New York’s Public Housing Problem
Public housing across the country is home to 1.2 million households (and $27 billion of deferred maintenance costs), with the country’s largest public housing system in New York City. Originally designed to be working-class housing built through government financing and supported through rents, public housing has become home to the nation’s poorest groups, including the elderly, disabled, and single mothers.
Today’s public housing system in New York City is plagued with aging buildings, poor maintenance, and an overall declining state of disrepair. Alone, public housing contributes $6 billion of the nation’s overall deferred maintenance total. But, as Blair Stover sees it, help could be on the way.
The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is poised to undertake a new approach to public housing. Coined “Moving to Work,” the approach would introduce new ways of helping financially troubled housing agencies, courtesy of innovative public housing approaches. Moving to Work was first started during the Clinton administration, but is being furthered by the new HUD plan to infuse fresh approaches to the public housing problem and allow more of the nation’s housing authorities to experiment with such new approaches.
The new HUD Moving to Work plan would allow authorities to use federal aid to borrow in private capital markets, which opens up a new flow of capital improvement. Under the plan, public housing agencies that demonstrate that they are high capacity would have greater flexibility.
It’s expected that New York and its NYCHA could benefit from such a move, and be at the front of the line when it comes to welcoming fresh approaches to public housing. Moving to Work could help the public housing system repair its aging infrastructure, improve its maintenance, and better welcome those families who would benefit from an improved public housing climate.