Thank you for the opportunity to comment on NYCHA's annual plan for fiscal year 2007 and amendment to the fiscal year 2006 plan. Unfortunately, I am unable to attend tonight's public hearing due to the Congressional schedule and votes taking place in Washington. However, I am proud to stand and join residents, advocates, and other elected officials this evening to discuss NYCHA's proposed initiatives.
As a senior Member of the Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee with more than twenty-five NYCHA developments in my district, I remain concerned about the potential impact this plan has on residents.
As we know, NYCHA has a $168 million shortfall, due in large part to a disinvestment in public housing by all levels of government. This budget gap, however, did not appear overnight and NYCHA should not expect to close it overnight. Instead, NYCHA should scale back proposals, lengthen phase in periods, and most importantly, look to funding sources other than residents to balance their budgets.
Rent increases, although only affecting 27 percent of residents, will have a real impact on these families and individuals. Raising rents over a period of just two years will be a heavy burden on many. Residents understand that rents have not been raised in a number of years, however, the suddenness of these increases is troubling. NYCHA must find alternatives. They should not make up for the shortfall on residents' dime.
NYCHA proposes to use Section 8 vouchers to fund the operation of City and State public housing. I find such an approach deeply troubling, and oppose it. Beginning down this road is dangerous, and fails to hold the City and State accountable. The State needs to follow through on the $20 million funding commitment announced at the Public Housing hearing on May 25th. The City's $100 million in transitional funding is a step in the right direction, however, the City should provide a steady stream of funding by restoring the $35 million it contributed annually to public housing under Mayor Dinkins.
On the federal level, the New York City delegation will continue to fight, as we have every year, for increased federal funding. NYCHA, residents, and the federal government, however, cannot balance the budget alone. The State and City need to step up and do their part as well. Taking these actions, combined with others will, over the long term, alleviate some of NYCHA's budgetary pressures. In turn, we will help protect safe and affordable housing in communities throughout New York City.
Over the past month, we have been working to find alternative solutions to the proposals in NYCHA's draft plan. With this goal and with tenant concerns in mind, we have sat down with NYCHA and HUD to discuss other options. These include: legislative remedies, the restructuring of NYCHA payment plans, and reaching out to other sources for supplemental funds.
Through numerous tenant and advocate meetings and town halls, it has become obvious that residents have concerns, but they also have ideas and solutions. I strongly encourage NYCHA to listen to these and make revisions based on them. This will help ensure that the final annual plan and amendment safeguards affordable housing, without negatively impacting tenants. The final plan and amendment must guarantee that the City's crucial affordable housing stock is not jeopardized -- only in this way will NYCHA continue in its role as a quality housing authority.