New York City Housing Authority

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New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)
New York City Housing Authority (logo).svg
Agency overview
Formed 1934
Jurisdiction New York City
Headquarters 250 Broadway, Manhattan, New York
Employees 13,000
Agency executive Shola Olatoye, Chair & CEO
Parent agency New York City

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) provides public housing for low- and moderate-income residents throughout the five boroughs of New York City. NYCHA also administers a citywide Section 8 Leased Housing Program in rental apartments. However, new applications for Section 8 have not been accepted since December 10, 2009.[1] Many of its facilities are known popularly as "projects," or "developments." As a security measure, these premises are patrolled by the NYPD Housing Bureau. A total of 9 "PSA's," or Police Service Areas, patrol each borough except Staten Island, which has a separate unit from the Housing Bureau command, known as the "SIHU" or Staten Island Housing Unit.

NYCHA was created in 1934. At the end of 1935, NYCHA dedicated its first development, called First Houses, located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The Authority boomed in partnership with Robert Moses after World War II as a part of Moses' plan to clear old tenements and remake New York as a modern city. Moses indicated later in life that he was disappointed at how the public housing system fell into decline and disrepair. Originally intended for working families, the projects increasingly became occupied by low-income families, many of whom had no working adult.[citation needed] The majority of NYCHA developments were built between 1945 and 1965. Unlike most cities, New York depended heavily on city and state funds to build its housing, rather than just the federal government. Most of the postwar developments had over 1000 apartment units each, and most were built in the modernist, tower-in-the-park style popular at the time.

The Authority is the largest public housing authority (PHA) in North America. In spite of many problems, it is still considered by experts to be the most successful big-city public housing authority in the country. Whereas most large public housing authorities in the United States (Chicago, St. Louis, Baltimore, etc.) have demolished their high-rise projects and in most cases replaced them with lower scale housing, New York's continue to be fully occupied. Most of its market-rate housing is also in high-rise buildings. New York also maintains a long waiting list for its apartments. Because of demand, the Housing Authority in recent years, has selected more "working families" from applicants to diversify the income structure of occupants of its housing, as had been typical of residents who first occupied the facilities. NYCHA's Conventional Public Housing Program has 181,581 apartments (as of July 20, 2005) in 345 developments throughout the city.[citation needed]

NYCHA has approximately 13,000 employees serving about 176,221 families and approximately 403,120 authorized residents. Based on the 2010 census, NYCHA's Public Housing represents 8.2% of the city's rental apartments and is home to 4.9% of the city’s population. NYCHA residents and Section 8 voucher holders combined occupy 12.4% of the city's rental apartments.[2]

In mid-2007, NYCHA faced a $225 million budget shortfall.

Isaacs Houses, Upper East Side / East Harlem
Amsterdam Houses, Upper West Side
Drew-Hamilton Houses
East River Houses
Harborview, Hell's Kitchen
Metro North Plaza
Rangel Houses
Washington Heights




Betances, Mott Haven
The Morrisania Air Rights in the Melrose section of the Bronx
The Millbrook Houses define the skyline of the Mott Haven section of Bronx
Morris Houses
Pelham Parkway Houses
Coney Island Houses
Cooper Park Houses
Ingersoll Houses, Ft Greene
Lafayette Houses
Marlboro Houses, Gravesend
NYCHA, Sheepshead Houses
NYCHA houses in Canarsie
Unity Tower, Coney Island
Wyckoff Gardens



Astoria Houses
The Queensbridge Houses

Staten Island[edit]


  • Staten Island has 10 developments with 4,499 apartments
  • Queens has 22 developments with 17,126 apartments
  • The Bronx has 100 developments with 44,500 apartments
  • Brooklyn has 98 developments with 58,669 apartments
  • Manhattan has 102 developments with 53,890 apartments[4]
  • The Brownsville section of Brooklyn now has the highest concentration of low income public housing in America, following the demolition of a huge 5-mile long tract of public housing stretching along State and Federal on Chicago's South Side. While pre-Plan For Transformation Chicago Housing Authority high-rise developments tended to be much larger and more concentrated than those of the NYCHA, the NYCHA operates several times as many apartments and houses three times as many residents. East Harlem in Manhattan has the second highest concentration of public housing in the nation, closely following Brownsville.
  • The Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City, Queens, is now North America's largest housing project with 3,142 apartments, following the demolition of several larger Chicago housing projects, including the Cabrini–Green Homes and the Robert Taylor Homes (whose 4,321 three, four and five bedroom apartments once made it the largest public housing project in the world).[5]
  • The Bronx's largest development is Edenwald Houses in Edenwald with 2,036 apartments.
  • Brooklyn's largest development is Red Hook Houses in Red Hook with 2,878 apartments.
  • Manhattan's largest development is Baruch Houses on the Lower East Side with 2,391 apartments
  • Staten Island's largest development is Stapleton Houses in Stapleton with 693 apartments.[6]
  • 10 developments consisting of FHA Acquired Homes are located in more than one borough and total 200 apartments
  • 42 developments are for seniors only; 15 seniors-only buildings exist within mixed-population developments
  • NYCHA has approximately 9,822 apartments designated for seniors only
  • There also are 7,639 retrofitted apartments for families of persons who are mobility impaired as of September 30, 2007
  • As of October 1, 2007: Two developments are at least 70 years old; a total of 13 developments are at least 60 years old; there are 62 developments 50 to 59 years old; another 76 developments are 40 to 49 years old, and 95 developments are 30 to 39 years old.
  • The combined demographics of all public housing developments in New York City is about 46% Black, 44% Hispanic, 4% White, and 5% Asian and 1% other.[7]


   Name                      Term                                  Appointed by (Mayor)

1. Langdon Post February 17, 1934 - December 1, 1937 (LaGuardia) 2. Alfred Rhienstein December 17, 1937 - October 9, 1939 (LaGuardia) 3. Gerard Swope December 11, 1939 - January 26, 1942 (LaGuardia) 4. Edmond Borgia Butler May 2, 1942 - July 1, 1947 (LaGuardia) 5. Thomas F. Farrell July 1, 1947 - September 15, 1950 (O'Dwyer) 6. Philip J. Cruise September 15, 1950 - April 3, 1958 7. William Reid April 1958 - December 31, 1965 (Wagner) 8.  ? 9. Gerald J. Carey 1966 10. Walter E. Washington 1966 - 1967 (Lindsay) 11. Albert Walsh October 31, 1967 - January 7, 1970 (Lindsay) 12. Simeon Golar January 16, 1970 - May 31, 1973 (Lindsay) 13. Joseph J. Christian 1973 - December 31, 1985 (Lindsay, Beame, Koch) 14. Emanuel P. Popolizio January 4, 1986 - November 1990 (Koch) 15. Laura D. Blackburne 1990 - February 22, 1992 (Dinkins) 16. Sally B. Hernandez-Pinero February 22, 1992 - January 1994 (Dinkins) 17. Ruben Franco January 31, 1994 - January 7, 1999 (Giuliani) 18. John G. Martinez April 19, 1999 - April 1. 2001 (Giuliani) 19. Tino Hernandez April 11, 2001 - November 21 - December 12, 2008(Giuliani) 20. Ricardo Elias Morales December 15, 2008 - May 13, 2009 (Bloomberg) 21. John B. Rhea June 1, 2009 - December 30, 2013 (Bloomberg) 22. Shola Olatoye February 8, 2014 - Present (DeBlasio)

Police department[edit]

New York City Housing Authority Police Department
NYC Housing Police.jpg
Patch of the New York City Housing Authority Police Department.
NYC Housing Authority Police badge.jpg
Shield of the New York City Housing Authority Police Department
Agency overview
Formed 1952
Dissolved 1995
Superseding agency New York City Police Department
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* City of New York in the state of New York, USA
Map of New York Highlighting New York City.svg
Map of New York City Housing Authority Police Department's jurisdiction.
Size 1,214.4 km²
Population 8,274,527
Legal jurisdiction New York City
General nature
Specialist jurisdiction Buildings and lands occupied or explicitly controlled by the institution and the institution's personnel, and public entering the buildings and precincts of the institution.
Operational structure
Police Officers 2700+
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The New York City Housing Authority Police Department was a law enforcement agency in New York City that existed from 1952 to 1995, it is currently part of the NYPD. The roots of this organization go back to 1934 and the creation of the New York City Housing Authority. New York City Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia authorized the hiring of security guards to patrol the city's public housing buildings. These guards eventually were trained and became the first officers of the Housing Police, which was officially created in 1952.[8] The Housing Police, along with the New York City Transit Police, was merged into the New York City Police Department in 1995 by New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and continues today as the Housing Bureau.


Creation of the New York City Housing Authority[edit]

In 1934, under the authority of the NYS Public Housing Law, the NYCHA was established. Housing Authority developments quickly began to sprout up around the five boroughs of New York City. It didn't take long for the City to realize that these developments, some like little cities, provided unique policing challenges. The initial response was a simple one - the formation of a security guard corps with individual guards assigned to specific developments.

As time passed the problems of law enforcement throughout the City became more complex. Calls for service to the NYPD from housing developments increased dramatically, and it became clear that a more professional law enforcement component than the guard service was needed to deal with the complexities of policing diverse, decentralized public housing developments.

Beginning of the NYCHA Police Department[edit]

In December 1952 the NYCHA Police Service was formed to answer the above challenge.

Initially, the officers assigned to this new group were designated as "special patrolmen." This designation gave them limited police powers, including the authority to effect arrests and to carry firearms while on duty. The qualifications for employment in this new group were more stringent than those required of the former guard service, and the training afforded them, more comprehensive.

Although these officers performed more effectively and efficiently than the former guard service, this arrangement, too, had its limitations. However, this was all to change.

In 1958, legislation was enacted making members of the Housing Police sworn police officers, with full peace officer status. Subsequently, in 1966, the state legislature designated the Housing Police a duly constituted Police Department. As part of that same legislation, the role of law enforcement agents became more specific. Members of police departments throughout New York State, including the NYC Police Department, NYC Transit Police Department, and the NYC Housing Police Department, were designated "police officers" with broad arrest powers. Their former category of "peace officer" was reserved for other members of the law enforcement community. This latter group, composed of corrections officers, court officers, and others whose need for arrest powers was somewhat less immediate, were granted more limited powers.

By this time, the Housing Police had already established a reputation as an effective, foot patrol oriented, neighborhood police force. Groups of officers were assigned to individual developments or clusters of several adjoining developments. This resulted in the officers developing an intimate knowledge of the tenants and conditions in their assigned developments. Their awareness of potential and actual criminal activity greatly enhanced their ability to suppress crime, as well as making them an excellent source of intelligence for detectives investigating past crimes.

The downside of this strategy was an inadequate amount of first line supervision. Because of the expanded span of control for sergeants (they could have as many as 40 officers assigned, working at several different housing developments) officers got little field supervision.

Development of the Police Service Area system[edit]

The Department recognized this problem and it was rectified in 1978, with the establishment of the Police Service Area concept. This concept was based on the number of calls for service, the personnel available, and the geographical area served. Considering these factors, nine (9) PSA's, covering all the public housing developments in the City of New York, were established.

The PSA's were essentially precinct type operations, with officers reporting to one of the nine locations. In addition, the Housing Police radio network was scrapped in favor of assimilation into the 911 radio network. Further, the training of all new police officers was shifted to the NYC Police Academy.

This new distribution of resources alleviated several of the deficiencies of the previous system. It also provided greater interplay between officers of the NYPD and the Housing Police. Officers now were part of a precinct-type operation, standing roll call, being seen by their supervisors on a daily basis, exchanging information with other officers within their command, and responding to radio calls transmitted via the 911 system.

The establishment of the PSA's marked the beginning of the modern era of the Housing Police Department. The Department already had Patrol Bureau, Detective Bureau, Internal Affairs Bureau, Support Service Bureau, and Personnel Services Bureau components. But after the establishment of the PSA's these Bureaus grew and became more diversified with many specialized units created to deal with special conditions and circumstances.

The Patrol Bureau, the largest of the Bureaus, created and deployed Project Stabilization Units, Narcotics Units, Anti Crime Units, Bicycle Units, and Emergency Rescue Units; the Detective Bureau deployed a Homicide/Major Case Squad, Robbery Squad, Burglary Squad, Warrant Squad, Elevator Vandalism Squad, and each PSA had a Precinct Detective Unit assigned; the Internal Affairs Bureau had a Special Investigation Unit, and the Civilian Complaint Review Unit; Support Services Bureau had the Motor Pool, responsible for the acquisition, and maintenance of all Department vehicles now numbering over 200; and the Personnel Services Bureau fielded the Police Academy Unit, the Firearms Training Unit and the Driver Training Unit, making the Department the largest and most professional Housing Police Department in the world.

In the span of 43 years, the Department moved from 47 sworn officers in December 1952, to a diverse Department of over 2700 sworn personnel in 1995.

On May 1, 1995, the New York City Housing Authority Police Department was merged into the New York City Police Department and now exists in spirit in the NYPD Housing Bureau.

Notable residents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ NYCHA Brevoort
  4. ^
  5. ^ Barry, Dan. "Don't Tell Him the Projects Are Hopeless", The New York Times, March 12, 2005. Accessed July 16, 2008. "UP, up, up it rises, this elevator redolent of urine, groaning toward the rooftop of another tired building in the Queensbridge public housing development, the largest in Queens, in New York, in North America."
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ New York City Police Museum site Accessed January 26, 2008

External links[edit]