This week Mayor de Blasio took a significant step toward addressing the New York City Housing Authority’s $17 billion backlog in infrastructure improvements. His FY2018 preliminary executive budget includes $1 billion over ten years to upgrade roofs in 700-plus NYCHA housing developments – a measure that will help stem further deterioration of public housing stock that is home to more than half a million New York City residents.
More is needed of course, but this long-term investment in preserving a critical source of affordable housing for many of the city’s lowest-income residents represents a challenge to the state. NYCHA’s multi-billion capital needs are the result of more than a decade of chronic underfunding and government disinvestment at the city, state and federal levels. We applaud the mayor for taking action to help restore decent living conditions at NYCHA. The state must follow suit with a comparable investment.
The mayor’s budget also increases the City’s contribution to the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), increasing the number of slots by 5,000 and making up for increases to the minimum wage. CSS will continue working with the de Blasio administration to move toward universal summer jobs service levels in the future. We also hope to see the city pilot new models of SYEP that better connect participants’ experiences to their year-round academic efforts in high school, offering them better preparation for college and careers.
We are disappointed, however, that the mayor declined to include in his preliminary budget funds to mitigate the impact of rising bus and subway fares on the city’s low-income residents. Yesterday the MTA Board voted to keep the base bus and subway fare in place, but to decrease the value of the bonus and increase the cost of seven and 30-day monthly passes. The cumulative effect is our mass transit system will be more expensive overall for the residents who rely on it the most.
As the budget process unfolds, we will continue to urge the mayor to use his authority to make bus and subway fares affordable for New Yorkers who live at the poverty level. We call our campaign “Fair Fares” for a reason: helping those of us with the least is only fair. The mayor should heed this call.