Organizations Profiles Resources

NYCHA Uses Land Leases to Preserve Public Housing

The New York City Housing Authority, NYCHA, is the largest public housing authority in the country. NYCHA provides housing for over 600,000 residents in the city of 8 million, and every day more add their names to the waiting list. Housing prices in New York have skyrocketed, making it one of the most expensive places in the country to live. But despite a growing public need, the federal government has underfunded NYCHA for the past decade, amounting to a loss of $750 million for operations and $875 million for upkeep.

“Our buildings are 79 years old. They need care,” said Margarita Lopez, NYCHA Environmental Coordinator. “We need to figure out how to find the money to fix them. If we don’t fix them we will lose them.”

Though the current financial situation is still bleak, NYCHA has found a promising new way to raise extra revenue for maintaining and improving its buildings—most of which are more than 40 years old. The housing authority is proposing a plan that would lease 14 separate pieces of land owned by NYCHA to private developers.

These developers would then finance, construct and operate new residential buildings—with at least 20% of the apartments being designated as affordable public housing. That’s somewhere around 800 permanently low-income housing units, to which NYCHA residents would receive preference.

NYCHA estimates that through these leasing contracts, which would be 99-year ground leases, they could raise between $30 million and $50 million each year. Additionally, construction and permanent job opportunities would be generated with the developments, potentially helping to improve the lives of many NYCHA residents.

This seems like a great opportunity for New Yorkers, NYCHA, and NYCHA residents—especially considering the government doesn’t seem to be getting out of its financial rut anytime soon. The housing authority has vowed that no families would be displaced nor buildings destroyed, land would be leased and not sold (no privatization), job opportunities would open up, rent would not increase because of the new developments, NYCHA residents would have access to new security enhancements and features, and that money would go straight back into maintaining and preserving current developments.

“We are not going to lose in this equation in any way, shape or form,” said NYCHA’s Margarita Lopez.

“Not a single unit of public housing is going to disappear.”

Click here to read our full profile on Margarita Lopez, NYCHA’s Environmental Coordinator.