- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - The general manager of the city’s housing agency told a City Council oversight hearing on Monday about ways it is looking to restructure its finances, including shrinking its workforce.

Michael Kelly testified in front of the public housing and finance committees. The hearing followed the unveiling last month of a plan to deal with a financial crisis at the New York City Housing Authority, which has about 12,000 employees.

Kelly said the agency intends to shrink its central office workforce by 1,000 people through attrition and the integration of some operations into other city agencies, a move that’s expected to achieve an annual savings of about $90 million by 2018.

Several council members, including Committee on Public Housing chairman Ritchie Torres, questioned the Housing Authority’s plan to hand over control of its community centers to the Department of Youth and Community Development and the Department of the Aging.

Kelly said the Housing Authority deemed it best to hand the centers over to agencies.

“I think it’s a question of looking at this incredible financial crisis that we’re in and looking for long-term sustainable sources of income,” Kelly said.

However, Torres pointed out that the City Council has footed the bill for the Housing Authority’s community centers in recent years, amounting to $17.1 million in fiscal year 2015 for 24 community centers and 33 senior centers, so shifting the management over to other agencies wouldn’t bring in any savings to the Housing Authority.

“It just seems to me an ideological decision, is that you have this belief that NYCHA should not be running community centers, and you made that decision, frankly, without seeking the input of elected officials, or the resident leaders, many of whom strongly oppose your decision,” Torres said.

Councilman Andy King said many of his district members were dismayed at the decision.

The Housing Authority runs tens of millions of dollars in the red each year and needs $17 billion in repairs and improvements.

The city has already relieved the Housing Authority of its annual payment to the New York Police Department for services at Housing Authority developments. In fiscal 2015, that amounts to $70 million.

Additionally, the city has waived the Housing Authority’s payment in lieu of taxes, a fee the Housing Authority has paid to the city every year since 1949.

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