2007-07-27 / Letters

Sanders Urges Spitzer To Pass Housing Bill

This letter was sent to Governor Eliot Spitzer from Councilman James Sanders. Dear Governor Spitzer,

I am writing to urge you to sign S.4329 (Lanza)/ A.7905 (Lopez), a bill that is very important to us and to our constituents, written by council member Mendez and supported by Speaker Christine Quinn.

This vital bill creates parity between public housing authorities and private sector landlords, by requiring the state to pay public housing authorities the same shelter allowance that it pays private landlords when renting to tenants whose income consists of public assistance. For instance, NYCHA receives only $157 monthly for a two-bedroom apartment occupied by a public-assistance family. That is well below NYCHA's maintenance and operating costs and far below the $400-500 that a private landlord would receive in shelter payments for housing the same family.

Public housing is no less expensive to operate than private housing. The price of oil, gas, and other maintenance is the same. With much of public housing built in the 1950's or 1960's, the maintenance needs may well be higher than that of housing built more recently. Further, given that social services that public housing authorities are required by law to provide residents, public housing is more costly. Without an increase in the shelter allowance, public housing, the last source of truly affordable housing for low-income people, is increasingly at risk.

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) recently announced that it will be forced to lay off 500 employees, reduce services, and consider other drastic cost-saving measures, which will have a negative effect on the city's low-income population. This bill will help give NYCHA the revenue that it needs to avoid the aforementioned cuts.

This bill will also ensure that many hard-working union workers will avoid layoffs in the fall. For the reasons that are outlined above, we urge you to sign this bill into law.

COUNCILMAN JAMES SANDERS

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