After all my years in this business, you would think that I would have become inured to - or just simply beaten down by - misguided policy decisions. But, no. This week, UNH issued a new report, “Off Target: How Cuts to Child Care and After-School Leave Out Public Housing Communities” (download here), which documents the impact of recent City administration policy decisions on public housing developments. The flawed policy which focuses cuts to child care and after-school programs in “non-targeted” zip codes, where the City claims there is less need for programs because of the wealthy residents, would devastate more than 77,000 low-income New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents that live in pockets of poverty in these neighborhoods.
NYCHA is one of the most important resources for low-income people in New York City today. In fact, very soon it will be pretty much the only affordable housing available to low and moderate income people, as neighborhoods throughout the City gentrify and the cost of rental housing continues to skyrocket. I have a warm place in my heart for NYCHA. One of my favorite jobs as a young college graduate was at NYCHA’s East River Houses, l06 Street and the East River, where I worked as a Housing Assistant in the l970s. It gave me great respect for NYCHA’s mission and the people who work there. Many UNH member agencies operate day care centers, senior centers and after-school programs in NYCHA developments, and do a great job of providing safe and supportive places for families, kids and older adults. We are part of the reason NYCHA housing remains stable and desirable. Yet, recent decisions by the Administration for Childrens Services (ACS) regarding allocation of scarce money for child care and by the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) regarding funding for afterschool programs will mean that many public housing communities will lose these essential services. Short-sighted and wrong-headed policymaking, I think.