Tribeca tenants get rent reprieve from feds

By Albert Amateau

Convention arrests

In response to appeals by New York City and 400 local housing departments across the country, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last week decided to drop its proposal to reduce financing this year for Section 8 housing vouchers.

The decision means the federal government will pay more than $52 million this year for Section 8 and other housing program vouchers to the city Department of Housing Development and Preservation and to the New York City Housing Authority to subsidize low-income residents.

But the threat still remains of changes in federal housing voucher programs for 2005 and subsequent years that could reduce or eliminate subsidies available under various housing programs.

Tenant leaders at Independent Plaza North, the Tribeca housing complex where many residents receive Section 8 vouchers, were relieved at the decision but were apprehensive about future subsidy reductions.

“It lets us take a breath for a second,” said Diane Lapson, president of the I.P.N. Tenants Association. “But it’s right before the election so the vouchers are safe for the moment. Bush proposed the cuts himself and we can’t rest until we know that vouchers are permanent.”

The new owners of I.P.N. took the complex out of the Mitchell-Lama affordable housing program earlier this year after agreeing to keep existing tenants at current rent levels in a deal that required all eligible tenants to apply for a federal voucher program similar to Section 8.

H.P.D. Commissioner Shaun Donovan and NYCHA Chairperson Tino Hernandez hailed the HUD decision to restore funding

HUD proposed the reduction for Section 8 vouchers because the program cost had ballooned in the past two years, according to Adam Glantz, regional spokesperson for the agency. “We told local agencies that we would fund the program at 2003 rent levels,” he said. After about 400 local agencies, including the city’s H.P.D. and NYCHA, filed appeals against the reduction, HUD decided the vouchers would be funded at 97 percent of 2004 rent levels.

The appeals included direct negotiations between Mayor Bloomberg and Alphonse Jackson, U.S. Secretary of HUD.

“HUD’s review more accurately reflects the real increase in costs we are facing in the strong housing market in New York City,” H.P.D.’s Donovan, H.P.D. said in a statement. The restored funding, he added, would help keep needy families in their homes. “We’re grateful to HUD and to the mayor for his powerful advocacy in Washington,” Donovan added.

The restored funding means HUD will pay $37.2 million to NYCHA and $14.9 million to H.P.D. programs.

The reduction of Section 8 funding would have threatened Bloomberg’s plan to build or renovated 65,000 units of affordable housing and discouraged financing of partially subsidized private housing, Donovan added.


WWW Downtown Express