FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 18, 2018
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Regional Plan Association Releases New Report Quantifying the Importance of NYCHA for All New Yorkers
NYCHA Residents Play Crucial Role in NYC Economy, with Tenants Disproportionately in Education, Healthcare, Transportation and Manufacturing; Properties Home to Resources like Childcare, Senior care and Open Space
If NYCHA loses just 10% of its housing stock, 40,000 New Yorkers will be forced to compete for scarce affordable housing or pushed into homelessness, worsening the situation of some of New York’s most vulnerable residents and putting an enormous burden on City services and taxpayers
New York, NY – A new report released today by Regional Plan Association, "NYCHA’s Crisis: A Matter for All New Yorkers", highlights the crucial role that NYCHA plays in New York City’s economy—as home to 5% of the city’s residents, including a disproportionate number of tenants in the fields of education, healthcare, transportation and manufacturing. It is also home to small businesses and provides crucial resources for neighborhoods, including childcare, senior care and open space.
On the heels of the release of New York City’s NYCHA 2.0 plan, this report not only quantifies NYCHA’s importance to the regional economy and fabric of New York City life, but underscores the crucial nature of the City’s road map to permanently close the system’s capital needs gap.
The report models what might happen if the city were to lose a modest 10% of NYCHA units, a figure well within the realm of imagination given the current state of NYCHA’s buildings. It predicts that a closure of NYCHA properties due to continued deterioration could require upwards of 40,000 New Yorkers to compete for scarce affordable private housing or potentially be pushed into homelessness.
This, of course, would be a disaster for these individuals – many of whom are among the most vulnerable New Yorkers. Additionally, though, such an outcome would also put an enormous strain on critical City services, stretching capacity and requiring substantial additional taxpayer resources.
“As our city begins to seriously consider how to permanently close NYCHA’s capital needs gap, this report underscores the importance of successful execution,” said Tom Wright, President & CEO of Regional Plan Association. “NYCHA is a tremendously important resource not only for its residents and commercial tenants, but it has an outsized role on our whole regional economy. The effect of shuttering just a few buildings would ricochet across our region, creating a growth in homelessness and strain on our lower-rent housing market as well as instability of some of our key government services like education and transportation. We must treat NYCHA like the crucial economic engine it is.”
As Regional Plan Association moves into the next phase of its ongoing work on NYCHA, focusing on elucidating some of the more substantial challenges facing the agency as well as potential solutions to these challenges, Regional Plan Association is also announcing today that it will, shortly after the New Year, be forming an advisory council comprised of NYCHA residents, housing advocates, finance and policy experts and academics to advise and assist them with their work.
“NYCHA is an absolutely critical piece of New York City’s infrastructure – no less important than sewers, water and subways. Over many years, thanks in no small part to cuts in federal funding, the state of NYCHA’s physical plant has deteriorated to the point that its long-term viability is increasingly in question,” said Seth Pinsky, Regional Plan Association Board Member and Executive Vice President and Investment Manager of the RXR Metropolitan Emerging Market Strategy. “This should concern all New Yorkers. The impact of the loss of even a part of NYCHA’s housing inventory would be nothing short of catastrophic for the City, creating a human tragedy, deeply impacting the City’s economy and putting enormous strains on social services and taxpayers.”
“The RPA report nicely lays out an analysis of why all New Yorkers should care about restoring and preserving our public housing,” said David R. Jones, President & CEO of Community Service Society. “With city population projected to increase over the next decade, gentrification pressures and displacement of low-income New Yorkers will only intensify. For the New York community at large, it is vital that we preserve every existing unit of affordable housing.”
The report finds that NYCHA residents play a critical role in New York City’s economy, holding jobs at roughly the same rate as the population as a whole and representing a disproportionate percentage of the workforce in fields such as education, healthcare, transportation and manufacturing. Many NYCHA residents are also entrepreneurs, owning hundreds of local businesses themselves.
The spaces in NYCHA developments, which can be found across all five boroughs in a wide variety of neighborhoods, serve the broader community. NYCHA is home to 121, or nearly half, of the senior centers in New York City as well as 126 preschools and childcare facilities and nearly 200 acres of open recreational space.
For example: in areas with extremely high costs of commercial rental space, NYCHA is an invaluable resource. 14% of Manhattan’s Pre-K facilities are in NYCHA developments, even though NYCHA contains just 6% of children less than 5 years old in the borough.
NYCHA residents work all sorts of jobs throughout the city. In 2012, NYCHA and HR&A Associates found there were 88,000 working residents of NYCHA developments, with New York City Department of Education as the largest employer. Other large employers included private companies like Partners in Care, which provides home health care assistance, but were mainly governmental or other public agencies like the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), United States Postal Service and NYPD.
But NYCHA is also suffering from significant and growing deferred maintenance needs, many of which are reaching a critical point. The current estimate of capital need for NYCHA is $45.2 billion over 20 years, exceeding the projected costs to fix the subway, an amount that is forecast to grow at a rate of $700 million per year through additional deterioration if maintenance and repair needs are not sufficiently addressed.
RPA’s team, led by Moses Gates, Vice President, Housing & Neighborhood Planning, and Chris Jones, Senior Vice President for Research, explored what would happen if the City were to be unable to cover these deferred maintenance needs and, as a result, were to lose 10% of NYCHA’s units, a realistic figure given the dire conditions in many NYCHA buildings. This loss would send nearly 40,000 people scrambling for new homes, creating huge ripple effects on the availability of affordable housing, capacity at emergency shelters, and the businesses that depend on workers who live in low- and moderate- income housing, as well as on the resources of the City and its taxpayers.
About Regional Plan Association
Regional Plan Association is an independent, not-for-profit civic organization that develops and promotes ideas to improve the economic health, environmental resiliency and quality of life of the New York metropolitan area. We conduct research on transportation, land use, housing, good governance and the environment. We advise cities, communities and public agencies. And we advocate for change that will contribute to the prosperity of all residents of the region. Since the 1920s, RPA has produced four landmark plans for the region, the most recent was released in November 2017. For more information, please visit www.rpa.org or fourthplan.org.