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NYCHA parking fees up 400%

STEPHON JOHNSON Special to the AmNews | 6/20/2013, 11:06 a.m.
Some might have to wonder if the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) realizes that...
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Some might have to wonder if the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) realizes that their constituents are low-income New Yorkers. First, there is the proposal to lease public housing land for luxury condos and now a hastily announced increase in annual parking permits.

On March 14, five weeks before the policy went into effect, NYCHA sent a letter to its residents indicating a 400 percent increase in rates for parking spots at 43 different public housing parking lots around the city. Rates for housing residents jumped from $75 to $340 per year. The hikes also include an increase in the annual rate for senior and handicapped parking, from $60 to $272 per year.

For non-NYCHA residents who pay for parking spots, the rates increased from $150 to $650 a year. If residents can't afford to pay for spots, it frees up open spots for non-residents. Several developments adopting the new parking permits are near high-traffic areas like Coney Island and Central Park.

In the letter, Adam Choucri, the deputy director of NYCHA's Accounting and Fiscal Services Department, said that a new partnership between NYCHA and the Greystone Company, a private contractor, called for permitted and reserved parking spots in some lots. Vehicles either without permits or undergoing repair work can now be towed.

And residents won't get any reprieve from NYCHA either. The agency doesn't allow its residents to space out the fee over several payments, and they aren't able to use a credit or debit card to pay the fee. The one lump sum fee is due on May 1.

During a news conference at Pomonok Houses in Flushing, Queens, City Council candidate and former Assemblyman Rory Lancman joined Pomonok residents in denouncing the new policy, calling it unfair and wondering where residents would park their vehicles if they can't afford the permits.

"NYCHA's massive parking fee hike is unfair enough, but springing it on residents with next to no notice and requiring payment in full up-front really adds insult to injury," said Lancman. "NYCHA needs to focus on fixing its many shortcomings, from backlogged repairs to inadequate security, and not gouging residents."

Flushing-based Assemblyman Mike Simanowitz isn't a fan of the NYCHA's new policy either. In an open letter to NYCHA Chairman John Rhea, Simanowitz worried about the increase in cars around housing developments leading to clogged streets and backed up traffic.

"This will force people to look for parking on the public streets outside of the development," he wrote in the letter. "The idea that our city streets will be further choked with vehicles is simply unacceptable."