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NYCHA enlists private developers to oversee repairs, daily operations

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The city has announced a plan that puts private developers in control of 62,000 public housing apartments


Update: It’s official: The city will move forward with public-private partnerships to bring repairs to 62,000 NYCHA apartments.

Mayor Bill de Blasio officially announced the partnership, stating that the apartments will remain permanently affordable and will be converted to Section 8 units, where rent will be no more than 30 percent of a tenants income. Renovations will include replacing windows, boilers, roofs, and updating bathrooms and kitchens. Maintenance and operations will be helmed by private managers.

“We have an opportunity to undo decades of neglect and mismanagement, and we have to take it,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement. These partnerships are one of our best-proven tools to deliver critical repairs.”

The Rental Assistance Demonstration program is one of the companies that the city has formed a partnership with. Conversions are expected to get underway at 21 developments across Manhattan and Brooklyn next month.

After a federal judge struck down a proposed settlement between the United States attorney’s office and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), stating that the federal monitor it aimed to appoint wouldn’t be involved enough in daily activities and would have too little focus on enforcement, the troubled agency is considering enlisting private landlords to oversee the day-to-day management of 62,000 NYCHA apartments, reports the New York Times.

NYCHA is mulling a plan that would not only hand over management of repairs and renovations to private landlords, but is also considering selling unused air rights to developers in order for them to construct market-rate buildings on underused land at NYCHA developments. Per documents obtained by the Times, the plan could generate as much as $15 billion for desperately needed repairs.

“We simply cannot address people’s needs if we don’t get a huge amount of resources in. That’s what this plan will ultimately address, said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a interview. “It’s ways to bring in a lot more money to help fix developments.”

Though the plan hasn’t been finalized, it would likely be done through a federal program called Rental Assistance Demonstration program, (R.A.D.) that would allow the apartments to be converted to the federal government’s Section 8 housing program and would let developers lease the buildings from the Housing Authority.

Some residents have expressed concerns about the possibility of being forced out of their homes if private developers took over. Legal Aid Society lawyer Lucy Newman says that major protections” need to be involved to make sure that doesn’t happen, should the city decide to move forward with the plan. Additionally, NYCHA employees are calling for protections that guarantee the continuance of their employment with the agency.