Why do we think that development is pending?
In 2011, Congress created a new way for housing authorities in cities around the country to convert their buildings from public housing to Project Based Section 8 via a program called Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD). RAD is being used in cities around the country and advocates are organizing in response.
Instead of being owned by the housing authority, after RAD conversion developments will be owned by companies. Private developers own shares of these companies; housing authorities can own shares, too. This allows the authorities to draw on possibly more secure federal funding and to bring in private money invested by individuals and companies taking advantage of tax credits, bond issues and the possibility of making money from the rent that current and future tenants pay.
NYCHA will continue to own the land and lease it to a company shared by it and a private development partner that will own the buildings. Management will be done by a private company. NYCHA can control what the company does via the land lease and via its agreement with the private development partner.
The key tenant protections that public housing residents have in New York survive a RAD conversion:
- all units in the converted development must remain permanently affordable (rent cannot exceed 30% of resident income)
- residents continue to have the same succession opportunities
- grievance procedures
- residents retain the right to establish and operate a resident organization
Developers will be required to propose a plan to train and hire NYCHA residents, and proactively engage residents on a regular basis as the project moves forward.
But that’s just the skeleton. The details are what will shape every resident’s experience of the conversion.
Housing authorities need specific approval from HUD to put any federally-funded public housing into RAD. HUD requires a public housing authority to have meetings with twice residents before applying and to include resident comments in the application itself. After HUD gives a preliminary green light, the housing authority needs to include the conversion in a written Annual Plan or Amendment and receive comments from residents. But HUD’s approval is just one step in the process.
Since the program was announced, residents and advocates in New York have been working with NYCHA to hammer out an implementation plan for NYC.
Betances I is one of the NYCHA’s properties that was entered into RAD program. The application for 275 units within Betances I is in the middle of RAD conversion process. It was awarded CHAP (Commitment to enter into Housing Assistance Payment) status on January 11, 2017. CHAP status means that HUD reviewed the application for a specific housing development and allowed NYCHA to start the process of privatization. The expected conversion date listed by HUD is November 7, 2017.
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