NYC 15/15: Guest Blog from HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer
Commissioner Torres-Springer on NYC 15/15 and HPD's new NYC 15/15 Rental Assistance Program.
Addressing homelessness is a moral imperative, and a central goal of Housing New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to create 300,000 affordable apartments by 2026. At the forefront of this effort is supportive housing – a proven, effective model that pairs affordable housing with on-site services, saves public dollars, and meets the special needs of the most vulnerable New Yorkers. That is why, in November 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the NYC Supportive Housing Initiative to create 15,000 new units of supportive housing in New York City over the next 15 years.
This far reaching initiative includes a projected 7,500 newly-constructed congregate (single-site) units, which will be financed by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and 7,500 scattered-site apartments that will be created by the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA). NYC DOHMH will manage the service contracts on an ongoing basis.
HPD has a strong track record of financing new construction and preservation of supportive housing through its various loan programs. To date under Housing New York, the agency has financed over 3,000 supportive housing units, which includes early progress towards the NYC Supportive Housing Initiative. And we recently launched the NYC 15/15 Rental Assistance Program to subsidize rent for homeless individuals and households living in permanent, rent stabilized supportive housing units. This City-funded project-based rental assistance is modelled after the project-based Section 8 program, but is not subject to changes in federal funding levels and requirements, making it a particularly critical and timel innovation.
HRA is the lead agency for procuring service awards for the scattered site and congregate units through a Request for Proposals (EPIN: 09617I0006 available through HSS Accelerator). HPD will match NYC 15/15 Rental Assistance to units that are awarded services under HRA’s RFP. Once a project receives a tentative award letter, the application for rental assistance is quick and straightforward – sponsors only need to fill out a two-page application with basic project information. HPD will then work with applicants to issue a commitment letter for NYC 15/15 Rental Assistance that aligns with the HRA award.
Similar to Section 8, the initial contract rents for NYC 15/15 congregate units will be up to the Fair Market Rent (FMR), and owners may request annual increases. Similar to Section 8, owners receive an Agreement to enter into Rental Assistance Contract prior to construction closing. Once the project has a Certificate of Occupancy and units have passed a Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection, the owner can allow tenants to move in and sign a Rental Assistance Contract (RAC) to begin payments.
We do this work in the face of incredible uncertainty. For decades, the federal government has been chipping away at programs and resources for affordable housing. Today, it seems all of the programs we rely on –the HOME Investment Partnership Program, Section 8, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, Private Activity Bonds – are under threat. And while ultimately we are in a better place because of the fierce and coordinated advocacy of the Network and affordable housing groups across the country, the fight is far from over.
While there are many threats and challenges on the course ahead, there are also opportunities. Indeed, New York City has long been a leader in showing how the supportive housing community can adapt and innovate. Now, more than ever, we need creative solutions like this new rental assistance program to serve those who are most in need of supportive housing, while demanding that no level of government walk away from its obligation to house our most vulnerable.
More information about the NYC 15/15 Rental Assistance Program can be found on HPD’s website. If you have a site in mind, we encourage you to talk to us! We are open for business and eager to work with you to make your supportive housing project a reality.
We are grateful to our friends at the Network for their tireless advocacy and support to develop these buildings, and to all the providers who turn them into homes. We wish you all the best for a happy, healthy New Year, and look forward to continuing our partnership to provide safe, high-quality affordable housing and services for New Yorkers across the five boroughs.
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