Tenants’ Rights at Risk in NYCHA Conversions, Warns Human Rights Group

(THE CITY) GREG B. SMITH, February 4, 2022

The city Housing Authority’s years-long effort to place public housing into the hands of private managers shows signs of compromising tenants’ rights, a human rights group charged Thursday. 

Citing increased eviction rates and a lack of oversight once buildings are turned over, Human Rights Watch released the results of a year-long examination of NYCHA’s plan to place one-third of its 175,000 apartments into the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, an Obama-era effort aimed at improving public housing by relying on private sector assistance. 

To date, NYCHA has converted 11,000 apartments into its version of RAD, called Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT), with plans to turn over a total of 62,000 units by the time the campaign is complete. 

NYCHA retains ownership of the properties but leases the buildings to developers who in turn must fund extensive renovations and maintain developments going forward. The managers then can pocket tenants’ rent and government subsidy funds. 

Examining NYCHA’s data for six PACT developments, Human Rights Watch found the eviction rates at four of the properties stayed about the same once they went into the program. But two developments — Ocean Bay Bayside in Far Rockaway, Queens, and Betances in the South Bronx — showed preliminary evidence of eviction numbers that jumped once they went into RAD.

Ocean Bay averaged 10.9 annual evictions in the four and a half years under NYCHA pre-conversion and 16 annual evictions in the three years since, from its 2017 conversion through the statewide eviction moratorium that went into effect in March 2020. 

Betances reported 13 evictions in the first 16 months after its conversion in November 2018, compared to 10 evictions in the 2.5 years prior under NYCHA management. That’s a jump in monthly eviction rate from .33 to .72.

Source: The City