Harvard economist Edward Glaeser has a Bloomberg View column observing that it is "somewhat bizarre" that the government is devoting choice Manhattan real estate to use as parking lots for residents of public housing projects, who pay no more than $45 a month for spots. It can cost that much to park for a day in a private lot in Manhattan.
Professor Glaeser gets a bit squishy when it comes to fixing the problem: "taking this benefit away from the most vulnerable city residents would seem to single them out and amount to expropriation.... Let them give their parking spaces back to the city in exchange for cash. The city can rent the space at full market rates to whoever will pay, and give the net proceeds back to the resident. The resident who takes the deal will be better off. ... When public-housing parking spaces fall empty, they should be rented at market rates, and the earnings should be shared among the projects' residents or spent on common amenities."
It seems to me that the "most vulnerable" city residents aren't the ones enjoying the below-market-rate parking spots while living in below-market-rate government-supplied housing, but rather the taxpayers paying full market rates for their housing and parking while being socked with high taxes to subsidize the public housing and its parking lots. As for the idea that the public housing residents should be entitled to cash, either in a lump sum payment or in some kind of annuity, from the parking spaces, that's absurd. The residents don't own the spots, the government does. The public housing residents have no more right to recognize income from the parking spaces than I do from renting out the free parking space that my car is currently occupying on the street.