Public housing apartments in New York City are in far worse condition than nonpublic housing — and have remained in a deteriorated state over the past four years — while private-sector units improved, a new study set for release Wednesday has found.
The Citizens Budget Commission analyzed Census Bureau data that looked at the condition of 19,000 city apartments, including 800 NYCHA units, comparing conditions in 2014 with last year.
The NYCHA units remained in poor shape year after year, while the private-sector units steadily improved, the data show.
In public housing, for example, 41% of the surveyed tenants said their apartments had broken plaster and peeling paint in 2014 and in 2017. In 2017 some 12% of private apartment tenants made the same complaint, down from 17% in 2014.
The same pattern emerged for water leaks, a persistent problem in NYCHA’s aging buildings where 60% of the authority’s 176,000 apartments are more than 50 years old.
In 2014, 28% of NYCHA residents surveyed said they endured this problem; in 2017 it was 30%. In 2014 some 18% of private sector tenants complained about this problem; last year it was down to 14%.
And NYCHA apartments were consistently in worse repair than all versions of private sector units, including rent-stabilized and those publicly subsidized under the state’s Mitchell Lama program, the data shows.
Plagued by diminishing federal funds and repeat revelations of mismanagement and coverups, the authority has long struggled to provide habitable conditions for its 400,000 tenants. NYCHA this year estimated it would take $32 billion to address all its building fixups, a jump from $17 billion last year.
“The state of public housing is significantly worse than the conditions enjoyed by residents of other housing throughout the city,” said Sean Campion, senior research associate at the CBC. “If nothing is done or the status quo continues, then conditions are going to continue to get worse and it will become much more expensive to repair units.”
Campion said CBC has concluded that unless the authority is able to dramatically increase its resources to upgrade buildings, “within a decade probably a significant share of NYCHA housing will no longer be cost-effective to repair.
“There is time now to actually be aggressive and come up with a plan to bring as much of the system back to good repair as you can,” he said. “The moment to act is now.”
In July the CBC pressed NYCHA to pursue more support from the federal government for repairs via a public-private partnership program initiated by the Obama administration called the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD).
The authority turns over management of the units to private developers but retains ownership of the buildings. The developers fix up the buildings and then pocket all the rent collected.
Four years ago Mayor de Blasio proposed upgrading 15,000 units via tje assistance program, but so far only 1,400 have been completed. De Blasio recently announced an effort to greatly increase the number of RAD apartments citywide.