The neighborhood is deteriorating, the rents are increasing, the Maintenance backlog is growing, and the residents are mostly owner occupants. The Nstat team led a participatory budgeting process with residents. They asked them to submit ideas for improving the neighborhood. Ultimately, they developed a plan that will make the neighborhood a better place to live.
Rents are based on tenant incomes
The Public Housing Authority, which owns Castle Hill, sets the rents for the apartment buildings based on tenant incomes. Each tenant contributes a minimum of 30% of their adjusted income towards rent. In addition, renters are required to meet the income requirements for the rent assistance program, which is administered by the New York City Housing Authority.
Residents are primarily owner-occupants
The majority of Castlehill residents own a car, although there are several bus services serving the area. Residents are also served by the Sydney Metro Northwest, a new subway line that opened on 26 May 2019. This line will link Chatswood and Epping with Castle Hill, and is expected to extend to Bankstown by 2024.
The City’s housing authority has a number of programs and services for residents in the area, including a tenant association. The Housing Authority has invested over $25 million into the neighborhood in the past year. The changes include energy-saving lights and new boilers. In addition, the community has several other resources, including a local church.
Maintenance backlog has grown
The Bronx’s Castle Hill Houses, a large housing project with fourteen buildings and 5,100 residents, is facing a significant maintenance backlog. More than 11,000 work orders are currently pending, making the backlog one of the largest in the NYCHA system. The city is currently working to resolve the issue, and a pilot program has already been rolled out in select developments. However, there is still no timetable for expanding the program to Castle Hill.
In October, the maintenance backlog at the agency reached 584,000 requests, a quarter more than last year. This means that residents are facing an average of nine months before their property will be repaired.
In the early 1980s, the Castle Hill area was notorious for its abundant supply of crack cocaine and violence. Despite the decline in crime, the neighborhood’s social problems and high poverty rates remained. This caused a large number of people to leave the area, and it was not until the 1990s that the neighborhood began to improve. Today, the neighborhood has many newly built and renovated apartment buildings and rehabilitated homes. The city has made improvements to policing and statistics, which has helped the neighborhood bounce back.
According to NYCHA, the housing authority that oversees the Castle Hill Houses, a city-owned housing development, the city needs about $16.5 billion to repair and renovate its buildings and apartments. “There is no excuse for landlords and tenants to skip repairs and rent without caring,” says City Council Member Annabel Palma, who represents the area. Many tenants have complained about mold, leaking pipes, busted windows and poor infrastructure in their apartments.
Plans to expand program
New York City officials are planning to expand the Castle Hill housing program. Currently, more than a quarter of a million households are on the waiting list. During the past year, the backlog has increased by over 26 percent. The expansion is part of the city’s efforts to meet the growing needs of low-income residents.
The project has been approved by the Planning Board. However, the project’s size is significantly smaller than originally proposed, reducing the units to 123 from the original plan of 125. The project has received a condition of approval from the Planning Board that each unit must have two means of access. This change would also change the project from a garden-style development to a townhouse.