Contact: Jeffrey N. Maclin
(212) 614-5538 (office)
(718) 309-2346 (cell)
Today, Mayor Bloomberg delivered his 12th and final State of the City address. Before a friendly audience, the mayor recited some of the city’s achievements: reduced crime and incarceration rates, record tourism, and ongoing job growth.
On the important issue of public housing, the mayor correctly pointed out that inadequate funding of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has hurt the Authority’s ability to meet all of its operating and capital needs. The situation is expected to get even worse when Washington tackles deficit reduction.
For his part, the mayor promised not to “walk away” from the city’s public housing. But he did not offer any funding relief to NYCHA, or even to terminate the $100 million in annual payments the Authority makes to the city largely for policing ($75 million), which he could do with the stroke of a pen. Instead, he said NYCHA would “develop new housing at under-developed” sites around the city, a plan that is already stirring controversy in NYCHA communities.
Before the mayor’s 320 days in office expire, we urge him to consider taking some definitive steps to improve the job prospects of public housing residents. Among other efforts, the city should ensure that resulting construction and capital improvements maximize job and training opportunities for low-income public housing residents.
We know the mayor cares deeply about the city. To his credit, he has focused much-needed attention on public health issues. And through his `Young Men’s Initiative’ city agencies are coordinating efforts to help black and Latino young men in the areas of education, employment, health and the criminal justice system. However, in helping the most vulnerable New Yorkers find a way out of poverty, there remains much work ahead.