Access to safe and affordable housing is one of the keys to prosperity. I understand that just as much as anyone else.
As a child, I grew up on the edge of homelessness. There were days when I had to take a trash bag full of clothes to school because we didn’t know where we would sleep the next night. No child should have to feel the angst or worry my siblings and I felt when we were younger. You cannot plan for the future if you are worried about the present, and that’s why our administration has acted urgently to tackle the housing crisis across our city, especially for New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents.
One in 17 New Yorkers live in NYCHA, our city’s public housing system. It is a critical piece of our city’s infrastructure, and we cannot solve our housing shortage without also fixing the problems that NYCHA faces. But for too long, NYCHA residents have been left out of the conversation and have not had a say in the future of their own homes. That is changing under this administration.
Our administration was the first to include NYCHA in our housing plan, recognizing that the federal government had abandoned its responsibility to adequately fund our public housing system, leaving residents living in unacceptable and dangerous conditions in crumbling buildings that need $80 billion in repairs. We knew the status quo could not continue. That is why we fought to create the NYCHA Trust, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to give residents control over their futures while simultaneously unlocking billions for repairs by tapping new federal funding streams.
Under the Trust, a development is kept 100 percent public while ensuring residents always maintain their rights — including permanently affordable rent. Another choice is the Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT) program, which similarly ensures that residents maintain their rights and permanently affordable rent, but unlocks funding for third-party PACT partners to complete comprehensive repairs.
Last month, the residents of NYCHA’s Nostrand Houses became the first development to vote on how they will fund much-needed renovations and repairs. After 100 days of public engagement, in which residents at Nostrand Houses learned about their options, they exercised the historic opportunity to decide what was right for them: enter the Trust, enter the PACT program, or maintain the traditional public housing financing model.
Their decision, and the decisions of other NYCHA residents to come, will shape the future of public housing in New York City for decades to come. NYCHA residents are now making their voices heard and making their own choices. That is how good government should work — and this is just the beginning. Next up is the Bronx River Addition, which has dealt with several severe infrastructure issues in recent years that caused tenants to be relocated in one of its two buildings. And in the coming weeks and months, other NYCHA campuses will vote as well.
As a blue-collar New Yorker, I know what it takes to survive and thrive in this city. Safe and affordable housing is the cornerstone to the American Dream. By fixing NYCHA housing and putting decisions into residents’ hands, we are on track to turn that dream into a reality.
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