The New York Housing Conference offered testimony to the City Council Finance Committee regarding HPD’s budget needs for the fiscal year 2022 executive budget.
Last year, NYHC and partners opposed cuts to the HPD capital budget and Mayor de Blasio later reversed course and restored the cuts. While HPD’s capital funding is robust, we are worried that the agency will not have the staffing they need to fully utilize the city funding and incoming federal resources.
In our testimony, we called on the city to allow HPD to fill every vacancy and that all hiring should be expedited and approved as quickly as possible. Key units responsible for development and preservation financing, special needs housing, design and building review, and legal review within the department are currently understaffed with between 20 – 35 percent of their staff positions vacant. In addition, for every 2 vacancies at the agency, they will be allowed to fill only 1 spot, an improvement from the previous 3:1 ratio, but still insufficient.
If the agency is unable to fill vacant positions, including project managers that review the development and preservation deals, the agency will not be able to close deals sufficiently to meet production goals and may leave federal resources unspent.
Filling vacancies now is also necessary to maintain sufficient staffing levels across HPD programs to ensure continuity between the current administration and New York City’s next mayor. Without full staffing, the affordable housing pipeline can be disrupted leading to project delays and missed development opportunities.
The staff and leadership at HPD have been working hard to create and preserve record numbers of new housing units every year. Their ability to continue programs throughout the pandemic, even with reduced headcount and working remotely, has provided stability to the affordable housing pipeline and has demonstrated a commitment to New Yorkers in need of affordable housing during this time of crisis. With new federal resources coming in and significant city capital funding, the agency staff can only continue this record pace if the agency is sufficiently staffed to do the work.
Read our testimony here.