Residents of Pomonok Houses in Flushing last week criticized a new proposal by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to raise parking rates at all of the city's NYCHA-run complexes to make up for cuts in federal funding.
Currently, the New York City Housing Authority has two types of parking facilities: reserved parking, where spaces are assigned to a renter and the annual fee is $340 or $272 for handicapped individuals and seniors; and non-reserved parking, where renters can park anywhere and there are no assigned spots. The fee for that parking permit is $75, or $60 for the handicapped and seniors.
NYCHA is in the process of converting all of its non-reserved lots into reserved lots, forcing individuals who want to park on NYCHA property or in NYCHA-operated lots to pay the higher fee for a reserved spot. The conversion will become official once the parking spots can be re-painted with a number.
“This change was discussed as part of Plan NYCHA, released in December 2012,” said a spokesperson for NYCHA. “Rates for residents in the converted developments will match those in existing reserved parking developments and NYCHA will enforce new rules by ticketing by police and by towing. We will continue this conversion process until all our lots are reserved spaces.”
But residents at Pomonok Houses say they were caught off guard by the changes, which will take effect on May 1, and that it will make it nearly impossible for residents on fixed incomes to park their cars on NYCHA property.
“Raising the cost to park in public housing over 300 percent is a slap in the face to all," said Pomonok Residents Association president Monica Corbett. "These fee increases hurt all residents, especially our seniors and fixed-income population. And why was the residents association not even consulted?"
Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz sent a letter to NYCHA Chairman John Rhea urging him to reconsider the changes to the parking program. In the case of Pomonok, he said the change would force residents to look for parking on already-crowded city streets.
"Parking is already at a premium in the community, as Pomonok is bordered by Electchester Housing, a 2,500-unit cooperative with 5,500 residents, and Queens College with a total undergraduate enrollment of over 16,000 students,” wrote Simanowitz. “The idea that our city streets will be further choked with vehicles is simply unacceptable.”
Joining Pomonok residents in protesting the hikes was former assemblyman and City Council candidate Rory Lancman, who said the housing authority should be focused on making public housing more livable, not on ways to generate revenue on the backs of residents.
"NYCHA needs to focus on fixing it's many shortcomings, from backlogged repairs to inadequate security, and not gouging residents,” he said.