Yesterday Mayor Eric Adams released his preliminary FY 2024 budget. Before the budget was released, Adams talked about the need for fiscal restraint and his budget director called on agencies to permanently cut half of their positions that were vacant as of October 2022. In response to the news of this letter, NYHC led a sign-on letter with more than 110 partners calling on Mayor Adams to spare housing-related agencies from staffing cuts.
We appreciate that Mayor Adams heeded our call and largely protected HPD from staffing cuts, cutting just 37 positions. We are also pleased to see that HPD has started to gain headcount for the first time in years – increasing headcount by 1% since October. However, this pace is still far too slow and they have more than 400 vacancies. At this pace it will take them more than three years to get fully staffed up. The administration must speed up hiring to ensure HPD has staff to build and preserve affordable housing.
In total, HPD’s budget proposes $17.5 million in PEG reductions for next year, with most of the cuts coming from the $1.4 million from the staffing cuts, $9.6 million in non-staff savings at NYCHA, and $5 million in supportive housing rental assistance savings due to slower lease-up and projects completion (the latter two were originally in the November budget plan). Staffing cuts to DHS and HRA however are significant – with 107 positions (5%) cut from DHS and 773 (6%) cut from HRA. This is the wrong decision when there are a record number of people in the city’s shelters. Vacancies also remain a major problem – with 148 vacancies (8%) at DHS and 1,746 vacancies (14%) at HRA. Staffing shortages and cuts will mean continued delays getting benefits and finding housing for people at risk or experiencing homelessness, leading to more people entering shelter and longer stays in shelter.
We are also concerned about insufficient capital funding. In our sign-on letter, we also called on the Mayor to move more housing capital funding to the current and near-term fiscal years. Construction costs increased 25 percent over the past two years with interest rates the highest they’ve been in 20 years, greatly increasing the costs of affordable housing production.
Unfortunately, HPD’s capital budget remained unchanged in the preliminary budget. Last year HPD left $600 million of capital unspent due to staffing shortages and the administration moved that money into 2028 and beyond. But we need that money now. We recommend that Mayor Adams moves funding into HPD’s capital budget this year and next year in order to meet rising costs.
If Mayor Adams is serious about his ambitious housing goals, he must show they have real support by providing the necessary funding and staffing to carry it out.
Mayor Eric Adams’s preliminary budget also includes some housing-related “new needs funding” – which is the OMB term for funding for new or expanding program. The administration added $20.6 million for the Housing Blueprint and $2.9 million to facilitate the Get Stuff Built recommendations in fiscal year 2024.
The funding for the Housing Blueprint included:
- $5.2 million to expand the HomeFirst program, which provides down payment assistance to low-income households buying their first home,
- $4.1 million to implement HomeFix 2.0, which will help homeowners unable to get traditional home repair financing make urgent maintenance and repairs,
- $4 million to expand Partners in Preservation, which brings together tenant organizers, legal service providers, and government agencies to proactively address tenant harassment in rent-regulated buildings
- $1.7 million to create a permanent Homeowner Help Desk with the Center for NYC Neighborhoods,
- $1.2 million for a tenant anti-harassment unit, and
- $1.2 million to expand a pilot program for microgrants (low-barrier emergency grants) for people experiencing domestic violence to be operated by the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence.
You can see the full list of new funding in the table below. You can see the Mayor’s Housing Blueprint, released last spring, here.