Statement of Nancy Wackstein, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses
On NYCHA Deficit Reduction Actions
June 17, 2013
The drastic actions that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) announced last week to reduce its $205 million budget deficit will have a real and troubling impact on thousands of New Yorkers and their neighborhoods. Essential human service programs, including community centers and senior centers, will be closed in NYCHA developments. Rent increases to keep up with inflation for tenants subsidized by federal Section 8 vouchers will be eliminated. Some NYCHA developments will have neither NYCHA nor nonprofit supported services available to them, likely increasing the numbers of low-income households at risk of spiraling into homelessness.
New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development and Department for the Aging are to be applauded for quickly taking positive steps to fund services for many of the neighborhoods that will be affected by the closing of NYCHA community centers and senior centers. However, many neighborhoods and NYCHA developments still will completely lose these services. There is no relief for Section 8 tenants facing rent increases.
These cuts are the tragic result of the decades-long abandonment of public housing by all levels of government manifested most recently in the cuts made through the blunt and wrong-headed federal sequestration process. Public housing is an important investment and represents essential support for New York City’s low-income and working communities. The federal government has all but said “drop dead” to NYCHA, and it is shameful.