NYHC testified today on the FY 2024 preliminary city housing budget, touching four areas of concern. You can read our full testimony here.

We remain concerned about understaffing at HPD and housing-related agencies. HPD has 170 fewer positions than January 2020 before the pandemic. We are seeing some progress – 1% increase in headcount from October to January. We hope to see progress continue and accelerate.

We were pleased to see two new proposals to address staffing: $15,000 salary increase for hard-to-hire positions and faster OMB response. But more is probably needed. We put out a report last year with detailed recommendations.

Make no mistake, understaffing is affecting services. According to new data, HPD produced less than 14,000 units of affordable housing in calendar year 2022, the first full year of the Adams’s administration, 51% less than the recent average including just 5,800 units preserving existing housing, 69 percent less than the recent average. 

We are also concerned about HPD’s capital budget, which we believe is insufficient to meet rising interest rates and construction costs. The city should move some of last year’s unspent $600 million and the $5 billion commitment from Mayor Adams, into current years.

We are also alarmed about a growing rental arrears crisis. Our recent report looked at 50,000 units of private affordable housing (government subsidized) and found 31 percent of tenants owe more than two months of rent, owing on average $9,565.10 percent of households owe more than $10,000, owing on average $22,000.  This crisis threatens massive evictions and the financial stability of affordable and public housing

We are supporting NYSAFAH’s $2 billion tenant fund at the state level and will be working with HPD and HCR to develop more policy solutions.

Finally, we are concerned about the prospect of deteriorating housing conditions and the need for greater code enforcement as signs of financially distressed and overleveraged housing are emerging. We recommend that HPD monitor the housing stock and protect existing housing through code enforcement.