Over 1,600 public housing agencies across the U.S. have reported a substantial decrease in rent payments since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and New York City is at the forefront of that crisis. In the 12 months leading up to December 2022, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) collected just 65% of all rent charged throughout the city, the lowest percentage recorded in the agency’s nearly 100-year history, The New York Times reports.
NYCHA oversees more than 270 developments across the metro area, which are home to roughly 340,000 people. The agency’s current lack of rent collections amounts to a deficit of almost half a billion dollars, impeding and preventing repairs, day-to-day-operations, and necessary construction work on new and existing apartments.
New York’s public housing system was once heralded as a progressive triumph, providing solid, stable homes for working-class people. But dwindling funds, scandal and mismanagement have made it the focus of one of the city’s most urgent crises and a high-profile example of the effects of the federal government’s retreat from housing. NYCHA estimates it needs a staggering $40 billion to return its developments to decent condition.