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NYC Picks Public Housing Destined for New Development

New York City Housing Authority Chair Shola Olatoye presented a preview of the NextGeneration Neighborhoods plan at a forum for housing advocates and resident leaders in January. (Photo by Alexis Stephens)

A New York City plan to allow private developers to build mixed-income housing on public housing sites took a big step forward this week. The New York City Housing Authority picked the first two complexes for which it will welcome bids for building 1,000 units: Wyckoff Gardens in Brooklyn and Holmes Towers in Manhattan.

The NYCHA move, part of its NextGen Neighborhoods initiative, is intended to bring cash into the struggling agency. The new units would also help with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing aims.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg once advocated for this infill approach to solving New York’s housing crisis. He was criticized for a suggested requirement of 80 percent of new units to be priced at market rate, and for not engaging public housing residents around the idea.

Politico reports that, now, NYCHA officials will conduct a months-long outreach program to get public housing residents’ input before requesting proposals from developers. The agency also hopes to work out a way for future construction to create jobs for local residents.

The loss of green space and parking at these housing sites is certain to be one major sticking point for people who live there, but NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye told Politico last month that she thinks the on-the-ground picture doesn’t support such resistance.

Some residents may have what she described as a misplaced nostalgia for green spaces the authority doesn’t have the money to maintain. Those areas, she said, are sometimes strewn with trash or gated off, preventing anyone from using them.