By Jessica Katz, July 11, 2019
Several decades ago, London was in the midst of a crisis similar to the one the New York City Housing Authority faces today. Our counterpart across the pond made major changes that vastly improved its public housing. Incoming NYCHA Chairman Gregory Russ should draw from them to deliver the turnaround that New York’s public housing residents urgently need. In the 1980s London’s public housing suffered from extensive capital needs, reduced federal subsidies, weak management processes and disenfranchised tenants who were denied a basic standard of living. Sound familiar?
The size of London’s public housing system—more than 770,000 apartments in 1980—made its emergency even more challenging. (New York City’s has 170,000.) Since then, there has been a remarkable transformation in the housing conditions of public housing residents in London. What lessons could we apply here? First, bold leadership explicitly declared that the living conditions of public housing tenants were unacceptable and would not be allowed to continue. The vast majority of public housing would need to undergo considerable physical improvements, known as “regeneration.”
Second, a housing quality standard (the “Decent Home Standard”) was created…..