Residents of the Pomonok Houses in Flushing were joined by former Assemblyman and City Council candidate Rory Lancman in decrying what they described as a sudden and unfair increase in parking charges by the New York City Housing Authority that may leave many public housing inhabitants scouring the streets for parking.
Pomonok Residents Association President Monica Corbett discovered the price increase accidentally, while seeking information regarding another matter.
The hikes include an increase in the annual rate for senior and handicapped parking spots, from $60 to $272 annually. Rates for regular residents will also jump from $75 to $340. The rate for non-NYCHA residents who pay for a parking spot also increased, from $150 to $650 a year.
“It’s price gouging,” Corbett said flatly. “It’s crazy to ask a low-income housing development to pay these rates.”
The changes took effect in February, and come with the promise of upgrades to NYCHA’s parking system.
According to a letter to residents from Adam Choucri, the deputy director of NYCHA’s Accounting and Fiscal Services Department, a new partnership between the agency and private contractor The Greystone Co. will now call for permitted and reserved parking spots in some lots.
NYCHA has also repainted spacing lines and numbers and instituted a new system that fines and tows cars without permits or any vehicle undergoing repair work while in a parking lot. The changes apply to 43 parking lots across the city.
Setting aside the complaints that come with any price increase, Corbett and Lancman said the Housing Authority has given residents dependent on fixed incomes virtually no time to gather up the funds necessary to cover the price increase.
The agency didn’t notify residents formally until March 14, giving them a little over five weeks to cover a 400 percent increase in cost. NYCHA does not allow residents to space the fee out over several payments, nor does it let them use a credit or debit card.
“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,” Lancman said. “NYCHA needs to focus on fixing it’s many shortcomings, from backlogged repairs to inadequate security, and not gouging residents.”
Pomonok is situated in the heart of a densely populated area, with Electchester Housing, a 2,500 unit co-op right next door, as well as Queens College’s platoon of 16,000 students across the street.
Lancman said it’s common for residents to compete with students and their neighbors for parking. The prospect of an increased number of residents circling the blocks and looking for parking has Assemblyman Mike Simanowitz (D-Flushing) worried about clogged streets.
“This will force people to look for parking on the public streets outside of the development,” he wrote in an open letter to NYCHA Chairman John Rhea. “The idea that our city streets will be further choked with vehicles is simply unacceptable.”