Chair’s Message to Staff on NYCHA’s Looming Budget Crisis

Chair Shola Olatoye and Chief Financial Officer Karen Caldwell
Chair Shola Olatoye and Chief Financial Officer Karen Caldwell discuss
the impact of devastating federal funding cuts at a City Council hearing
on March 13.

In a message to staff on April 4, Chair Shola Olatoye described the severe fiscal challenge NYCHA faces from proposed federal budget cuts and our determination to launch a national campaign to win support for public housing.

Dear Colleagues,

March 2017 will likely go down as one of the most significant months in NYCHA history. Dr. Ben Carson was confirmed as the new Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); the Trump administration announced $6.2 billion in proposed cuts to HUD’s 2018 budget; and NYCHA joined with the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) to launch a national campaign to save public housing.

As the Chair and CEO, I remain committed to fighting for NYCHA so we can provide safe, decent housing for the New Yorkers who are counting on us. We’re gearing up for the battle ahead to protect and fight for every dollar for NYCHA. In every meeting, at every speech and presentation, in our media messaging and our communications with elected officials, advocates, and residents, we are making NYCHA’s position clear: We will not give up on public housing.

The President’s Proposed Budget

President Trump released a budget proposal containing $6.2 billion in cuts to HUD; Secretary Carson has said that he supports this proposed budget.

  • Impact on public housing capital work: The proposed 68 percent cut to our capital budget would mean that crucial projects simply could not be done, including boiler improvements, elevator upgrades, building exterior work and replacement of kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Impact on public housing operations: The proposed cuts to our operating budget would force NYCHA to reduce service levels and halt repairs, wiping away progress we’ve made in the two years since the launch of NextGeneration NYCHA, the Authority’s 10-year strategic plan.
  • Overall impact of budget cuts to public housing: We would not be able to complete badly needed rehabilitation work, wait times for apartment maintenance work could double, and our operating reserves would be reduced to a level that would threaten our ability to operate the agency.

NYCHA’s Response

The President’s budget and its potential impact were the focus of our annual budget testimony to the New York City Council on March 13. Chief Financial Officer Karen Caldwell (pictured below) and Executive Vice President for Real Estate Nicole Ferreira joined me to testify.

  • I travelled to Washington and Albany to meet with elected officials about the proposed budget cuts.
  • On both Inside City Hall and ABC’s Up Close with Bill Ritter, I stressed the impact the budget would have not just on NYCHA but on the rest of the City.
  • Kathy Wylde, President of the Partnership for New York City, published an op-ed in the Daily News about the budget cuts and their impact on New York City.
  • News media covering this topic include: Wall Street Journal, WNYC, New York Daily News, AMNY, New York Post, The Real Deal, El Diario, Gothamist, City Limits, New York Magazine and Politico.
  • I attended the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities’ annual meeting in Washington, where I discussed the budget cuts, what makes great public housing, and how public housing authorities can work together with their elected officials, advocates and residents to fight disinvestment.
  • Following Secretary Ben Carson’s keynote address to 900 attendees at the NAHRO’s annual meeting in Washington, I spoke about the future of public housing and announced a new collaboration between NYCHA and NAHRO to build a national network of PHAs that will lead the conversation on health and housing.
  • By demonstrating that policy and funding decisions in public housing have health implications on children, seniors, and others living in our housing, we hope to get the funding we need at the local, State and federal levels to create safe, healthy public housing communities. Mayor de Blasio delivered the following video message to the conference.

Clearly, budget issues will be a focus of nearly all of our efforts for months to come. I will continue to keep you posted on our progress as we move forward in our efforts to secure the funding we need so our residents have the homes they deserve.

In partnership,

Chair & CEO
Shola Olatoye

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