Ahead of Budget Release, NYC Lawmakers Press for Housing Funds
Washington, DC –Democratic Members of the New York City Congressional delegation are calling on the Trump Administration to spare the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) from significant cuts in President Trump’s budget.
In a letter to HUD Secretary Carson and Office of Management and Budget Director Mulvaney, the Members of Congress expressed concern that preliminary budget documents suggest the Administration will propose a 13% reduction in HUD’s public housing operating fund and a 66% reduction in HUD’s public housing capital fund.
“Rather than inflating our military budget by slashing programs important to working families and seniors, we need to be investing in quality, affordable housing for all Americans,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) who led the delegation in writing the letter. “We will stand united in pressing the Administration to make wise investments in housing, not cut vital services.”
On March 3rd, Velázquez hosted a strategy breakfast with New York State Assembly leaders, New York City Councilmembers, and other city officials to discuss how to preserve funding for NYCHA. President Trump’s initial budget outlines is expected to be released Thursday.
The text of the letter is below.
March 15, 2017
Honorable Dr. Ben Carson
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20410
Honorable Mick Mulvaney
United States Office of Management of Budget
725 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20503
Dear Secretary Carson and Director Mulvaney:
We write to you on a matter of pressing concern for the New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA”) and New York City in general. NYCHA is the largest public housing authority in the nation and plays a pivotal role in New York City’s affordable housing plan. NYCHA provides safe and affordable housing to more than 400,000 working individuals and families in 328 public housing developments across the City’s five boroughs.
President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) which have been widely reported and not yet refuted by the administration, threaten the very future of the housing authority and the quality and availability of housing for more than 400,000 New Yorkers that call it home.
Given the inveterate and increasing difficulty of finding an affordable place to live in a crowded, growing and vibrant place like New York City, where our future economic growth is directly connected to our ability to adequately provide affordable housing for our working families and seniors, now is not a time to disinvest further and risk losing valuable affordable housing in New York City and across the country. Due to years of underinvestment, recent estimates indicate that NYCHA has a $17 billion backlog in needed major capital improvements and repairs. As a result, far too many residents residing in approximately 178,000 NYCHA apartments are struggling with increasingly sub-standard living conditions.
Excessive moisture in NYCHA buildings due to leaky roofs, crumbling bricks, and old piping has led to a severe mold problem in NYCHA units. This is particularly problematic for residents with asthma, as these conditions may aggravate symptoms, which has been found at a higher rate among public housing residents than other populations of the city. In fact, one study found that asthma prevalence among low-income children is nearly two times higher than rates among other children across New York City.
Preliminary budget documents reveal the White House is considering more than $6 billion in cuts to HUD, and, while we understand that President Trump’s official budget request will not be available until later this week, we believe that the President’s proposed increase to defense spending—a reportedly historic $54 billion increase—should not come at the expense HUD’s public and other affordable housing programs.
Further review of these preliminary budget documents indicates an approximately 13% reduction in HUD’s public housing operating fund and an 66% reduction in HUD’s public housing capital fund. HUD’s public housing operating fund is expected to be reduced to $3.9 billion from the FY 2016 enacted level of $4.5 billion and HUD’s public housing capital fund is expected to decrease to $600 million from the FY 2016 enacted level of $1.8 billion.
As applied to NYCHA, a 13% cut to the public housing operating fund would result in fewer maintenance staff, longer response times for completing apartment repairs, and acceleration of deterioration of units. Reducing public housing capital funding by 66% would prevent NYCHA from keeping current on basic building repairs, much less moving forward on the authority’s five-year capital plan. Cuts to HUD would also exacerbate NYCHA’s $17 billion capital needs backlog and intensify the public health crisis facing its residents.
We urge you not to cut funding to our nation’s public and affordable housing programs, which are already being squeezed by sequestration budget caps. NYCHA receives approximately 70 percent of its operating funding and almost all of its capital repair funding from HUD and the impact of these cuts to the working individuals and families in NYCHA units could be dire. HUD’s programs are vital to the future stability and sustainability of NYCHA and other public housing authorities around the country. Instead, we urge you to propose targeted increases to HUD’s public housing programs in order to improve the lives and living conditions for NYCHA, and all public housing authority, residents.
As a former real estate developer, in New York City, President Trump should understand the fundamental role NYCHA plays in our city and how a targeted investment strategy to HUD’s public housing programs could not only improve the lives and living conditions for NYCHA residents, but could also be an engine for job creation and urban revitalization—two of his stated priorities.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.
Nydia M. Velazquez
José E. Serrano
# # #