City Councilman Donovan Richards (D- Arverne, Bayswater, Broad Channel, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Howard Beach, Jamaica, Rockaway Beach, South Ozone Park, Springfield Gardens) and Brooklyn Borough President Eric L Adams toured New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) Ocean Bay Apartments in Arverne/Far Rockaway in hopes of spreading a Federal Public/Private program to make vital repairs in the city’s beleagured public housing system.
The Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) is a federal housing program started as a pilot in 2012 and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) administrated. RAD allows private capital investment and contracts for the development and rehabilitation of deeply affordable rental housing.
RAD was authorized as a demonstration program and will terminate if the program is not made permanent or reauthorized before September 30, 2020.
The program has been a large success in the Ocean Bay housing complex, with renovations made to both the interior and exterior of the buildings, with a noticeable amount of construction workers sprawled about with power tools.
Adams and Richards walked through the buildings admiring newly redone bathrooms and boilers with tenants.
“This is more than just about rhetoric, this is about getting stuff done, and when it comes down to it, at the end of the day the focus should always be on residents,” said Richards. “What we’ve accomplished here is only possible because of a strong partnership with the people who actually live here, that’s where it starts and ends.”
NYCHA residents have suffered throughout this past year with frequent heating and water issues, as well as chipping lead paint and unresponsive building managers. The RAD program attempts to rectify that by providing repairs and managing a lot of these issues which can plague NYCHA buildings.
The program aims at not only fixing current issues but preserving buildings with ongoing maintenance and repairs.
RAD allows for residents to have a bathroom flipped in a day’s time, or lets them stay in another apartment while construction is being done- so the work gets done without inconveniencing tenants.
Michael Rooney, founding principal of Management Development Construction, the construction company partnered with NYCHA on the repairs believed that it was important to remain forward thinking.
“The test is one year from now, five years from now, to maintain,” said Rooney.
Adams stressed the importance of the work Richards has done and how it affects NYCHA tenants.
“You have to believe that the people who live here deserve the same quality that you have in your own home,” said Adams. “Nothing personified this trip more than when the councilman told me ‘family members said I invite guests here over the holidays so they can see where I live’- people are proud.”
Richards spoke about the value of advocating and getting people involved in the fixing NYCHA not just because its part of our city but because the people who live there make up our city.
“These are the individuals who drive our city and it’s a shame that they’ve had to live in the condition’s that they’ve lived in for decades,” said Richards. “It’s not about a popularity contest all the time, it’s not about rhetoric, it’s about coming out and truly saying you know what this is not working we have to move in a different direction.”