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Public Housing in Lower Manhattan


This is a project aimed at describing and discussing the conditions of public housing for families of different classes in New York City. The selected areas are intended to represent the living conditions in the entire City. The foundation for this project is the hypothesis that the living conditions for Families residing in the Public Housing premises in New York City in the Lower East Side were extremely very poor and under informal social control. The hypothesis further argues that housing authority uses this scenario as an indicator of slum clearance while it has hidden intentions to eliminate or separate the individual residents residing in their apartment buildings. The project involves an exploration of the public housing in lower Manhattan and an assessment of the mode of issues of the lease documents by the New York City Housing Authority. A comparison of graphical images will create avenues for critical comparison of the two classes of families. It will thus be able to show the perception of the NYCHA, concerning the legitimate or the desirable residents of the city. The photographs of various families will be used to represent and communicate more information about the struggles in the Slums and the magnificent and comfortable lives in the high-class public apartments.

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Functions of New York City Housing Authority

To test the thesis statement, it is vital to study the functions against the objectives and roles of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). The authority came into existence in 1934 as a statutory agency whose main functions were to provide affordable public housing. Its main target group was the low-income earning families and the middle-class families residing in the rental premises all over the boroughs in New York City, five in total.

The first development or project of the NYCHA was developed towards the end of 1935, around the Lower East Side of the Manhattan area. At the end of the Second World War, The NYCHA became a strong partner of Robert Moses in a movement to eliminate old apartments to renovate the city into a modern status. One indication of dissatisfaction with the condition of the city, Moses expressed his disappointment at the way the New York public housing system functioned. Initially, the system and the project were intended to work with families.

Allocation of Public Housing facilities

The design and the planning of the city indicate that New York City was meant for well-to-do households rather than low-class family setups. For example, NYCHA developed the Bronx as a project with 90 developments consisting of more than 45000 apartments. On the other hand, it developed Manhattan to have 102 projects with approximately 54,000 apartments. It is rather outrageous to the low-class families that in the Queens Development project, 42 of them were mainly meant for seniors. Whereas the area could hold larger capacity people, it was set aside to accommodate only fifteen senior members of the high class. This was regardless of the massive population of people that had resided in the immediate locality. In the same development project, NYCHA has about approximately 9,900 apartments which are set aside for the senior officials only. Every time the city mayor announces the new development plan, the poor families are left out of the plan.

Allocation of Public Housing facilities

Families living in the Public Housing facilities in New York City in the Lower East Side live in congestion as studies have shown, causing complaints that they could not bear living under such challenges. This is in line with the claims from the hypothesis that the living conditions were characterized by informal social control. Further to that, the housing authority (NYCHA) presented a turnover rate of about 3 percent in the year 2012 for the available public housing apartments. This also confirms beyond a reasonable doubt, the housing authority claims that this priority structure is an act of slum clearance. Essentially, the housing authority had its main agenda to filter or eliminate the individuals living below the poverty line to residing in their apartments. They appear to apply an indirect rule in executing this strategy, since they make the living conditions unbearable, increasing the costs of housing in the public housing facilities and making quality houses scarce to reduce availability and affordability.

Community cleaning of the low-income housing

NYCHA has computerized selection of Tenants in a system that neutrally selects applicants for specific apartments based on the needs and priorities. The system matches and assigns applicants and families to the spaces that is available in the public houses as and when they arise. The automatic selection and allocation system eradicates all intrusion from foreign entities proceeds to provide fair selection of the new tenants for the available vacant apartments, of course depending on the priorities and the needs. The affordability of the available apartments naturally locks the poor families from the large houses and guarantees the fact that high income earners will access large houses, and will be full of space and resources.

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Community cleaning of the low-income housing

Visible Effects

Families are presented in the order of the effects that the public housing conditions have on them. Owing to the various needs and priorities which the automatic housing allocation system uses, there are noticeably low rates of turnover and vacancies of the apartments. Virtually, it is therefore extremely difficult to establish average duration in which a family waits before engaging in the conventional public housing program.

A stressed man from low-income family
A stressed man from low-income family.

The financial aspect of the projects

The vast majority of public housing projects in New York City are financed and subsidized by the Federal government of the United States of America under the housing program and are characterized by smaller apartments, either single-roomed, one-bedroom houses or two bedrooms. The division is a strategy of the city officials to manage the demand caused by the demographic trends. While the officials claim as per the study hypothesis that this is merely a way to clear the city, it is clear according to the observation by many developers that the city subsidizes only the projects to discourage developers from constructing larger apartments. The most affected low-income earners are large families since they face a shortage of housing.

Most of the existing apartments having more than three bedrooms are in the hands of high-income earning individuals. It is a common feature to find a three-bedroomed house only occupied by one or two people, whereas a family of eight occupants congests in a one-bedroomed house. The patterns of financing the constructions encourage the developers to build three-bedroomed houses since they can only be affordable to high-income earning households. If the city authorities genuinely had the intention to provide equal chances for housing regardless of the social and financial status, then there could be the priority given to the low-income earning, using the criteria of family sizes. The prevailing living conditions in the region notwithstanding, the city mayor has been applauded by the rich families for coordinating the largest spread of cost-effective housing facilities for over 20 years

One of the coordinators of the development projects commented that the community had learned that it is vital to have large numbers of houses to select from without possibly losing focus on the dire need and propriety of housing. The city housing authorities and the developers alike have raised a question on whether it is reasonable to focus the scarce resources on housing the small volumes of rich families or to use the public housing facilities to benefit everyone. According to demographic surveys, the largest share of properties in Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn is owned by high-class families and the average household population size is 3.

The hypothesis of the study is right to the fact that city housing authorities constantly imply in their actions that it is not their obligation to give free subsidies and reward to people by their large families. By this, the NYCHA through one of the senior officials at the Manhattan Policy and Research Institute, laid the responsibility and perhaps rightly so, of reasonably supporting and raising children to the parents who consciously decided to bear them.

Original Lease Document

The New York City Authority holds the title of the US biggest public housing authority. Even though it faces the challenge of balancing housing between the rich and the poor, it is the only authority that can manage the housing projects for the big-city in the US. It is worth noting at this point that most of the large public housing authorities all over the US have destroyed their apartment development projects amidst challenges and instead engaged in lower housing units. However, New York City Housing Authority bravely continues and is in high demand. The lease documents are designed and attached to conditions that mainly favor working families. The occupants who pioneered the stay in the occupancy of any house do not find it easy to leave the occupancy to another occupant. New application for lease does not find chances in the desired areas but in whichever available vacancies.

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Conditions of the Lease documents

The lease document contains the mandatory recertification procedure required as annual housing unit allocation regulations. The tenant is obliged by the Housing Choice Voucher Process to provide the data regarding the family composition together with the income statement data to the housing authority NYCHA for every member of the household. This is required if the tenant is ever to continue receiving any assistance from the federal government, such as rental subsidies.

Recertification Document

The process of NYCHA for recertification gives an adequate amount of time for families to abide by their regulations for the entire term of the occupancy of the housing units. The recertification requires tenants to complete all the pages of the Affidavit of Income. This must be done about 5 months before the lease anniversary date. Tenants are obliged to sign the 36 pages of the affidavit and also to sign the form for declaring assets and the verification form for a third party. The Affidavit of income (AOI) can be hand-delivered or mailed through post services to any customer service center of the New York City Housing Authority.

Lease Renewal document

This document describes the working of section 8 of the lease renewal regulations and the dire consequences of defaulting to the regulations. The process of lease renewal starts with Section 8, which compels the landlord to promptly alert the housing authority (NYCHA) about two months before the projected rent hike. Once the alert for renewal is made and the NYCHA gets the required documentation, the next step is the assessment of the rent reasonability. In many instances, the NYCHA decides on the approved increment during the renewal. The rent increment should not go beyond the optimal payment regulation as described by Section 8 payment of the document. If it exceeds, then the owner of the house shall receive the increased rent paid by the tenant. The NYCHA does not have any responsibility of informing the landlord when the tenant’s lease renewal should take place. On the contrary to that fact, the notification should be originating from the landlord and moving to the notification of the NYCHA, informing the authority that the renewal increase is due. The landlord requests for the lease renewal approval either by visiting the customer service centers of the NYCHA or by phone call.

Very vital, is the fact that the landlord has to complete the two forms before submitting them to NYCHA. The lease renewal documentation and the annual recertification are essentially burdensome to an extent that low-income families cannot obtain any manner of assistance. To ensure that the lease document and all the required certification documentation returns to the NYCHA, they have to be received at least two months before the material date when the rent is to be increased. This provides adequate time for timely processing. The landlord must ensure that he or she sends a notification to the city housing authority about the rent increase. If the landlord submits the required lease documentation within the required timeline of two months, then before the date of the proposed increase in rental charges. Failure to receive the lease documents on time means that the NYCHA will proceed to settle the payment of subsidies to the landlord using the old contract terms of rent payment. NYCHA will produce the rent increment from the first day of the third month upon receipt and approval of the required documentation.

Consideration of desirable Tenants

It is evident from the strict conditions that Tenants must be from high-class families in economic scales to be able to declare wealth. The city housing officials have predetermined categories of people who should be given the upper hand in accessing the houses. The right people to acquire housing facilities according to the actions of the NYCHA officials are anyone in the high-income earning bracket. Because the recertification is an annual process, it has a heavy cost implication on the tenants, and naturally creates inevitable constraints on the low-income households. The fact that the occupant can afford to pay for any size of the house seems to matter more than the number of people who should occupy a given area. One of the housing officials representing a section of the estates commented that New York City had a responsibility to help large families with large spaces for living to avoid overcrowding in smaller houses. The idea ended up in a theoretical and philosophical debate that bore no fruit as far as the main target groups were concerned. Their pressures and pleas to the housing authorities on the same issue ignited a new decision on how they could acquire affordable housing and of better conditions.

The immediate and more urgent need of critical priority is that the large families are suffering since they cannot afford large houses. At the same time, they acknowledge that it is not fair for the government to exercise discrimination against large families due to their size. For large that require large living spaces, they cannot get the desired sizes because every price range for such houses disadvantages them at every step. The government does not subsidize all houses but certain selected categories which the large poor families cannot access. Some of the subsidized houses belong to rich government officials who even exclusive of the subsidies are able and can afford the three-bedroom units. Some of them are four-bedroom apartment units and even more than five bedrooms, far beyond the affordability of the poor large families notwithstanding their dire need for ample spacing.

Defaulting on the lease Document Processing

If the recertification document is not completed properly or is not adequately signed, then New York City Housing Authority will remind the applicant through the mail and request the additional information. Through the reminder notice, the applicant will identify the elements of the documentation the authority needs for the recertification process. The additional information (AI) notification, which is a request for additional documents or additional clarification of the already presented information, has a barcode used to identify the cases of every tenant. This document has to be replied through the mail because of the necessary elements of documentation that it contains. In case, the applicant does not send the original form with the barcode, the lease documentation and annual recertification can be delayed. It, therefore, means the government will not be able to subsidize any new increment that is not reflected in the agreement. This is a serious consequence of noncompliance with the requirements of lease documentation.

Similarly, if all the signatures and the documentation are properly arranged, the next step involves the production of the recertification packet. After its approval, it will be mailed to the family and the family of the tenant and that of the landlord with a VCN (Voucher Change Notice). The notice will contain the dates when any change on the agreement becomes effective for any valid transactions regarding the rent share. It thus allows any further additional information to be delivered by hand or to be mailed through post office mail services so long as the NYCHA receives them. If NYCHA fails to receive the completed recertification package and additional documentation within the required period of return, that is more than two months from the receipt of the original Affidavit of Income package then a warning is sent notifying the applicant that the process may be terminated.

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Hypothesis Review

The process of acquisition of lease documents indicates that the preferred or the desirable occupants of the housing in New York City are high-class families since the asset declaration and the affidavit of income lock them out of their advantageous positions. A low-income family in New York City depends on the government subsidies in their acquisition of housing to secure their positions from the acute shortage of housing. To their detriment, most of the subsidized housing in the city is under poor living conditions and the pressures of market demand. The US Housing and Urban Development report that it accommodates at least 1.25 Million tenants on average at any time the public housing units from low-income families. According to the housing authorities, tenants merely pay a fraction of the rent costs and the living condition is in the process of upgrade, guaranteeing a brighter future with formal social control.


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