reported, “capital funding (in 2001) was around $420 million, (making up) 99 percent of NYCHA’s operating costs, but in 2011, it was down to only $270 million, and only 89 percent.” Rhea told the newspaper, “the government has broken its contract… the federal government is telegraphing that the cavalry’s not coming. All signs point to disinvestment. We are faced with a choice: we can walk away, or we can find creative solutions.”