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February 5th, 2021

Andrew Yang and Congressman Torres Release Green Revolution Plan for Public Housing, Propose Democratizing NYCHA Leadership

**RELEASE** February 5th, 2021

New York, NYToday, Andrew Yang, Democratic Candidate for Mayor of New York City, announced  the first part of his plan to rebuild and reform the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). In addition to fighting for the necessary funding from the State and Federal government, Yang is pledging to invest in a Green New Deal for public housing in NYC, including abolishing carbon pollution by eliminating gas in all NYCHA developments, drastically accelerating deep energy retrofits, and committing to adding solar power to every NYCHA roof by 2030.

Yang will also seek to democratize NYCHA’s management by fighting for a State law to expand the authority’s board to a total of eleven members, five non-residents and six residents, who can substantively inform the work of the Agency.

Said Andrew Yang, “The brutal truth is one of the worst landlords in New York City is the City itself, and that’s a legacy we have an obligation to undo. Over 400,000 New Yorkers live in public housing, and yet, we have let years of underinvestment and mismanagement leave every one of them in unacceptable, often unlivable conditions. We can’t afford to wait any longer to bring the crucial, structural changes needed to bring NYCHA into the future. I’m going to fight like hell to make sure we get New York’s public housing communities get every dollar they deserve, both in Albany and DC, but a $48 billion check won’t mean anything unless we invest that money wisely and fundamentally change how NYCHA responds to the needs of tenants.”

Said Congress Member Ritchie Torres, “We all know that NYCHA faces devastating structural and financial challenges that must be addressed in order to ensure more than 400,000 residents are able to keep their homes. We need bold solutions that meet the needs of tenants and put them first. Andrew Yang’s commitment to greening NYCHA and giving residents a seat at the management table are policies that will improve living conditions in public housing. Andrew isn’t just the fighter we need in City Hall, he’s exactly the kind of leader we need to stand by our side in Congress so New York gets the funding it deserves to move these policies forward.”

Recent polling by Data for Progress shows widespread support for a Green New Deal for Public Housing, with 71% of New Yorkers supporting it.

Said Danielle Deiseroth, Senior Climate Analyst at Data for Progress, “With near unanimous support for this proposal, it is clear that voters both in New York City and nationwide support these critical measures outlined in the Green New Deal for NYCHA that will create hundreds of thousands of new good-paying jobs and improve the health and safety of public housing. This is the path to not just decarbonizing New York City, but empowering public housing residents and advancing the environmental justice agenda New Yorkers deserve.”

Crumbling infrastructure, a backlog of repairs, rampant mold and lead have resulted in health problems, psychological strain and poor quality of life for our most vulnerable. Compared to the City average, NYCHA apartments have twice the rate of cockroach infestations, heating breakdown, broken toilets, and water leakages, making NYCHA residents twice as likely as the New York average to suffer poor health.

Said NY State Assembly Member Ron Kim, “As a senior member of the Assembly’s Committee on Housing, I have experienced too many promises made to upgrade and invest in NYCHA that were never kept. It is refreshing to stand with Andrew Yang who clearly understands that everything starts and ends with public housing. From a real Green New Deal, sustainable jobs, and an inclusive economy, our city’s future depends on how we rebuild and invest into our public housing. Thank you Andrew for your bold plans to get us there.”

As mayor, Yang will prioritize securing the $48 billion in needed funding from the federal government to make repairs and capital improvements, ensuring that all improvements to the system are aligned with ambitious environmental goals.

Yang also plans to advocate for a change to State law that would expand the NYCHA Board to a total of 11 members, five non-residents and six residents. By expanding the governance structure and size of the NYCHA Board, tenants will have an opportunity to substantively shape the Agency’s decisions. Currently, 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.

Continued Yang, “People know how best to solve their own problems, which is why we need to make sure NYCHA residents have a seat at the table when it comes to how the government is investing to fix their communities.”

As mayor, Andrew Yang plans to Fight to secure $48 billion for capital repairs from the federal government. As NYCHA developments struggled through decades of disinvestment, with expected repair costs now total $32 billion over five years and $46 billion over 20 years, a Yang administration would use its deep relationships in Washington, DC, to secure at least $48 billion in funding to cover all capital needs at NYCHA and realize the tangible goals of a Green New Deal.

Bringing a Green New Deal to NYCHA

New York City recently passed bold legislation, the Climate Mobilization Act, which requires most big buildings to reduce their emissions by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Although NYCHA does not face the same penalties as other landlords if it does not comply with the law, NYCHA can take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity, and lead on progressive decarbonization efforts. This includes passive house standards, energy and water efficiency, electrification of fossil-fuel based heating systems and investments in renewable energy and clean jobs. Yang’s plan includes:

  • Investing in clean jobs and economic development. A “Green New Deal” will create up to 325,519 jobs in New York City over 10 years, which according to Data for Progress, would result in a citywide economic impact of up to $96 billion in local economic activity. Priority for installation training and jobs will be given to NYCHA residents. A Yang administration would also invest in job training for NYCHA residents, especially in green jobs, including work with philanthropists to expand this funding and ensure we bring these resources to as many NYCHA developments as possible.
  • Abolishing NYCHA’s carbon pollution by eliminating gas from all NYCHA buildings, reducing energy use, and procuring electricity from 100% renewable sources. A Data for Progress Report indicates that these actions “would cut NYCHA’s annual carbon emissions to zero by 2030--a 2.3 million ton reduction of carbon per year, which is equivalent to taking 453,243 cars off the road.”
  • Accelerating deep energy retrofits such as upgrades to windows, the building’s outer cladding and its core energy systems, which would also reduce multiple drivers of mold and pest infestation. This will require appliance upgrades such as heat pumps, new stoves, leak-proof low-flow toilets, and new fridges (though NYCHA has made some progress on turning over toilets and fridges already).
  • A commitment to putting solar on every NYCHA roof by 2030. NYCHA buildings are a clear candidate because they have flat/exposed roofs with no mechanical equipment because none of the buildings are centrally cooled. Eventually all energy will come from zero-carbon sources like wind and solar.
  • Rid NYCHA of Mold & Lead by putting a permanent Ombudsman in charge. Creating a healthy and safe home for every NYCHA resident is imperative. In 2017, the Department of Investigations (DOI) released a damning report confirming that NYCHA had been lying for years about its lead paint inspections and falsely certifying its compliance in documents to HUD, putting thousands of children at great risk. A Yang administration would support the creation of a mold Ombudsperson. Recently, a federal judge appointed an Ombudsperson to assess NYCHA tenants’ complaints about leak, mold and excess moisture repair orders but the court order expires in 2021. Yang intends to follow that same model, not only appointing a permanent independent Ombudsman with legal authority to investigate, bring charges and compel repairs, but also making a concerted tenant outreach effort, ensuring that all NYCHA residents utilize this enforcement tool to their advantage.

A Green New Deal for NYCHA would also have a significant cost savings impact. Smart retrofits will both improve resident quality of life and help NYCHA realize dramatic utility savings overtime that would improve NYCHA’s long term financing.  Other cities, which began retrofitting over a decade ago, such as Toronto, Boston and Paris have realized 20-40% carbon emission reductions that resulted in energy savings in their public housing developments. New York City can do this too. Estimates show that a Green New Deal for NYCHA would save 35-70% of current energy costs, realizing $100 to $398 million a year in savings.

Yang is also proposing plans to:

  • Make the most use of Tenant Participation Activity (TPA) funds. TPA funds, provided by the UDS Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), support resident engagement and meet community needs, allowing for the NYCHA Resident Councils 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. A Yang administration would appoint a community-based organization (CBO), chosen by residents, to provide services to NYCHA developments 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 by the City Council.
  • 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.

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