We just returned from the Rutgers Houses (Madison & Rutgers), where Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Paterson, Speaker Silver and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan made a major announcement. Thanks to the federal stimulus bill, 21 New York City public housing developments are being “federalized.” In practical terms it means the New York City Housing Authority will soon begin much needed repairs and upgrades on the projects, including Rutgers. Donovan called it the most important day in the history of public housing preservation, not just in New York, but in the entire country.
In a complicated financial arrangement, NYCHA is tapping $100 million in stimulus funds, $40 million from the state and $210 million from bond sales. Until now, the 21 developments (built by the city and state) were not funded by Washington. Going forward, the developments will be eligible for federal money, treated no differently than the rest of the NYCHA projects.
“While other cities are blowing up public housing,” Bloomberg said, ” we are preserving it.” In a news conference that went on for two hours, there was plenty of praise to go around. Senator Charles Schumer and Rep. Nydia Velazquez were credited for championing public housing in Washington for 20 years. Bloomberg highlighted Silver’s role in pushing the necessary legislation through the Assembly. Senator Daniel Squadron won accolades for carrying the bill in the State Senate, as Majority Leader John Sampson said, pushing it “relentlessly.” There was also praise for Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, who teamed up with Squadron to advocate for the legislation. Councilmembers Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez were acknowledged for their efforts on behalf of public housing residents.
46-thousand people live in the 21 developments. Bloomberg said the NYCHA construction projects would mean jobs for almost 400 New Yorkers.