Expanding Resident Democracy at NYCHA
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is home to 400,000 New Yorkers. In spite of the City’s various attempts to have the authority to weigh in on decisions that impact their lives, NYCHA has fallen short to substantively expand resident participation and democracy.
More Residents on the NYCHA Board
NYCHA is governed by a Board of seven members appointed by the mayor, including three NYCHA residents. Members’ duties include voting on contracts, resolutions, policies, motions, rules and regulations at regularly scheduled meetings.
A Yang Administration will advocate for a change to State law and expand the NYCHA Board to a total of eleven members, five non-residents and six residents, who can substantively inform the work of the Agency. By expanding the governance structure and size of the NYCHA Board, tenants will have an opportunity to substantively shape the Agency’s decisions.
Make the Most Use of Tenant Participation Activity Funds
Support Full Usage of Funds
Tenant Participation Activity (TPA) funds are funds provided by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to support resident engagement and meet community needs. The funding can be used to support activities that range from skills training programs to office supplies in support of Resident Council functions. One of the many functions of NYCHA Resident Councils is to determine the use of TPA funds to plan tenant activities.
Unfortunately, as many as one-third of NYCHA developments do not have functioning resident councils, which leaves the sorely needed funding in languish. In a 2016 City Council Committee on Public Housing Hearing, NYCHA testified that it accrued approximately $13.5 million in unspent TPA funds before 2016.
A Yang administration would prevent these funds from going unused by appointing a community-based organization (CBO), chosen by residents, to provide services to NYCHA developments, including overseeing the allocation of TPA, in situations where there is no resident council. CBOs would be required to administer TPA funds through a participatory budgeting process that resembles the best practices already piloted citywide, and previously proposed by the City Council. This will ensure that all NYCHA developments have an opportunity for resident democracy and to thrive with the resources allocated by HUD for use, consistent with residents’ needs.
Reducing Allowable Overhead of TPA Funds
HUD allocates annual TPA funds to NYCHA based on a formula of $25 per unit of occupied public housing, but NYCHA takes up to 40% of allocated funds ($10 per unit at full subsidy), and uses the money to administer the program.
In a City that currently expects nonprofit service providers to only allocate 10% of their costs to indirect expenses, the City should be a model in efficiency. A Yang Administration would ensure that NYCHA takes no more than 10% of TPA funds to administer the program, putting more resources in the hands of residents.
Prohibit Luxury Infill Development and Require All Projects on NYCHA Land to Adhere to ULURP
Infill at NYCHA is no way to raise the level revenue that the system needs. There is currently no public process accessible to residents that allows residents to determine how land on their property is utilized. In addition to prohibiting all luxury development at NYCHA property, a Yang Administration will require all development that is being considered on NYCHA property to go through the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) process.