May 24, 2018

Great News and Not So Good News on Water and Sewer Rate Reform


Dozens of Bronx buildings that had applied for the $10 million Multifamily Water Assistance Program that was approved a year ago to provide a $250 per apartment for eligible buildings started to receive their rebate. This is great news and will help keep rents affordable and support building upgrades and improvements. The not so good news- The New York City Water Board is in the midst of its regular rate-setting process and has proposed a 2.36% increase in water and sewer rates.

UNHP, a long-time advocate for water and sewer rate reform issued a report on 2015 called Affordable Water for Affordable Housing as well as a follow-up report in 2017 calling for water and sewer rate reform and a discounted program for affordable housing. The cost of water continues to be a substantial portion of the operating costs for buildings currently providing affordable housing in New York City. Income and expense data for multi-family buildings from the New York City Rent Guidelines Board and a set of community-controlled, affordable housing properties in the Bronx show the disproportionate impact of the cost of water in affordable housing buildings. The report states that the Multi-family Water Assistance Program represents an important first step in addressing the issue in apartment buildings providing affordable housing.

UNHP is asking affordable housing advocates, owners and managers to celebrate the delivery of over $10M in credits through the Multi-family Assistance Program, thank the Water Board for the program, oppose the FY 2019 rate increases and seek additional credits for affordable housing in 2019. Representatives from UNHP will be testifying at the Bronx hearings on Tuesday, May 29th at 7 PM at Hostos College at the Savoy Building at 120 E. 149th Street. You can register for the hearing or submit written testimony by email at We will be testifying against the proposed increase and be calling for a doubling of the money for the Multifamily Water Assistance Program.

This is great news and while we are celebrating, we should use the rate hearings to say “Thanks”, but let’s increase the size of the budget to ensure that all the buildings that could be eligible receive the Multifamily Water Assistance Program rebate.