Mayor Eric Adams released his first budget yesterday – the 2023 Preliminary Budget – and we are extremely disappointed that he did not even mention housing in his remarks nor prioritize it in his budget plans. Instead, he chose to maintain the status quo and abandon his campaign promise to double city capital spending on affordable housing and NYCHA. In addition, Adams made expense budget cuts to HPD, DHS, and DSS that may impact services. In the process, he sent a loud and clear signal to his struggling constituents: despite what I said on the campaign trail, don’t expect bold action on housing.
As a candidate, Mayor Adams promised to spend $4 billion a year on housing because he knows that affordable housing significantly improves lives, creates jobs, and makes fiscal sense in the short- and long-term. Unfortunately, he has failed to take action as mayor on a policy he called ‘smart’ as a candidate simply because of self-imposed budgetary constraints – and it is vulnerable New Yorkers who will suffer the consequences.
The capital budget for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development is unchanged from the final budget released by former mayor Bill de Blasio – with projected annual capital spending never rising above $1.7 billion. United for Housing called for $2.5 billion in capital for HPD and Eric Adams agreed to this spending as a candidate. We recently released a policy brief showing why $4 billion is a necessary and sound investment right now. Adams’s budget projects capital commitments of $1.5 billion in the current fiscal year (FY 2022, which ends in June), $1.7 billion in FY 2023, $1.5 billion in FY 2024 and $1.3 billion in FY 2025. Adams budget also includes $1.6 billion in FY 2026 (city capital budgets show four year spending plans so Adams budget now reaches FY 2026). These figures are unchanged from the adopted capital budget released by de Blasio in October.
Mayor Adams’s capital budget for NYCHA is also unchanged from de Blasio’s final capital budget, never rising above $1 billion. United for Housing has called for capital spending of $1.5 billion per year for NYCHA, matched by the state. Adams NYCHA capital budget proposes $1 billion in the current fiscal year (FY 2022, which ends in June), $587 million in FY 2023, $597 million in FY 2024, $657 million in FY2025 and $424 million in FY 2026.
United for Housing also called for an additional $200 million for rental assistance to help people avoid homelessness and exit homelessness sooner. Unfortunately, there is no increase in Mayor Adams’s budget for rental assistance.
Last month Mayor Adams required most city agencies to cut their budgets by 3 percent this year and in future years. We called on Adams to exempt HPD, as he had exempted other critical agencies. Adams’s budget cuts HPD by $1 million next year, including cutting 28 positions – reducing their budgeted headcount by 1 percent. Other agencies that support housing and stability also saw cuts to headcount. The Department of Homeless Services cut 131 positions and the Department of Social Services cut 62 positions. (The budget also includes $6 million in cuts to DHS shelter repair efforts, which could lead to deferred maintenance and therefore could impact homeless shelter quality.)
Staffing shortages at HPD and other housing agencies are a major concern right now. We recently released a policy brief about how understaffing at HPD is impacting services including housing production, showing that the agency has lost significant staffing since the beginning of the pandemic so that their actual headcount is 120 positions less than it was in January 2020 and is 300 positions less than was in their budget.
We will be advocating the City Council and the administration to increase city capital housing funding to match Mayor Eric Adams campaign commitment, and monitoring the expense budget cuts to ensure HPD and other agencies have the resources they need. The city Council will be holding budget hearings next month and Mayor Adams will release his Executive Budget in April or May.