Irreplaceable but Riddled with Problems, Can NYC's Public Housing be Saved?

Matt Chaban profiles John Rhea, NYC Housing Authority Chairman, and his efforts to improve the city's last bastion of affordable apartments.
September 6, 2012, 7am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Dependent on the federal government for its financing, NYCHA has been heading in a downward trajectory as the rest of the city has been booming. Its problems, spread among 178,000 apartments in 334 complexes scattered across all five boroughs, have been headline fodder for the city's tabloids of late.  

Tapped three years ago to fix issues with the agency and its housing stock by Mayor Bloomberg, Rhea, a former managing director at Barclays, speaks with Chaban about his frustrations in trying to solve problems that he admits are grave, including a maintenance backlog that tops $6 billion, and is expected to balloon to $14 billion in the next three years.

"Is there enough time, resources or authority to make a difference?" asks Chaban. "Despite widespread praise from housing advocates, many question whether or not Mr. Rhea can truly effect the change he speaks constantly of. After decades of disinvestment, no one person could turn around NYCHA in four years."

 

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Published on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 in The New York Observer
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