Far Rockaway public housing takes next step towards upgrade
by Patrick Kearns
Feb 23, 2016 | 4399 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) released their request for proposal for the upgrade of Far Rockaway's Ocean Bay apartments. The nearly 1,400 public housing units could receive an upgrade through the United States' Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD).

"As NYCHA continues to find creative plans to improve the lives of its residents, I look forward to working with them to ensure that Rockaway residents get the most out of programs such as RAD," said Councilman Donovan Richards.

According to Richards, NYCHA estimates that the 24 buildings and nearly 1,400 apartments in the complex need $174 million in major improvements and upgrades over the next two decades. Those improvements include kitchen and bathroom modernizations, roof replacement and safety upgrades.

RAD is part of NYCHA's 10-year strategic plan to preserve public housing and become a more efficient and effective landlord. The program was created in 2011 under the Obama administration as a way to assist public housing programs across the country.

"NYCHA must use every tool available to protect the affordability of New York City's housing stock and strengthen public housing for this and future generations," said NYCHA CEO Shola Olatoye. "By leveraging the RAD program, we will improve the quality of life for residents at Ocean Bay, ensuring their apartments and buildings receive much-needed repairs and upgrades while preserving affordability and tenant protection."

The process for upgrading the houses started in 2013 when NYCHA first met with residents and community members to discuss different options. Over the past year, they've hosted 12 monthly meetings with residents to inform them about the federal program, tenants rights and jobs.

The utilization of the RAD program will transition it from public housing to Section 8 housing, although NYCHA will continue to play a key role in decision making and oversight. Under the change, the property and unit count must continue to remain permanently affordable and residents will continue to have the same opportunities.

Residents will retain their right to organize and operate a tenant organization and moving forward, developers will be asked to proactively engage residents to train and hire them as the project moves forward.

Councilman Richie Torres, chairman of the City Council's Public Housing Committee, called RAD "as close to a win-win as one could imagine."

"It brings new capital dollars to public housing on the brink while at the same time preserving the same number of affordable units and the same depth and duration of affordability," he said. "If that does not constitute a win for the residents of Ocean Bay, I am not clear what would."

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