The housing authority will receive about $230 million to go toward 21 developments that, unlike the city’s other public housing complexes, have not received any federal financing for the past seven years, the New York Times reports.
Funding will include federal stimulus money and public and private sources. The federal government will also provide another $75 million for the buildings’ annual operation costs.
The 21 public housing complexes will be sold to a limited partnership of the housing authority and Citigroup’s community development arm. According to the Times, the housing authority said the public and private partnership was the only way to secure the financing, and will not affect the complexes’ status as public housing.
“People were worried at first that existing residents would be displaced, or that rents would be jacked up to some form of market rate housing,” said John B. Rhea, chairman of the authority, the Times reports. “That won’t happen. Per the partnership agreement, it ensures they remain low-income housing in the future.”
Rehabilitation will include repairing roofs, brickwork and elevators.
The financing initiative, lauded by Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as “the most significant effort to preserve public housing in New York City history,” funds rehabilitation that would include repairing roofs, brickwork and elevators, which will create jobs for public housing tenants.
Under the partnership, the bank can receive profits through tax benefits and credits, but not from rents. Some have voiced cautions, considering that it is the first time some of the public housing complexes will be partly owned by a private bank.
City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, chairwoman of the Council’s Subcommittee on Public Housing, is concerned that the plan could lead privatization of the developments, the Times reports.
Yet the plan continues to draw much support from lawmakers and politicians.
"It's one of the most important things Washington can do for New York City, said Senator Chuck Schumer, who led the effort. “ It's not a one-time appropriation-- it's a continuing commitment."