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HUD's New York Leader Suggests Privatizing Public Housing
Five months into her appointment, regional administrator Lynne Patton joined The Real Deal to defend the administration's "business perspective" and preview a regional policy agenda.
Here are some of the priorities Patton identifies for New York and New Jersey:
- Keeping Private Activity Bonds—loans that finance private development—in the tax reform package. "There's nothing more critical and important to me," Patton says.
- Strengthening job training and placement programs like Section 3 and NYCHA's Jobs-Plus in hopes of getting people out of public housing.
- Selling public housing stock to the private sector—potentially for conversion to market rate. "It's certainly no secret that NYCHA's public housing properties sit on some of the most valuable real estate in New York City. How [developers] choose to leverage that is really up to them," Patton suggests.
Highlighting her monthly meetings with development and real estate industry groups, Patton explains that the proposed policies are part of an overarching effort to empower the private sector. "This administration is extremely developer-friendly given the President's background," she says.
The flip side of that agenda is shrinking public programs, particularly long-term ones, in the interest of fostering "financial independence" among aid recipients. Patton also defends the administration's proposal to reduce HUD funding, framing it as "the efficient and effective allocation of taxpayer dollars." Experts have warned that now is the worst time to cut housing assistance.
A former executive at the Eric Trump Foundation with no experience in public housing, Patton was a controversial choice to lead HUD's New York and New Jersey region. Critics also noted that her appointment coincided with the abrupt dismissal of a Fair Housing case in Westchester County, where she is a resident.