Is the future of NYC's public housing actually private?

With winter at our doorstep, NYCHA is facing the challenge of doing better for its residents than last year. At the same time, the agency is making moves to turn over some developments to the private sector. But not everyone thinks that is a good idea.

A City Council hearing brought residents and top NYCHA officials to the table to answer questions about NextGen NYCHA—the name of the embattled agency's plan to unload its properties to private developers.

Interim NYCHA Chair and CEO Stan Brezenoff pointed to the successful conversion of the former Edgemere Houses in Far Rockaway to the newly renovated and renamed Ocean Bay Apartments. NYCHA retains ownership of the land, gave the developer a 99-year lease, and the developer upgrades and manages the apartments.

Breznoff testified that more developments are being converted under the federal HUD program called RAD, or rental assistance development. He also said NYCHA had a capital shortfall of $32 billion, more than most countries.

Douglass Houses Resident Association President Carmen Quinones said the main point is being missed. She said that public housing is for low-income residents but developers and NYCHA speak of "affordable housing." So she is worried what will happen to her and her fellow tenants.

Council Member Donovan Richards said going private is not the ideal solution but is a way to improve living conditions. Quinones said she disagrees and said that residents are still not being included in the decision-making process.