2007-08-31 / Community

New Housing Bill Benefits NYCHA Residents

By Miriam Rosenberg

New legislation signed by Governor Eliot Spitzer this month will put as much as $47 million in additional funding annually, into public housing once it is fully phased in by 2010.

Spitzer signed legislation on August 15 that creates parity in how subsidies for shelter allowance are paid to public and private housing providers.

The shelter allowance, which helps residents who receive government assistance in paying their rent, is one of the factors used to determine how much rent a tenant pays. With the subsidy for NYCHArising, residents in those developments should see a decrease in their out-of-pocket rent payment.

Prior to this bill being signed, the subsidies for shelter allowance given to private landlords and housing authorities were distributed unequally, with private landlords receiving much more than public housing.

The governor's press release points out that, depending on a family's size and the size of the apartment, a private landlord could have received a subsidy as much as three times more than that paid to a housing authority. Rockaway is home to several NYCHA developments - Ocean Bay Apartments, Redfern Houses, Hammel Houses, Beach 41 Street Houses and Carlton Manor. According to figures from NYCHA's website, approximately 10,000 people live in the five developments.At the signing of the Shelter Allowance Bill, Spitzer commented on the new law.

"Ending this inequity represents one more step in our ongoing effort to confront New York's affordable housing crisis," said Spitzer. "After a long period of neglect, state government is finally focused on solving the housing crisis that has pushed too many working New Yorkers out of the middle class and prevented those struggling New Yorkers from climbing up into economic security. We must do everything we can to preserve our affordable housing so that New Yorkers don't have to spend their entire paycheck on rent or mortgage payments alone."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the bill a win for those living in NYCHA buildings. "Today's action by the Governor on the Shelter Allowance Bill is a major win for the more than 400,000 NYCHA residents," said Bloomberg. "This resolves the inequality that paid private landlords a higher shelter allowance than local housing authorities for individuals on public assistance - even though housing authorities offer additional benefits and services."

State Senator Malcolm Smith, who represents Rockaway, lauded the bill.

"Working with him on this issue, the Governor clearly showed his commitment to the working people of New York and the important role of the New York City Housing Authority in providing jobs for thousands of New Yorkers," said Smith.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver also spoke about the importance of the bill."The Assembly majority has fought long and hard for this legislation, which will make a crucial difference in the lives of some of New York's neediest families," said Silver.

The new shelter allowance will be phased in over the next three years. The housing authority will immediately see its subsidy rise to 50 percent of the maximum level provided to private landlords. It will increase to 75 percent in 2008-2009 and then to 100 percent in 2009-2010.

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