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August 18, 2020
by Adam Roberts

With years of neglect leading to a backlog of maintenance needs, the woes of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) are nothing new to most New Yorkers. The deplorable conditions for residents have forced the agency to offer its most ambitious turnaround plan yet: the creation of a public benefit corporation, the Public Housing Preservation Trust. This trust would finance NYCHA maintenance work with vouchers, then hire NYCHA to act as a property manager, assuming a role comparable to the one the NYC School Construction Authority performs for the NYC Department of Education.

This latest plan follows years of controversy over attempts to fix NYCHA through privatization. Taking advantage of the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, NYCHA is placing many of its units under private management while still retaining ownership of the property. The agency has also embarked on an “infill” program to allow private development on its property. Both programs have roused a great number of critics.

Even with the latest plan for the trust being relatively well received, fixing NYCHA will not be easy, requiring a coordination between City, State, and Federal government. This seems particularly difficult to imagine considering political differences and personal animosities among government officials. For the plan to come to fruition, State approval is needed, while much of the funding would come from the Federal government.

The need to improve NYCHA has remained a priority for AIANY. Last month AIANY partnered with the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) and Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) on NYCHA Comprehensive Modernization, a program to improve the agency’s procurement practices. Despite the challenges that lie ahead for NYCHA, AIANY will continue its work to assist the agency.

Policy Points:

  • With the presidential election just a few months away, AIA National has released its new policy platform. The platform calls for major policy changes around the economy, climate action, and health and equitable communities. See more details here.
  • The latest round of RFPs for the NYC Department of Design and Construction’s Project Excellence Program will be released. In order to qualify for design work, firms will need to first be placed on a prequalified list. Responses to the architectural design services RFP are due by September 4, 2020.
  • If you have not done so already, you must fill out your US Census immediately. Census counting efforts will likely halt on September 30, 2020, which is earlier than expected. Census responses help determine how much funding New York receives for transportation, affordable housing, and other built environment priorities. Complete your census here.

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