The troubled New York City Housing Authority revealed to reporters today that it would announce the first round of requests-for-proposals from developers looking to build 50/50 market rate/affordable buildings on parcels of the authority’s land—a crucial step toward balancing NYCHA’s infamously strapped finances and contributing toward Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious affordable housing plan.
At a press briefing at NYCHA’s downtown offices, a spokeswoman told the press that it remained unclear whether the initial phase of RFPs will be for vacant lots on two, three or four of the authority’s 328 public housing developments. The construction will be part of the de Blasio administration’s kitchen-sink “NextGeneration” plan intended to turn the authority from running hundred million yearly operating deficits to running equally large annual surpluses—and the authority continued to refuse to confirm or deny whether it would sell parcels to the developers of the mixed-income buildings.
“The three values that are guiding our plan for the 50/50, which we are very much in the midst of, are generating revenues for the authority so we become financially stable, generating units, affordable housing units for the mayor’s housing plan,” said Karina Totah, special advisor to Mr. de Blasio’s NYCHA Chairwoman Shola Olatoye, though she maintained the authority would have the ultimate power over any development on its land. “And that we, NYCHA, in any scenario, remain in the driver’s seat and have decision-making authority regarding the longterm affordability of the units in any scenario.”
It is still unclear how many 50/50 developments there will be and where they will be located. The “infill” of unused NYCHA with new, privately managed developments is expected to produce 17,500 new low-cost apartments and reap the authority some $200 million over the next decade.
NextGeneration calls for 10,000 units of below-market housing aimed at families earning less than $46,000 a year, but the authority acknowledged that purely affordable developments by definition will generate relatively little revenue compared to new 50/50 buildings.
“The 100-percent affordable development will generate minimal fees, since it’s affordable, it’s subsidized,” Ms. Totah said.
The city has already issued RFPs for 400 to 500 units of completely below-market housing—much of it aimed at seniors—at two public housing developments in Brooklyn and one in the Bronx. NYCHA will select developers for those sites by the end of the year.
Updated to clarify that the city will announce the sites for mixed-income development next month, but not yet issue the RFPs.