Housing Takes Brunt of Giuliani Cuts

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which accounts for only 7 percent of the city’s capital expenditures, is slated for 35 percent of the capital budget cuts under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s budget plan — a total slashing of $59 million from last year. HPD is shrinking its housing development and rehabilitation scope and is no longer bankrolling many of the small neighborhood revitalization initiatives that used to be a big part of its budget. In the few such efforts that are still receiving city funds, including the Bradhurst plan in north-central Harlem, support has been cut back to minimal levels.

But the city is also taking a bite out of several programs central to the agency’s mission of protecting and repairing the city’s affordable housing stock. Despite the passage of recent legislation intended to prevent the city from taking over any more run-down buildings, the Giuliani budget cuts its contributions to the loan programs that are considered essential for such a plan to work, according to the Association for Neighborhood Housing and Development. The Article 8A Loan Program, which gives landlords low-interest loans to repair the infrastructure of crumbling apartment houses, has been cut by nearly one third, down to $3 million. A similar budget line, the Participation Loan Program, is losing about $800,000.

The city’s effort to sell off the tax-delinquent in rem housing it owns continues. Planned capital spending for the Tenant Interim Leasing Program, which promotes tenant ownership through low-income cooperatives, remains at about $20 million. The Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Program, which rehabilitates buildings for sale to for-profit landlords, is one of the very few HPD programs to see a boost, and is scheduled to consume about $57 million, about one-fifth of the agency’s capital budget. And capital investment in the Neighborhood Revitalization Program, which rehabilitates occupied in rem buildings for sale to nonprofits, is slated to increase about $8 million.

Another entry in the agency’s pervasive do-more-with-less credo, the Neighborhood Preservation Consultants — local nonprofit housing experts hired by HPD to provide organizing and technical expertise to tenants and building owners — are being given increasingly onerous responsibilities without additional money to cover the expense. In addition, the Mayor has once again zeroed out the budget line for lawyers to fight eviction proceedings — an allocation that the City Council was able to restore last year.

Reprinted with permission from City Limits Weekly.