De Blasio NYCHA Proposal: More Space for People, Less Subsidized Parking

Mayor de Blasio’s plan to stabilize the finances of the New York City Housing Authority includes higher, but still subsidized, parking fees and a promise to develop a mix of market-rate and affordable housing on under-utilized property, including parking lots.

A conceptual plan for East River Houses would replace parking with new housing and retail. Image: NYCHA [PDF]
A concept for East River Houses would replace parking with new housing and retail. Image: NYCHA [PDF]

The mayor announced that the city will be developing new housing on NYCHA property. De Blasio took pains to distinguish the levels of subsidized housing in his proposal from an un-implemented Bloomberg administration proposal to develop housing on NYCHA property in Manhattan.

The new development plan would build 10,000 units in buildings where all residences would have below-market rents, plus about 7,000 residences in buildings that would be a 50-50 mix of market-rate and below-market units.

It’s an open question, however, exactly which NYCHA properties will be the site of new development. De Blasio said the city will begin announcing development sites in September. The New York Times reported that the first sites would be at Van Dyke and Ingersoll houses in Brooklyn and Mill Brook Houses in the Bronx.

The authority says the developments would “transform underutilized NYCHA-owned property,” including parking lots and other street-facing parcels like trash or storage areas, over the next 10 years. Parking lots are particularly promising, since they cover more than 467 acres of NYCHA property, according to a parking reform study prepared for the Institute for Public Architecture last year.

The Bloomberg administration’s development plan would have replaced any parking removed to make way for new housing. The de Blasio administration has not yet replied to a question asking if that will be the case with its plan.

Mayor de Blasio unveils his NYCHA plan in East Harlem this afternoon. Image: Mayor's Office/YouTube
Mayor Bill de Blasio unveils his NYCHA plan in East Harlem yesterday afternoon. Image: NYC Mayor’s Office/YouTube

It’s clear, however, that NYCHA won’t be subsidizing parking to the extent it does now, with permit prices set to rise.

“Relatively few NYCHA residents have vehicles to begin with,” de Blasio said at a press conference yesterday afternoon in East Harlem. Just 2.5 percent of NYCHA’s more than 400,000 residents have a parking permit. “It’s a very small number, out of 400,000-plus people. But this is something, again, that we think will be necessary, to shore up the fundamental financial reality of the housing authority so we can benefit the residents.”

Today, NYCHA residents can pay as little as $60 a year for a permit granting them access to an outdoor parking space. Residents pay more for indoor or reserved spaces, with discounts for seniors and the disabled. (In 2011, the authority began converting all its parking to reserved spaces, which command higher fees.) The average parking fee is $6.80 a month for unreserved spaces and $26.33 for reserved parking, NYCHA says. Even still, its 19,000 parking spots are at only 59 percent capacity [PDF].

De Blasio made the case that it’s time for an increase, but not to market rates. The mayor said parking fees “in most parts of the city” will go up to $86 per month under his plan, which caps resident parking rates in the highest-demand locations at no more than $150 a month in areas where market rates exceed $500 per month.

Today, non-NYCHA residents can buy permits if there are extras available, at double the price paid by public housing tenants. Under de Blasio’s plan, they would pay market rates.

In some neighborhoods, market prices are 12 times the amount NYCHA charges, the authority said. “[It] is obviously well below anything that would be available on the open market,” de Blasio said of the proposed resident rates, “…[and] obviously much more affordable than other options typically are.”

The additional parking charges, which will be rolled out at NYCHA properties beginning next year through 2018, are expected to bring in up to $5 million on top of the $2.4 million the authority already collects from parking. NYCHA also seeks to “efficiently lease” more than two million square feet of existing non-residential ground floor space to reduce commercial vacancies, bringing in another $1 million each year.