Preservation or Privatization: NYC Implements Federal RAD Program

As the City itself willingly admits, public housing is “extraordinarily important” in housing the residents of NYC. And yet, today that housing stock and the tenants it houses are at risk on multiple fronts. First, a lack of funding from all levels of government have contributed to dilapidated and deteriorating building and apartment conditions. For tenants, these manifest as leaky roofs, pipes and faucets, widespread mold and rodent and bug infestations, unreliable heating systems, broken elevators and more. Buildings are literally crumbling around tenants, and cause other infrastructure concern like the unit that exploded at a Brooklyn development a couple years ago. These conditions threaten tenants physical and mental health, and their lives.

To get a better sense of the issues tenants have, view this overview and map created by the Justice For All Coalition, who has been working with tenants to formally document their repair needs and take action to get their needs met.

Second, the City’s solution, known as NextGeneration NYCHA or NYCHA 2.0, also threatens tenants. Originally released in 2015, the final version of the plan updated in December 2018 includes three mechanisms which the City says will generate a cash flow to address repairs.

The most robust tool know as PACT, is a repackaging of the federal program, RAD or Rental Assistance Demonstration. RAD transitions units from Section 9, or public housing, to Section 8, the voucher program, and places buildings under private management.

The map below is an attempt to track and investigate what buildings are being allocated, to whom, what the tenant response to the transition is, and what the consequences ultimately are for tenants. So far, there is limited information, and even less has been sorted and organized for investigation.

This seems especially important for a few reasons:

  1. Ocean Bay Houses, where the City piloted the program, had the highest rate of eviction in the city in 2017 – and it was two times higher than the rate of any other development in the city.
  2. RAD has had negative consequences for public housing tenants across the country.
  3. Humans live in these developments. Understanding how these changes will effect them is important, period.
  4. Many tenants in public housing are seniors, or are essential workers that maintain the city – from nurses, to teachers, to sanitation, postal and city administrative workers. We all have a vested interest in better supporting these residents.
  5. Public housing is housing of last resort for many of its 400,000+ households, meaning that displacement means homelessness.

This project will continue to evolve as time and information becomes available. This research is conducted alongside the organizing efforts by the Justice For All Coalition.

Using the Map:

  • At first, the markers are clustered. As you zoom in, they will disperse to their developments.
  • The markers are buildings that have been converted or identified for conversion.
  • The red shapes on the map are all NYCHA developments across the city (NYC Open Data).
  • You can make the map full screen by going to the menu at the top-right of the map and clicking the icon that is box with the 4 arrows pointing out.

Additional Resources:

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