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City considers more market-rate housing on ‘underutilized’ NYCHA land

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A shift in policy could bring in more revenue for the beleaguered agency

New York City Forced To Pay 2 Billion In Settlements Over The City’s Housing Authorities’ Multiple Violations Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The De Blasio administration’s plan to bring private developments to public housing land could be undergoing a big shift—from mostly affordable housing to largely market-rate housing.

Currently, under the NYCHA NextGen Neighborhoods program, the city can partner with developers to bring low-income or a mix of market-rate and affordable housing to sites that have been deemed underutilized, such as parking lots. But now, Politico reports that the mayor is now considering allowing developers to build 100 percent market-rate on those sites.

NYCHA’s funding troubles are well-documented: Years of disinvestment and neglect, combined with a drop in federal funding, have put the beleaguered agency in dire need of additional revenue sources. A recent investigation found that NYCHA needs $32 billion for repairs to its buildings throughout the five boroughs.

Creating more market-rate housing would be one way to do that; under the NextGen plan, revenue from the buildings going up on NYCHA land goes back to the agency.

A NYCHA spokesperson told Politico that “nothing is off the table” when it comes to finding new revenue sources, though they did not confirm the policy shift is happening.

Many NYCHA residents have also pushed back against bringing 100 percent market-rate housing to their buildings, fearing gentrification and and loss of services (such as parking) in their developments. So far, the city has advanced plans to bring new housing to sites in Boerum Hill and the Upper East Side, and is seeking developers for sites in the Lower East Side and East Williamsburg. None of those developments are 100 percent market-rate, though another project in Hell’s Kitchen could see the creation of far more luxury apartments than affordable ones.

If the city does shift its policy, it will likely have the support of NYCHA’s new head, Stan Brezenoff, who stepped into the role after Shola Olatoye resigned last year. He recently told Politico that “[t]he end result of market rate is more money for us”—money that is clearly sorely needed.