So it’s a Problem if it Affects the Housing Authority But Not if it Affects Private Owners?

New York City’s Independent Budget Office (IBO)recently posted an item on its Web Blog describing the financial difficulties that the NYC Housing Authority may face as a result of increased water and sewer bills (see below).

The piece focuses on the city’s Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) recent conversion of the remaining frontage accounts to flat-rate billing under DEP’s Multi-Family Conservation Program. That program sets a flat-rate of $894.15 per apartment per year which, according to the IBO, is about $60 higher, on average, than previous frontage bills. Under the new billing system, the IBO calculates, the Housing Authority’s water bill will increase from $149.9 million to $160 million. Meeting the increased bills may be a challenge, the IBO says, in light of the Housing Authority’s current operating deficit.

But thousands of private owner of multi-family properties are also affected by DEP’s billing change, with many experiencing increases of $200 or more per apartment per year. These above average increases in cost were totally ignored by the NYC Rent Guidelines Board in its deliberations about setting the allowable level of rent increase for 2012.

The Housing Authority will undoubtedly be eventually bailed out of its dilemma by taxpayer funded subsidies. But private owners of affordable rent regulated properties will be hard-pressed to fund the increased costs without reducing the quality of life in their buildings.

— Jack Freund, Executive Vice President, Rent Stabilization Association

Water Conservation Program Could Cause a Flood of New Problems for the City’s Housing Authority

Posted by Doug Turetsky, August 16, 2012

With the New York City Housing Authority facing a recent barrage of critical press, it’s not surprising that a seemingly small change in how the housing authority will be billed for water has been overlooked. But what may seem like a small drip of an issue now could open a floodgate later.

In an extension of its effort to encourage water conservation, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection last month put the New York City Housing Authority into a water conservation program that requires water meters to be installed at all of the housing authority’s 334 developments. If the housing authority cannot meet the requirements of the conservation program, it may instead be billed by water meters that track the amount of water used in a building. This could result in higher water and sewer bills for an agency already struggling with budget shortfalls and has trouble with the timely upkeep and repair of its properties. Continue reading