We have more today on Mayor de Blasio’s plan to rescue the New York City Housing Authority from financial distress. At a news conference yesterday, he unveiled “NextGeneration NYCHA,” a 10-year-blueprint to eliminate the agency’s spiraling budget deficit. The most eye-catching part of the proposal is a reworked version of Mayor Bloomberg’s scheme to lease public housing property to private developers. Here’s how it was described this morning in the Daily News:
The most controversial aspect of the plan is a vaguely described effort to raise millions by letting developers build 17,000 apartments on NYCHA land, most of which would be “affordable,” with 3,500 renting for “market rate.” Most of the $800 million NYCHA plans to raise this way comes from developments that would include luxury units, with NYCHA leasing “high-value land” to developers for so-called 50/50 housing — half affordable, half market rate. The 50/50 proposal echoes a failed Bloomberg administration effort to lease NYCHA land to builders for towers that were 80% luxury and 20% affordable. De Blasio killed that plan over tenant objections that the towers would chew up open space and worsen gentrification.
The Bloomberg proposal called for leasing land at five NYCHA sites on the Lower East Side. The de Blasio administration did not reveal the locations being targeted yesterday. The new list will be released in August. Here’s what the mayor had to say about the timetable and the substance of the plan when questioned by reporters:
…What we’ll do in August is announce specific sites that are ready. We have a lot of potential sites, but we don’t have a firm, specific set to begin with. We’ll announce those in August, and it will come in waves – both the 50-50 model and the 100 percent model… Again, we’re looking at dozens of sites, but we are going to have to – there’s a lot of work to make sure that a site will work. When we believe it work for either of these models, we will then publicly announce that. We’ll meet with community leaders and resident leaders, and we’ll go from there… (There’s) been, obviously, over the last year and a half, with (NYCHA Chairwoman Shola Olatoye’s) efforts and a lot of other people’s efforts, an ongoing effort to figure out what would work for people, which is why you see a very different design than the one presented by the previous administration. I would say my colleagues here from the City Council were people who issued a lot of concerns about the previous plan. They’re standing here because it’s a very different plan based on their feedback… When we go into a specific development and say, “Here is a site that we think could be utilized for one of these models,” the question will be what are some of the things that the surrounding development most needs, in terms of capital investments – obviously looking for job opportunities for people from the development. That’s going to be something we do in each and every case.
While leaders in the City Council did offer their support, some Lower east Side activists are already expressing their doubts. Here’s their reaction, via City Limits:
…Some are still suspicious, both at the content and at the way the release of NextGeneration NYCHA was handled. (Jonathan) Gardenhire, the vice president of the Tenant Association at Manhattan’s Smith Houses, who was instrumental in blocking Bloomberg’s infill plan and who was invited by the chair to NextGeneration NYCHA’s unveiling, thought the plan should have been delivered to residents first. “They said this is a plan and a process. I’m very interested in seeing the process aspect of it. When they start engaging with residents and coming to them with these plans, I’m just really, really hoping residents in these particular developments get to shape how they change,” Gardenhire said. “I think it’s important for whatever development they do to be integrated into the existing development, to promote the social and cultural sustainability of these neighborhoods.” Gardenhire and Aixa Torres, president of Smith Houses, were invited into a private meeting with the mayor and chair. But after the meeting, Gardenhire said there were still many unanswered questions. “I asked the mayor about the direction and shape these neighborhoods and communities will be taking,” Gardenhire said. “He didn’t really have much to say.”
More to come…