On March 27, Chair & CEO Shola Olatoye addressed more than 900 affordable housing leaders at the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment (NAHRO) annual meeting in Washington. She announced that NYCHA and NAHRO have banded together to build a national movement of PHAs and their advocates and partners. The coalition will lobby at the local, state and national levels for increased investment in public housing as a critical public health measure. Here is an excerpt of her address.
I’ll be honest, when the President proposes a $6.2 billion cut to HUD’s budget and a reported two-thirds slash to the capital fund—you have to wonder if public housing will even have a tomorrow, let alone a “better” one. Luckily, where I’m from, we don’t take these kinds of threats lying down.
Public housing authorities and housing administrators have embraced private investment not as a last resort but as a bridge to a 21st century business model. As public housing is faced with a fundamental shift in funding, programs like RAD (the Rental Assistance Demonstration) have been a lifeline for many PHAs, including New York City, as a long-term, public-private solution to address unmet capital needs and to preserve affordable units.
Even with the success of RAD and other financial tools, we’re going to need more from Washington. The quality and condition of our housing stock has dramatically declined, impacting the health and well-being of public housing residents across the country, from rural and Indian housing in Wisconsin to WWII-era housing in North Carolina. We know poor housing conditions contribute to poor health outcomes, especially among vulnerable populations, such as children, seniors, and the disabled.
The president proposes a $6.2 billion cut to HUD. Luckily, where I’m from we don’t take these kind of threats lying down. – Chair Shola Olatoye
This is simply unacceptable. Housing, like medicine, should “do no harm.”
That’s why I’m proud to announce a new collaboration between the New York City Housing Authority and NAHRO. In bringing together a diverse coalition across sectors, such as labor, construction, business, and health, and with PHAs from across the country, we hope to send a powerful message to Capitol Hill and the administration: Public housing infrastructure is crucial to the health of 2.6 million Americans. Our efforts will be focused on (1) invest- ing in capital and health in- vestments while pushing hard against any and all attempts to gut public housing with capital and operations cuts; and (2) collaborating with new and unlikely voices to target and move legislation and opportunities for targeted in- vestments, such as a potential infrastructure bill.
Perhaps in our favor is a HUD Secretary with a career in medicine. There is no one better positioned than Secretary Carson to not only under- stand the health impacts of deteriorating housing but to actually do something about it. Margaret Mead said never doubt the ability of a small, thoughtful group to bring about change. Well, we represent a combined 2.6 million Americans, so I expect big things!