The New York City Housing Authority has announced a public-private partnership initiative to build housing on its underused land.

Chairman John Rhea, speaking at a breakfast forum on Monday sponsored by the Association for a Better New York, said the authority will issue a request for proposals in early 2013 seeking development on these sites.

According to Rhea, the new initiative will offer authority-owned sites for the development of market-rate and affordable housing, and in some cases, ground-floor commercial and retail development. The agency said it will not demolish buildings or replace any residents.

“We are going to leverage one of our most valuable assets: our land,” said Rhea. “Many NYCHA properties are underbuilt. We have room to grow. And as we all know, demand for housing in this city could not be stronger.”

Rhea, a former managing director in the investment banking division of Barclays Capital, also announced a proposal to tap $500 million from a capital fund bond issued under the federal Housing and Urban Development’s capital fund financing program to pay for roof and brickwork repairs to 350 buildings in more than 40 developments across the city’s five boroughs over the next one to three years.

The funds, he said, would be available by the first quarter of next year.

Under a third initiative, the agency would perform energy audits on many of its buildings over 18 months. Rhea estimates that even a 10% reduction in the half-billion dollars it spends yearly on energy would support $50 million in annual debt service. Through savings, he said, the agency could finance $2 billion in upgrades for boilers, roofs and windows.

Monday’s announcement came one month after the New York Daily News reported that the agency was sitting on $1 billion in federal cash earmarked for security and repairs, and a Boston Consulting Group study cited “significant challenges, many of which are mutually reinforcing.”

Problems, according to the report, included underfunded capital needs.

“NYCHA faces a vicious cycle in which underfunded capital improvements drive higher unmet demands, cause increasing structural deficits and maintenance/repair needs,” the report said.

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