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Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez

Representing the 7th District of New York

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Velazquez Applauds Community Effort to Pass Housing Bill

Velázquez Applauds Community Effort to Pass Housing Bill
August 16, 2007
Press Release

NEW YORK – Yesterday, Governor Elliot Spitzer signed into law legislation to increase shelter allowance parity between Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) and private landlords. This important legislation will increase public housing funding by tens of millions of dollars annually once the measures are fully phased in, helping the  New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) address its budget deficits and improve public housing in the City.

“This funding is critical to the success of New York City public housing and this support has been years in the making,” Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez said. “I am pleased that this outdated model has finally been eliminated and that this step has been taken to maintain decent, public housing. Today the State has renewed its commitment to affordable housing throughout New York City.”

During the fiscal crisis of the 1970’s the NYCHA agreed to a reduced shelter allowance payment—less than half of what is paid to private landlords. Efforts have been made to reduce this disparity, but under current law, NYCHA would have to wait eight to ten years to use the maximum shelter allowance in rent calculations. With yesterday’s signage of NYS Senate Bill 4329/NYS Assembly Bill 7905, this wait will be reduced to only three years, helping to ease the burden on PHAs already strained resources. Given NYCHA’s projected $225 million budget deficit for 2007, this legislation is crucial.

“NYCHA had been planning to implement cost cutting measures due to their financial problems which could have compromised the quality of public housing in New York City,” Congresswoman Velázquez said. “But this bill will help relieve the strain of unequal payments, helping NYCHA address its budget deficit without reducing the quality of affordable housing.”

Last month, Congresswoman Velázquez and other members of the New York City delegation signed a letter urging the adoption of NYS Senate Bill 4329/NYS Assembly Bill 7905, which restores the State’s dedication to public housing. The cost of the shelter allowance is shared between the Federal, State and City governments. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has agreed to fund the City’s portion of the costs, and under this legislation the state will now meet its share as well. The housing bill will adjust the rent charged for the 27,000 public assistance recipients at NYCHA, generating an additional $26.7 million in revenue in 2008, and 46.7 million in 2010.

“I especially want to thank Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, Governor Spitzer and all the elected officials and community based organizations for their leadership on this important issue,” said Congresswoman Velázquez. “We have achieved a victory for public housing in New York City.”