Testimony Before the New York City Council Housing and Buildings Committee Regarding Priorities for the New York City Fiscal Year 2022-2023 Budget


Thank you to Committee Chair Pierina Sanchez and members of the Housing and Buildings Committee for the opportunity to testify on the housing-related proposals in the Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2022-2023 Budget. 


About the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) 

ANHD is one of the City’s lead policy, advocacy, technical assistance, and capacity-building organizations. We maintain a membership of 80+ neighborhood-based and city-wide nonprofit organizations that have affordable housing and/or equitable economic development as a central component of their mission. We are an essential citywide voice, bridging the power and impact of our member groups to build community power and ensure the right to affordable housing and thriving, equitable neighborhoods for all New Yorkers. We value justice, equity and opportunity, and we believe in the importance of movement building that centers marginalized communities in our work. We believe housing justice is economic justice is racial justice. 

ANHD’s work directly supports the needs of our members who develop, manage, and organize to preserve affordable housing, and who fight to bring equity into low-wealth communities in New York City—especially communities of color. Our groups rely on us for technical assistance and capacity-building resources that allow them to maximize their resources, skills and impact. The support services, research, analysis, public education and coalition building we do helps to identify patterns of local neighborhood experiences and uplift citywide priorities and needs. Our work translates into the capacity to win new programs, policies and systems that ensure the creation and preservation of deeply and permanently affordable housing, and economic justice. 


Long-Term Efficiency Requires Investing in Housing 

As our City continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is absolutely essential that we deepen our commitment to investing in affordable and supportive housing. The past few years have made abundantly clear the critical role that safe, stable housing plays in our ability to withstand crises, whether related to public health or to climate change. While Wall Street profits, real estate sales and rents are going up, tens of thousands of New Yorkers are sleeping on the streets or in shelters, and hundreds of thousands more are behind in rent and face eviction. When it comes to housing, now is not the time for austerity. 

Regrettably, the Mayor’s preliminary budget does not prioritize housing, a decision that is shortsighted and irresponsible. The claim of “efficiency” in the short term will undeniably come at even greater costs in the long term, in both human and monetary terms. Countless research studies have shown that it is much more costly to rely on police and emergency rooms to address homelessness rather than directly providing housing to those who need it. Now more than ever, we need to invest in data-driven, comprehensive, and genuinely efficient solutions such as supportive housing that will create jobs, improve health and economic outcomes, and decrease overall costs to our city. 

ANHD and our members demand that the City Council prioritize housing in the FY 23 budget: invest in our City’s network of community providers, housing agencies, capital programs to provide deeply and permanently affordable and supportive housing, nonprofit developers that provide housing to those who need it most, NYCHA, and protection for tenants facing eviction.


Fund the Community Housing Preservation Strategies Initiative

COVID has made clear that the primary actors for getting service and aid and for stabilizing our neighborhoods are our local community partners. Throughout COVID, community development corporations (CDCs) and community based organizations (CBOs) have amplified their roles as community caretakers, standing on the front lines to ensure tenants and small homeowners can stay in their homes amidst a pandemic. The pandemic has also highlighted that this critical work and assistance is deeply underfunded and not supported at the level necessary given the moment.

For the past fifteen-plus years, the New York City Council has supported the Community Housing Preservation Strategies Initiative (CHPSI) to ensure organizations across community districts can work on a neighborhood level to combat the loss of affordable housing in their community. As we head into a long recovery that has and will continue to be harder for communities of color, low- and moderate-income communities, and immigrant communities, this moment demands increased support and services to do what is necessary. 

ANHD calls on the New York City Council to renew the Community Housing Preservation Strategies Initiative at $4.36 million dollars in the FY 23 budget. Funding at this increased level will support: (1) advancing the program from 41 Council districts to all 51 Council Districts for the coming year, to ensure every Council district has targeted support services to the threats impacting their affordable housing stability; and (2) necessary front-line staff increases, for those fighting unfair evictions and supporting marginalized tenants with resources and direct assistance. 

As 40+ CBOs have provided the past 15+ years, this support will also ensure tenant support and organizing, code enforcement, housing court assistance, apartment repossession, and other housing-related public education needed unique to each neighborhood is available. Specifically, funding CHPSI at $4.36 million dollars in the FY 23 budget will ensure: 

  • 25,000+ tenants and homeowners are engaged and informed of available support services in their community.

  • 6,600+ tenants and homeowners are referred to and connected with additional support services.

  • 350+ tenant associations are supported. 

  • Staff at CBOs have direct access to ANHD staff and targeted training options that help them improve their tenant protection skills, and their strategic housing research capacity. 

  • The creation of a Housing Risk Chart that helps local stakeholders and community groups identify the key threat to affordability in their neighborhood. 

  • The creation of an AMI Cheat sheet to provide information on how Area Median Income relates to New York City housing need.

  • Technical assistance on land use and housing to Council Members and staff involved in this initiative and who are interested in preserving affordable housing. 

  • ANHD will work individually with the 40+ funded groups to help them use data and information to strengthen their work, develop and fulfill work plans, manage goals, and goals in assessing and serving local community needs. 

  • ANHD will maintain the Displacement Alert Project, supporting advocates in better targeting their outreach, engagement, and support, with the with the ability to

    • Track evictions and other displacement risk as it occurs in their council district, community district, and across the city at large.

    • View new eviction cases filed in their districts at an individual building level throughout New York City

    • Bookmark frequently visited buildings, save searches, and receive notifications to see changes in units and tenants, and other relevant data points.


Exempt HPD, DHS and DSS from the Program to Eliminate the Gap

Despite near unanimous opposition from housing advocates across the City, the Mayor’s budget imposes a 3% cut to the operating budgets of the agencies overseeing housing and homelessness, including the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), and the Department of Social Services (DSS). At a time when these agencies, particularly HPD, are already experiencing significant bottlenecks due to pandemic-related staffing shortages, budget cuts are absolutely unacceptable. ANHD members and the communities they serve are feeling the impact of these staffing shortages acutely – projects that are nearly shovel-ready cannot close due to a lack of attorneys, homeless units ready to be leased up are sitting vacant because of delays in the referral system, preservation projects ready to move through the pipeline are stuck due to a lack of project managers, and housing code violations cannot be remedied due to a lack of staff for code enforcement. Our critically needed housing development pipeline is in jeopardy if we do not invest in the staffing and resources at our City agencies. ANHD adamantly rejects cuts to the operating budgets of HPD, DHS, and DSS.

“Efficiency” means getting as many people into safe, affordable housing as possible and as quickly as possible, and budget cuts will not get us there. Reducing headcount alone will not achieve efficiency; instead, it will slow down the vital pipeline of housing and services that are so desperately needed at this time. We need to explore other ways to achieve true efficiency, such as creating an Ombudsperson at City Hall to promote interagency coordination and to fast-track approvals for affordable and supportive housing.


Increase HPD’s Capital Budget

Despite promises made on the campaign trail to double the City’s capital investment in housing, Mayor Adams' budget keeps capital commitments unchanged from the previous year’s budget, at $1.7 billion in FY 2023, $1.5 billion in FY 2024, and $1.3 billion in FY 2025. In addition to staffing, we also need increased capital resources to fund the much needed new construction and preservation of affordable and supportive housing. Fewer capital dollars not only means fewer units built and preserved, but also reduced ability to create the deeply affordable units that would actually serve the households most in need. 

ANHD members who are developers of affordable housing are struggling to advance their pipelines amidst rapidly rising construction costs and insurance costs, as well as increased costs related to meeting new climate goals and coping with climate change-related damage. ANHD joins the United for Housing coalition’s demand to increase HPD’s capital budget to $2.5 billion to grow the production of affordable and supportive housing and deepen levels of affordability while keeping apace with rising costs. 


Stabilize Nonprofit-Owned, 100% Affordable Housing

While New York State’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) was helpful in protecting thousands of renters from eviction and providing much needed rental income to small and nonprofit landlords, much more is needed to stabilize our nonprofit owned affordable housing. As ANHD found in our recent report on the pandemic rent crisis, ANHD’s nonprofit housing developer members have been approved for less than half of their ERAP applications and continue to face millions of dollars in revenue gaps due to the ongoing loss of both commercial and residential income. While large corporate landlords have largely rebounded from pandemic losses, our nonprofit landlords who serve the most vulnerable New Yorkers have not had this luxury. Instead of waiting on funding from the federal government that may never come through, we are calling on both the City and the State to act now to preserve our precious non-profit owned affordable housing stock. 

In addition to increasing HPD’s capital budget for new housing development, the City should also explore creating a fund specifically dedicated to stabilizing and preserving existing non-profit owned, 100% affordable housing. 

With ongoing gaps in rental income related to the lasting impacts of the pandemic, nonprofit owners have limited ability to maintain their buildings, which can pose potential risks to health and safety. Unless we act now, the ongoing pandemic rent crisis will put the maintenance and preservation of our affordable housing stock in jeopardy. 


Invest in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)

Public housing remains New York City’s most important source of deeply and permanently affordable housing. Ongoing, chronically poor housing conditions impact residents’ employment, children’s schooling, and increase healthcare needs. NYCHA residents, like all New Yorkers, are entitled to safe and healthy homes. New York City must prioritize NYCHA residents as core members of our communities and NYCHA housing as a key piece of the City’s affordable housing plan. To that end, we ask that the city dedicate $2.5 billion this year towards our public housing stock’s capital needs. 

Additionally, residents have a right to management that is punctual, respectful, and responsive. Increasing resident input and control would increase accountability for quality and timely completion of repairs and prioritization of need. We ask the City to commit to ensuring that NYCHA residents have not only input but shared decision-making power in determining long-term solutions to preserve our public housing. This is the way to ensure that NYCHA capital dollars are most efficiently spent.


Implement Local Law 53

There is broad consensus, including from the Office of Civil Justice (OCJ), about the effectiveness of Right to Counsel (RTC) in keeping New Yorkers housed: OCJ found that 84% of represented tenants were able to remain in their homes. It is clear, and New York City has acknowledged by expanding coverage citywide ahead of schedule during the pandemic, that RTC and eviction prevention measures are more important than ever. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that New York City follow through with its previous commitments to fully support the program and ensure its success. 

ANHD emphatically supports the Right to Counsel Coalition’s demand for New York City to immediately and fully implement Local Law 53. Local Law 53 funds the necessary education and outreach work to ensure that tenants at risk of eviction and homelessness are able to access representation to which they are entitled. Its implementation was required by November 2021, but no RFP has been issued. This puts New York City out of compliance with its own law, during the absolute wrong time to do it – State Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds have run out and eviction protections expired. New Yorkers urgently need full and immediate funding of education, outreach, and organizing to ensure the success of Right to Counsel. 


Thank you again for the opportunity to testify. If you have any questions or for more information, please contact Lucy Block at lucy.b@anhd.org.

Read moreless

Share this page: