September 24, 2012 / 5:15 PM / in 7 years

NYC to open public housing projects to private developers

Sept 24 (Reuters) - New York City’s public housing authority o n M onday announced a plan to attract private developers to build affordable apartments in its housing projects, a departure from how many cities have dealt with flawed public housing.

The city’s housing authority is the nation’s biggest. The new plan contrasts with the strategy used by a number of other cities, such as Chicago, which have demolished their crumbling projects.

Nearly 420,000 New Yorkers live in public housing complexes, and some are quite dilapidated. There is a backlog of 300,000 repair orders.

“By forming partnerships with developers, we can generate hundreds of millions of dollars,” John Rhea, chairman of the New York City Housing Authority, said at an Association for a Better New York breakfast.

The money will be invested in capital projects for the housing authority, he said.

New initiatives Rhea announced include issuing $500 million of bonds under a federal housing program.

It would relieve the pressure on New York City to make up for lost federal funding. Recent cuts created a $13 billion capital shortfall through 2015 for the authority, Rhea said, adding: “The federal cavalry just isn’t coming.”

The housing projects will start paying property taxes in about 20 years. That is when abatements, used to spur affordable housing by cutting property taxes, usually end.

Early next year the housing authority will issue a request for proposals for Manhattan sites. This request, which later will be expanded, will produce 1,000 affordable apartments, Rhea said.

Developers should be chosen in mid-2013, with construction to start in 2014.

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