Heard Around Town: Vicki Been on HPD Downsizing and the Sequestration

Published in City & State

Vicki Been, the new commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, was put on the spot about the agency’s downsizing program for subsidized housing yesterday during a City Council hearing. This downsizing involves moving tenants from apartments that are too big for residents to more appropriately sized ones. Questioning from City Council members and Public Advocate Letitia James at the hearing centered around the sick and elderly who go through tremendous shock or strain if moved to a new, unfamiliar apartment that may not be suited to their needs. The appeals period was another area of concern—a period of only 15 days—which many cited as not enough time for someone to get documentation of a medical condition from a doctor. The downsizing is a result of the 2013 national sequestration. HPD was hit with a sudden and brutal $37 million in federal cuts.  Been said that HPD downsized to prevent kicking out approximately 3,000 families from public housing. “I’m faced with a Congress that is dysfunctional at best, and is leaving us in the position where we’re either cutting people out of our program and taking vouchers away… or taking these kinds of steps to try and save some dollars so we don’t have to cut people off the program…It’s not a choice that I or my staff have taken lightly. It pains us enormously. And that’s where we are.”

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Filed under Budget, City Council, Housing, Money

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