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Mayor Michael Bloomberg had a victory in the state Legislature today after a measure to reform the New York City Housing Authority was sent to the governor for his signature.
The legislation does away with the $186,00 annual salaries they receive and adds three new members to the board. Three members will now be required to be residents of public housing. Board members will also no longer enjoy having a driver on call at all times as they do now.
“Across the country, cities have abandoned public housing, but we refused to do that," Bloomberg said in a statement. "We continued to invest and support our public housing system, and these reforms will help us continue to improve it — in spite of a decade cutbacks by Congress."
Bloomberg thanked Assemblyman Keith Wright and Sen. Marty Golden for their help moving the bill.
NYCHA is expected to go forward with layoffs, a hiring freeze and the closure of community centers as well as youth and senior programs because of the federal sequester. Almost 100,000 residents who receive reduced rent through a federal program will see their rent increase by up to $72 a month.
A record 50,000 people on average slept in city shelters this January, according to this new report by the Coalition for the Homeless. Over that same period, 1 percent of the city's youth - or 21,000 kids - spent the night in shelters, a 22 percent increase over the past year. Homeless families now spend over a year in shelters on average.
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About 200 homes that are so damaged they endanger public safety and other buildings nearby will need to be bulldozed, the Buildings Department said on Sunday. That is in addition to that 200 houses already destroyed by the storm. They are also inspecting nearly 500 other damaged structures the could be razed as well. The department said that â€śonly a very small numberâ€ť of the buildings slated for demolition were at risk of being razed without notice. Officials offered â€śas much assistance as possibleâ€ť to homeowners, including aid for demolition costs. The homes slated for removal are located in Breezy Point, Belle Harbor and Rockaway Beach in Queens; South Beach, Midland Beach and Fox Beach on Staten Island, and Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn.
In the Press...
Commission Approves Revised District Map for City Council (NY Times)
City Will Keep Gas Rationing Until Weekâ€™s End (NY Times)
Public Housing Caught Off Guard by Sandy (WNYC)
In many pockets throughout the city, the effects of Sandy are still being felt. It could be weeks before damaged hospitals reopen, but Mayor Bloomberg $500 million emergency plan for those hospitals and also public schools. Out of the city's 1,750 schools, 37 remain shuttered. Public housing residents who still have no power will receive a rent credit for their time without services, but not until January. Rockaway is still a demolition zone and mold is becoming a large concern. The city is launching "one-stop restoration centers" that will provide recovery services and disaster relief. The extra money Gov. Cuomo requested from the federal government is far from definite.
In the Press...
Gov. Cuomo to Probe Utilities' Response to Storm (NY Post)
Flood Insurance, Already Fragile, Faces New Stress (NY Times)
City Unions Waiting Out Mayor's Term (Wall Street Journal)
Officials have been meeting with the real estate industry in an effort to pair vacant apartments with those displaced by storm damage.
Half of those still without power in the city, some 35,000 residents, live in public housing. Residents and public officials have panned the housing authority's response to the storm. The tenants will be eligible for rent credits for the days they've been without power.
The Long Island Power Authority told hundreds of powerless Rockaway residents they would need to hire a licensed city electrician to inspect their homes before LIPA could restore power. Con Ed said Wednesday's norâ€™easter knocked out power to 55,000 customers in New York City and Westchester. And LIPA blamed 60,000 new outages on the storm.
As Shortfall Looms, Bloomberg Plans Cuts (NY Times)
The public advocate wants the city agency responsible for overseeing the construction of affordable housing to make sure it doesnâ€™t contract with potential crooks.
Bill de Blasio announced earlier today that he had sent the commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development a letter urging the agency to review all current contracts and suspend any involving companies that might be under investigation.
De Blasio said he was spurred to write the letter following reports that an executive at a company bidding for projects with HPD is under investigation for bribery.
â€śWe need to take commonsense precautions any time there is a chance a company bribed its way to city business,â€ť De Blasio said in a statement earlier today.
Catie Marshall, an HPD spokeswoman, said the agency does extensive background checks on all developers and contractors to identify whether they may have been convicted or have been involved in any violations.
Buildings Department inspectors this year gained access to suspected illegal conversions less than half the time - a rate similar to that of previous years. And the departmentâ€™s response time to nonemergency complaints, including illegal apartments, actually got worse. Last year Mayor Bloomberg had committed to cracking down on illegal apartment conversions after two fatal fires. The administration counters that it has increased its focus on the highest risk locations.
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According to the New York Building Congress, $6.6 billion worth of construction projects were started in New York City in the first half of 2012, a 16 percent decline from the first half of 2011. But the value of residential construction starts more than doubled, jumping to $1.9 billion in the first six months of 2012.
Nearly one-third of regulated housing units in East Harlem will lose their rent protection by 2040, according to this survey by the Regional Plan Association.