Internal NYCHA Audit Exposes Vacant Apartment Problems
Internal auditors of the New York City Housing Authority have revealed that 319 of NYCHA’s vacant apartments have been vacant for an average of seven years, with some sitting empty for as long as two decades, because the agency can’t afford to make repairs. With nearly 179,000 public housing apartments, NYCHA plays a key role in preserving the affordable housing the city already has. Although NYCHA has reduced the number of unoccupied units in recent years, it still allows many units to stay empty for long periods, auditors found.
Hurricane Sandy compounded the problem, and a year later 110 of the apartments that had to be vacated are still waiting to be fixed up. With the units off the rent rolls, the city has lost an estimated $1.4 million a year in rent, the auditors said. The agency, which relies on federal housing funds, estimates it has a capital budget shortfall of $6 billion. Many vacant apartments are in limbo, and more are at risk, the officials said, because of the steady decline in federal subsidies.
The capital crunch also poses a test for Mayor-elect de Blasio, who has promised to increase the city’s affordable housing stock. Public housing advocates say the question is whether the city will step in with its own money to help preserve public housing buildings, some of them dating to the 1930s and 1940s, as federal funds continue to dry up.