Skip to Main Content

Public Housing

About the Public Housing Program

The Public Housing Law of 1939 launched the country's first state-subsidized public housing program. This program introduced several social innovations not found in Federal legislation passed several years earlier. These innovations are prime examples of New York's leadership in housing and social programs. The State's housing developments, unlike those financed by the Federal government, admitted elderly single persons and barred discrimination in selecting public housing tenants based on race, color, creed or religion. Since 1939, the State has financed the construction of 66,123 apartments for low-income families in 143 housing developments owned and operated by 42 municipal housing authorities. The housing developments, financed by $960 million in general obligation bond authorizations, are supported by an annual State subsidy.

Despite State and local subsidies, basic operating costs have risen faster than the tenants' ability to pay. The resulting deficits have eroded reserve funds necessary to replace worn out facilities and improve older projects. The State has assisted housing authorities in upgrading their developments through the Federal Public Housing Acquisition Program (federalization) and the State's Public Housing Modernization Program (PHM).

Federalization provided assistance in the form of operating subsidies and funds for substantial rehabilitation of projects. Because this program incorporated Federal operating subsidies, municipalities were relieved of the burden of meeting operating deficits. To date, 63 State-aided public housing developments were federalized, and are now operated under Federal rules and regulations.

For projects remaining under State supervision, DHCR has encouraged housing authorities to consider "restructurings" initiatives as a means to upgrade and modernize existing residential facilities. Restructurings unite private sector investment and public resources to redevelop public housing properties thereby preserving affordable housing for low income families. To date, successful restructurings have been occurred at 15 Housing Authorities encompassing 24 housing developments.

For more information, contact DHCR's Housing Management Bureau.

Last updated on 03/23/05