Why It Matters: New York depends on NYCHA.
Deterioration of living conditions in the city’s public housing system has far-reaching implications.
NYCHA’s developments are home to more than 330,000 people, a population larger than that of Orlando or Pittsburgh.
While more than 40 percent of the families living in NYCHA homes have at least one person who works, the agency estimatesthe system is also increasingly a source of housing for the city’s growing number of older people on fixed incomes.
NYCHA homes are also unique pockets of affordability in one of the most expensive places to live in the world. Rents for public housing residents tend to be capped at 30 percent of their income, and the average rent is less than $560 a month.
The apartments are highly sought after; nearly 275,000 families were on the waiting list for NYCHA housing this year.
Background: NYCHA has a history of challenges.
New York’s public housing system was once heralded as a progressive triumph. But since most of NYCHA’s buildings were built in the mid-20th century, many are due for upgrades and repairs.
The state of the system has become a major flashpoint in wider political battles over the future of housing. Politicians on the left argue that all levels of government should do more to preserve and even expand the role of public housing, while NYCHA’s dysfunction is a frequent punching bag for politicians on the right.
The federal government in past decades has not provided enough funding to maintain the developments, resulting in the growing repair backlog, but the agency has also been criticized for inefficiency and mismanagement.
After a federal investigation, the city reached a settlement in 2019 that led to the appointment of a federal monitor to examine NYCHA’s progress in addressing some of its most pressing problems, including lead, mold and heating failures.
What’s next: The city strives for solutions.
Different mayoral administrations have sought to address NYCHA’s needs in different ways. Mayor Eric Adams has made shifting the developments to private management — through a federal program created by President Barack Obama’s administration — his biggest focus.
That could allow the agency to seize billions of dollars in loans and grants, and could also lead to the demolition of some buildings. The first goals for the program are two developments in Chelsea. The agency said the plan had the support of most residents, but it came up under fire from housing activists who say that residents were not properly consulted and that some could be displaced.
A new public benefit corporation, created by the state last year, could also provide access to more funds.
NYCHA also has new leadership: Mr. Adams last week appointed Lisa Bova-Hiatt as chief executive, following her stint as interim head of the agency, and Jamie Rubin, a former state housing and storm recovery official, as president.