May 24, 2015

UNHP Proposes Affordable Housing Cap on Water Rates


​UNHP released today its’ report Affordable Water for Affordable Housing calling for an Affordable Housing Cap on water rates for buildings with regulatory agreements including affordability requirements. The report documents the disparate impact of rising water rates on affordable housing. The graph below illustrates the increased impact of water costs in the Bronx and in community controlled affordable buildings.

Looking at a sample of community controlled affordable housing buildings in the West Bronx, the percentage of the annual buildings’ expense budget paid for water and sewer charges was 13.02%. At the same time, according to Rent Guidelines Board data, multifamily buildings in the Bronx and Core Manhattan were paying 10.9% and 4.6% of their expense budgets for water.

The study proposes an Affordable Housing Cap of $688 per apartment per year as long as the building has or enters a regulatory agreement around affordability, follows the conservation requirements of the already existing Multifamily Conservation Program, and implements a water conservation awareness program for tenants and building staff.

The de Blasio administration has shown a greater understanding of the impact of the cost of water on ratepayers than the previous administration.  The 3.24% proposed increase is the lowest increase in 10 years.  However, the steady increases over the years has had a major impact on affordable multifamily housing that is frequently composed of larger apartments with larger households.

The impact of rising water and sewer rates is substantial when the cost of water, as a percentage of operating expense, is examined. The Bronx has the highest percentage of costs on the water and sewer expense line.

UNHP will present the Housing Cap proposal at the New York City Water Board public hearing in the Bronx tonight at Hostos Community College’s Savoy Building at 120 E. 149th Street at 7PM.  The Water Board is seeking public comment on the current proposal to raise water and sewer charges by 3.24%;  with the new increase, water charges in many affordable housing buildings that are in the Multifamily Conservation Program  will be $1,007 per apartment per year.

UNHP will be there to support affordable water for affordable housing. This link will point you to the Water Board’s proposals and the time and location of the borough hearings this week. Join us!

Our April 29th, 2015 Affordable Water for Affordable Housing report is UNHP’s second report on this topic. Our 2008 Water and Sewer Rate Reform Summit & Report covered the history and method of rate settling in NYC, a discernment of DEP capital costs, analysis of DEP governance, an exploration of green methods for water reuse and conservation, and information on the impact of rate increases on low income homeowners and affordable multifamily rental housing.

Support for the research and publishing of the 2015 Affordable Water for Affordable Housing report was generously provided by Citi.