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Some Public Housing Tenants Say Possible Rent Hike Is 'Class Warfare'

Monday, June 25, 2012

public housing, projects, NYCHA Harlem River Houses public housing (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

The New York City Housing Authority is moving forward with plans to raise rents. NYCHA said the change is meant to generate revenue, create rent equity and encourage those who are financially stable to move out and purchase apartments in the private market.

“If they have financial stability then yes it is encouraging them to be in the housing market that was meant for them,” NYCHA spokeswoman Sheila Stainback said.

Those affected pay less than the standard 30 percent of their income for rent mainly because of a rent cap that has existed since the late 1990’s. Capping rent was seen as a way to encourage people to work since rents would stop rising at a certain point — even when income increased.

The housing authority, however, is facing a $50 million budget deficit and David Jones of the Community Service Society said it no longer makes sense to keep cap levels low. 

“So unlike my normal sort of knee jerk position, this is a rent increase that we think is justifiable,” said Jones, whose group advocates on behalf of low income New Yorkers. “We see most families in New York paying 50 percent plus of their income, coming up to 30 percent is a reasonable amount.”

NYCHA plans to phase in the increases over five years starting in 2013. In the first year, the average increases will range from $23 on the low end to $210 on the high end. How high rents go will depend on a family’s size and income level. It believes it can raise an extra $100 million through the rent increase over a five year period starting in 2013.

The housing authority is not ending rent caps but instead making them higher. For instance, the maximum rent on a one-bedroom apartment will go from $802 to $1,024. Even with these changes about 19,000 households out of the 47,000 affected will continue to pay under 30 percent of their income on rent.

The community group Good Ole Lower East Side (GOLES) recently held a tenant meeting to inform residents about rent increases and other changes. Those who attended had mixed reactions. 

“It's class warfare,” said one high-earning tenant who refused to give her name but who felt the policy failed to take into account other expenses. “I’m putting my kids through college. I have medical expenses. I don’t splurge.”

But Carmen Negron of Baruch Houses said she has been paying 30 percent of her income on rent each month and everyone else should be required to do the same.

“If you don’t agree with this then maybe you’re blessed and its better off if you get your own home or live some place else so somebody else can come and occupy that apartment,” Negron countered.

Denise Perez was worried that the increases would drive out the higher paying tenants. 

“We want mixed income,” Perez said. “If they’re going to pay double the rent we’re paying they should be able to live in something …that’s worthy of their money.”

Given what rents are in the private market, Jones of the Community Service Society said he doubted the policy would result in many families leaving NYCHA. Plus, he said getting a public housing apartment doesn’t come easily.

“People struggled mightily some of them waiting nine, ten years on the waiting list to get in,” Jones said.

NYCHA plans to begin rent increases in January as part of its annual plan which will be discussed at a public hearing, July 25.


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Comments [29]

laura from NY

Unfortunately, there is a tremendous amount of fraud in NYCHA that tenants commit. Illegal subletting is one of the more prevalent issues, whereas people lying about their income is also a huge problem. A lot of people who live in NYCHA take complete advantage of subsidized housing and choose to play the system, which benefits themselves while defrauding NYCHA of much need revenue and tax payers of their contributions. I hope the inspector general or the mayor starts looking into NYCHA fraud cases more seriously because it's very common to see tenants own homes in other states, yet they'll still (illegally) hold onto their $100 a month apartments (and there are very many folks living in 2, 3, or 4-bedroom apartments paying less than $100 a month). It's a complete shame. There are some individuals living in NYCHA currently that pay $16 a month rent, this is not a joke. This is a total mockery to many working families in NYC who pay outrageous amounts in rent each month. I think there should definitely be a minimum rent charged for a certain sized apartment.

Nov. 16 2014 01:27 AM
A Jamal from Taft Houses

Just got my new lease. My rent has now went from 1179.00 to 1407.00. I worked two jobs last year. The IRS taxes me twice. Once from my check and again at the end of the year. Mainly because of the second job and I am single. Now NYCHA comes and takes the rest. This is sick. You are being punished for working hard. It makes no sense. My rent has been going up by 100.00 every year since 2000. Than jumped by 200.00. Now by 300.00. What do you want me to do start selling drugs? Again this is sick.

Mar. 07 2014 11:46 PM
Sandra Adames from Walt Whitman Houses

We, NYCHA's tenants making 50K and over should get organized because complaining individually we will not get our commun problems fixed or taking care of, and NYCHA administration will keep pushing us out, mistreting and abusing us. For our own wellness, let's get organized!

Jun. 12 2013 01:01 AM
Pigeon 333 from BKLYN, NY

I have to agree with LadyJ. Being what they consider middle class has no advantages. We don't qualify for anything cause they say we make to much. I am single I make a decent salary, but Uncle Sam is my dependent. I don't bring home what they say I make. Housing is liars also, because they said this phase was going to be phased in in 5 years when they released the rent cap. That cap has beern off for 5 years already, what is wrong with everyone did you forget. My rent was 636.00 ceiling. My rent now as of August is 1,402.00. That is double of what I payed. When does it stop. I work I have to buy metrocards foods clothes cleaning bills. The City of NY is so full of it. You are better off not working getting help. It seems like people who sit on their behinds fair off better then working folks. Now NYCHA is acting like they are doing this over 5 years, it's more like they are doing it over 10 years did everyone forget what happened. It was suppose to be 5 years when they took off the ceiling. Every year they change the rent guidelines. If they are basing my rent on salary I am paying more then 30%, cause I am not bringing home what they are saying I make. Stop looking at gross and look at net, how can we continue to keep paying these high rents and there is no cut off point. I am ready to take something up with an organization and start a class action suit against the city of NY for lying to us. They are acting like they are just starting the 5 year rent increase, it's been going on now for about 8 years.

May. 03 2013 05:31 PM
michael rivera from brooklyn

That means that only there going to rasise rents on the working high earners. There are people who live in housing havent had a job for 10 15 yeaars because of laziness. The terrible thing is some people are going to stop working so there rents can go low.

Mar. 17 2013 06:52 AM
Johanna from LES.....

I live in NYCHA in the lower east side, First and for most I hate the PROJECTS The administration sucks the workers are nasty have attitudes all the time and most of the time the management office have incompetent assistant managers some can't even speak English... It is a shame how this country has turned their back on us middle class working people,Is all about the rich screw the poor and middle class The old people who have been living in the PJ's since forever should move to senior citizen building there are a lot of them who live alone with a 3 bedroom apartment, what is it going to take for this world to be a fair one and about the dogs.... You can't blame the animal for being mean or aggressive that is the owners fault I have one myself and NYCHA wants me to get rid of her just because she is a pit bull mix and weighs over 40 pounds I had to get her because for many years my kids and I were bullied in the PJ's as a paying tenant not on welfare NYCHA did nothing to protect my daughters and I it was an everyday accurance they even denied me a transfer because there wasn't enough police reports on the harrasment we went thru for about 2 years after getting my dog which is like my 4th daughter the harassment stopped no more late night kicks at my door and no more spray painting my door all types of Bitches... Now I sleep well at night knowing whoever dare to come thru that door uninvited will get his/her leg chewed off, now its a battle between me and NYCHA... I will not get rid of my dog for no one in the world, they going to have to buy me out.......... If given enough for my 2 bedroom apartment by the water I would consider moving from NYCHA until then then they will deal with me and my dog....

Sep. 25 2012 12:50 PM
dori from NYC

The increase at the low end would be $23 at the high end $210... a one bedroom apartment which is now $802 would then go for $1024 an increase of $222....who's doing the math.....we don't need an increase we need to know who's keeping the books...

Sep. 05 2012 03:56 PM
Tashy from RedHook

I live in housing & also work for housing i'm also a single parent.I do a lot of overtime so I can try to save money too move out the projects but I can never save money because housing is taking 30% of my overtime money too.It's like i'm working to live in housing when I want a better living conditions for myself & children.

Sep. 04 2012 05:48 PM

Why are NYCA rising the rent on fixed income people like seniors and the ones who have retired or the ones who is living on social security or SSi when you talk about 100 millions where is that money doing to and for what. There are rats all over the place why is this. the trash is all around when it is housing started this. I have lived in NYCA for along time it use to be clean not dirty and we as people have our rights also. Every one who families live in the projects are paying some rent or else they would not be in the projects. If people could live some where else they would and can afford it. What is the problem all of a sudden. It has to be more than just rising the rent none of the people who are doing this live the projects. God sees what you are doing.

Aug. 23 2012 08:58 AM
Dawn from Fulton

I live in public housing and pay the highest rent possible that NYCHA can charge. I understand that rents go up of 30% doesn't seem right especially when we don't bring home gross income and the living conditions that we currently have. How can NYCHA consider making people pay more than the ceiling right now when he have things like mold taking over a bathroom, a broken front door, holes in walls that have not been fixed, rodents (have complained about for over a year), urine, feces and spit in and on elevator floors, walls and staircases as well as crack dealers and crack addicts running rampant throughout the building day and night!!!!!!! I also want to know whats the point of cameras if they can only be used if someone gets killed, raped or robbed shouldn't you be able to use them to see who is vandalizing and putting the residents safety in jeopardy. It's a joke. I am tired of NYCHA bosses acting as though all of this is just ok. Why don't they come and live like this and see if they would want to pay more and live like this. I would also like to note that I understand that people go through tough times but why should I and every other working person have to pay more to cover the people who don't want to go to work and sit around all day doing nothing.

Aug. 16 2012 09:58 AM
True Adjuste Gross Income from Bklyn ny

I make $53231.00. If the housing rules were to change I would have to pay 30% of my gross adjusted income. How NYCHA caculates this income is by crediting me back $490.00 per child since I have three children, this credit would equal to $1470 per year. They then minus this credit from my gross income which according to them brings me to $51761. If they were to remove the ceiling cap, 30% of their figure would have me paying $1,295.00 a month rent. However, in reality after taxes and medical insurance I only bring home $30580.68 which makes my current rent of $735.00 closer to $765.00, which would be %30 of the gross adjusted income after taxes and medical cost.

Aug. 13 2012 03:13 PM
bmarin72 from Bklyn, NY

I live in NYCHA because I fall into what is considered moderate income which is more then low income but less then middle income. And guess what? When I look at affordalbe housing through HPD and other like agencies they usuallly don't cater to me, I fall between the crack of low and moderate income. I would also like to point out that NYCHA takes into account your gross adjusted income which for me is about 30% more then what I actually bring home, I think that will be a problem.

Aug. 13 2012 02:32 PM
yvonne from BROOKLYN


Aug. 10 2012 06:15 PM
Missy from Douglas Houses

I pay 30 percent of my salary and every year I get a cost of living housing goes up on my rent. There are people living next to me don't even pay 200 dollars, that's a problem. I would move if I could afford somewhere else. Being in the middle I can't find a descent middle income apartment. My suggestion is to build a complex where working people making 50plus can live and we wouldn't have a problem paying the high rent. Rent over 1,000.

Aug. 02 2012 07:42 PM
Elena from Wald Houses

This rent increase is unfair...if you want us middle income families to move then why don't you create more middle income housing so that when I pay more I get to live in a nice building where the door is not broken, no urine in the elevators that work, where I don't have to wait for 6 months or more for a if you move us out and you are left with just low income families....housing will fold and that is what they want so they can privatize it and sell it off to the highest bidder...oh yeah especially if you live anywhere close to the water...that would become waterfront property worth millions. Last year my rent went from $746.00 to $963.00 in one shot for a 2 it fair, absolutely not and now that I have done my recertification is it going to be an increase of what $210.00 that really is crazy...for what, a busted lobby door that has been broken for over 2 months, get harrassed by management for having 3 air conditioners (2 of which get removed every winter, although I am being charged an extra $20.00 for my air conditioners and I was never informed that having 3 air conditioners was against housing policy, now they want to threaten my tenancy)I pay for my own repairs to my apartment beleive it or not. I've been living in housing for over 20 yrs. why should I have to move when I love my neighborhood. But this is their plan they want us all out...they want the middle class out first, then its easy to get out the lower income families out because they won't be able to afford their rents because housing will say again we need more money for repairs etc.(although they are sitting on billions of dollars for repairs).. then they privatize them and all becomes luxury housing for the rich! They can say "well if you don't like it move" which is what they want, but what I say "I'm staying If you don't like it try and make me move". It's a cycle get the poor out so we can have the rich move in.....oh by the way NYCHA top employees making $200 thousand a year...what does a person with the job title "Member" do for that kind of money, our money?????

Aug. 02 2012 03:18 PM
concornorth from Brooklyn, NY

NYCHA needs to re-evaluate their policy. You have people living in housing paying little of nothing while the working class is picking up the slack for them. Then the working class stays home when NYCHA schedules apt inspection and no one shows up. This means the working person looses a day at work. NYCHA acts like they don't care. Then when you call the mgmt office to speak to the manager the receptionist lies and tell you the manager has left the office. Also when you want plastering done you have to wait 2 yrs to get it done. This is a sad society that we live in today where people live off the backs of the middle class who are being eliminated. Now it's just the rich and the poor and the middle class fit into the poor.

Aug. 02 2012 01:33 PM
Bklyn0702 from BROOKLYN

I think people need to d their research about public housing... It wasn't ment for people on welfare & ssi!!!! ie...Public housing in its earliest decades was usually much more working-class and middle-class and white than it was by the 1970s. Many Americans associate large, multi-story towers with public housing, but early projects, like the Ida B. Wells projects in Chicago, were actually low-rise, though Le Corbusier superblocks caught on before World War II, as seen in the (union built) Penn South houses in New York. So now NYCHA wants to have that class of people back in their developments! I and a working middle class woman who MOVED INTO NYCHA 3 years ago because MARKET RATE rent is out of control! My rent isnt cheap at all! it is more than 30% of my income, but it is manageable to say the least! So please get your information right! I am glad that the rules have changed! it is unfortunate that low income folks have to suffer but people in the past have abused the NYCHA! Trust me the government will build housing for low income folks. It just won't be the "projects".....

Jul. 18 2012 01:03 PM

I feel that this is all a part of the getrification scheme. Push out poor single minorities that happen to make over 50k although we all know that it takes at least 80k to afford an apartment in NYC. I will survive though. That is what we minorities do best. Good luck to all those to steal from the poor to feed the rich

Jul. 18 2012 10:16 AM


Jul. 11 2012 03:28 PM
Elsa Torres from Bronx

I would like to know when is Section 8 waiting list going to be open.

Jul. 10 2012 09:34 PM
Shanada from Bronx, N.Y.

i don't agree if they wanna raise the it should be raise the same percent for each tenant. People are able to get jobs be wont so they rent wont go up. I work and I take all the overtime I can get pay my rent before its due. I dont get anything the unemployee ppl dont get back my rent raise.

Jul. 10 2012 09:26 PM
Sharon of NYC from New York City

Raising the rents of NYCHA tenants may be a short-term plan that can solve some problems, but in an unstable economy who will be looking to move? A single parented family who is considered to be doing better than average and then forced to move may later become a homeless family because of budget cuts, pay cuts or layoffs. In other ways this is housing discrimination by forcing people to move y raising their rents. A broken system cannot be fixed off the backs of residents who are already broke and broken!

Jul. 10 2012 08:38 AM
Claire from bx, ny

So is it fair that I have to pay more rent then the person next to me???? No I don't think is fair that i have to pay 1100 a month because i decided to do something with my life instead of living of public assistants. My next door neighbor and her weed head sons only pay 125.00 for a 3 bedrm apt. Not fair, so what NYCHA does is that it pushes the hard working people out of public housing...I honestly believe that housing should consider in reviewing some of their provision...if you live in public housing for 20 yrs like some people that i know, then i find that to be a problem. Housing should be for people to start somewhere and then move on. Maybe if they make a law giving people 10 yrs, (and I'm being nice) to better themselves and move on then things would be different. Instead you have family that give the apartment to future generations...i.e. son, daughters, cousins, etc... is that fair...what i have also notice is the female receiving help, living in housing, and having their significant other living with them and not reporting their income or putting them down on the lease...there's a lot of scam going on, and the nycha policy is all broken...I thank God, that I took positive advantage of the system, and now I'm moving out, not by choice, the last increase has push out I refuse to pay 1350 of rent when my next door neighbors are paying less then 200 dollars...but also gave me the opportunity to better myself...middle working class people never get help because we never qualify for anything...but don't let discourage you.

Jul. 02 2012 05:06 PM
factchecker from New York, NY

Another reason why public housing doesn't work because its segregated,
if you make $1000 a month you pay $300, but then you go to work and make $1500 so you you pay $450, in other words why go to work, given the talk
about welfare queens are other hypes and working preferences, its kind of silly, instead a flat fee should be used per apartment , sure defenders have their points, but if one has $500 a month in income, can nycha really sustain
a $150 rent, the other tenants have to chip in to cover.

Similar like the section 8 program, you can't have rent above 30-40% of your income, that is silly, while sympathetic to lower income folks, if your broke and working especially rents could technically go up just slightly if you make money. The sublet policy also needs changes , rents are based probably on fair market value , but as you know the fair market value is not the same for public housing, ie would you rather in a public housing apartment in the neighboorhood or in a regular complex.

Perhaps, maybe folks paying more for their apartments should be granted additional privileges as a compromise.

Jun. 26 2012 04:12 PM


Jun. 25 2012 07:44 PM

to ladyjay114 - unless you have facts behind your statement, i'd keep it to myself. plenty of people in public housing who would rather pocket the money or spend it elsewhere.
nubia from Whitman houses- wake up!! give you something for your money?! how about the housing at a rate you'll see nowhere else in NYC. You want to pay based on your after tax earnings?! hahahahahahahaha don't we all

Jun. 25 2012 07:40 PM
bettieboo from queens

Nycha blessing toomany people like me . its not privite market why should verypoor pay 30% and not have nothing leftover for monthly cost while the person next door tothem pays less than 30% like mta workers what are they doing liveing in public houseing ? they could aford to live any place they choose (just exsample)thats WRONG low low income should only pay 10% its a low income NYCHA IS RIGTH PAY YOUR SHARE OR GET OUT!mybe that's why wehave so much homeless poor familys the people with good jobs got a nycha apartment ahead of theline

Jun. 25 2012 06:47 PM
nubia from Whitman houses

I pay very high rent, yes 30% of my income, I know rent is high everywhere you go but when you pay what some people are paying then I think NYCHA need to inprove things are here. You can't get anything fixed when you need it there is a waiting list, still piss in the elevator and halls, NYCHA has no respect for their tenants, as if some of them don't live in the projects them self. Give of something for our money. And above all you go by our gross income which doesn't make sense we don't bring that home and after taxes you still can;t pay your rent and they want it the first five business days of the month, atleast give a dam and try to see things our way, or atleast think about it.

Jun. 25 2012 11:30 AM

I agree that NYCHA rents should increase as the cost of maintaining the buildings also increases. But the idea by this Administration that there are folks living in the projects that are able to afford the private market just shows how clueless they are. If you could afford the private market, you'd NEVER be in public housing in the first place. People living in the "projects" because they have to, not because they want to.

Jun. 25 2012 09:22 AM

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