FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : RAD Landlords can ask HUD to deregulate public housing apartments

RAD Conversion Documents Reveal That A RAD Landlord Can Ask HUD To Deregulate A Per Centage. Of Public Housing Units If A Building Fails To Become Economically Viable, Threatening To Convert Public Housing To Market-Rate Apartments

The public demands a suspension of RAD conversions at NYCHA and call on Bill de Blasio to let the next mayor determine the future of public housing in New York City

(New York, NY, Nov. 24) — Legal agreements being used by the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio to convert 16 public housing developments owned and operated by the New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA”) as a bundle under HUD’s controversial scheme known as Rental Assistance Demonstration (“RAD”) give RAD Landlords the ability to ask the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development to deregulate formerly public housing apartment units into market-rate apartments should a RAD Landlord fail to make RAD-converted buildings economically viable, records reveal.

See Section 2(c)(v) of the Declaration : https://fightfornycha.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Declaration-of-Restrictive-Covenants-and-Use-Agreement-East-28th-Wise-Towers-D0998451-7xA5BED.docx.

Melanie Aucello, the resident association president at the NYCHA public housing development at 344 East 28th Street in Manhattan, has become a core member of the NYCHA preservation group, Fight For NYCHA. Her building is about to join 15 other public housing developments in a bundle conversion scheduled to be completed by 30 November.

In the past, RAD conversions have led to evictions. At the Ocean Bay Apartments in Far Rockaway, Queens, which Mayor de Blasio has described as his “model” for RAD, 80 households were evicted following RAD conversion. Those evictions stemmed from over 300 Housing Court actions filed by one RAD Landlord at Ocean Bay alone in the time following its RAD Conversion.

See https://citylimits.org/2019/08/14/nycha-evicitons-rad-oceanbay/.

“In the holiday season — and in the middle of a pandemic — I have to ask Mayor de Blasio, ‘Why would you put all of NYCHA residents at-risk for evictions ?’ We demand a stop to RAD,” said Aucello, adding that, “The process you and NYCHA have forced upon us is intentionally designed for the best interests of private sector landlords and their profit. It is unfair to saddle future generations and the next, incoming mayoral administration with the consequences of RAD. It is best left for the next mayor to save NYCHA, not you.”

The civil rights attorney, Michael Sussman, has sent Mayor de Blasio a letter raising important objections about the RAD legal agreements and the new Lease Agreement that public housing residents are being forced to sign.

See : https://fightfornycha.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/20201123_Second_Michael_Sussman_Letter_to_Mayor_Bill_de_Blasio_NYCHA_RAD_Conversions.pdf.

Amongst the issues Sussman has complained to Mayor de Blasio about the new Lease Agreement, include, but are not limited to :

  • There are numerous provisions that permit a RAD Landlord to passthrough costs to public housing residents, many of whom live on low- or fixed-incomes, including the cost of utilities (which are now paid for NYCHA), thus leading to an increase in effective rents ;
  • There is language that gives the RAD Landlord an out in respect of the provision of basic standards of habitability, which should be offensive to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, since Federal prosecutors first began their investigation into NYCHA in 2016 due widepsread violations of physical condition standards ;
  • RAD will eliminate the existence of tenant-based rental assistance vouchers (which are portable) and replace them with project-based rental assistance vouchers (which are not portable). This will make it complicated or nearly impossible for public housing residents to be able to find better or larger apartments, or better locations ; and
  • Tenants have fears that other provisions in the Lease Agreement will make it easier for RAD Landlords to evict residents.

“The ongoing RAD conversions have failed to produce tangible and significant gains for residents of public housing,” said Sussman, adding that, “The lease proposed for residents includes onerous provisions which are financially disadvantageous to existing tenants and give new management increased leverage over their lives. What is needed is a national commitment to supporting those tenants who qualify for public housing without sacrificing their existing status and rights.”

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein (D-74th District), who has sponsored legislation to make formal a legal procedure for the disposition of public housing assets, said, “I stand with tenants at 344 East 28th Street and tenants around New York City to oppose RAD and privatization of public housing ! We need a plan to protect those apartments for generations to come.”

The revelation that HUD can permit the deregulation of public housing apartments, in addition to the many problems note about the Lease Agreement, make RAD wholly unacceptable, say other members of the group, Fight For NYCHA.

# # #

#SDNY close the door on #NYCHA activists seeking last-resort help to stop unlawful #RAD conversions

The U.S. Attorney’s Office oversees the NYCHA Settlement Agreement that was supposed to save NYCHA — not sell it out.

Security guards at the U.S. Attorney’s Office turned away NYCHA activists who had showed up at their doorstep on Wednesday, denying them a requested meeting with Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss. The activists included Melanie Aucello, the president of the resident association of the NYCHA public housing apartment building at 344 East 28th Street in Manhattan.

Residents at NYCHA apartment buildings have been being pressured into signing leases with private sector landlords under a neoliberal Federal scheme known as Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD, that has been shown to lead to evictions and other civil rights violations. At one Kips Bay apartment building, where Ms. Aucello lives, the lease signings have been taking place without translated documents for some residents, who only speak foreign languages, and the residents have been denied the benefit of a full review of lease documents by their counsel, Manhattan Legal Services.

Speaking of RAD conversions, Ms. Aucello said, “We demand a moratorium.”

The exchange between the activists and security guards for the U.S. Attorney’s Office became heated at times. “Please don’t turn us away,” Ms. Aucello said. A member of Fight For NYCHA added, “We’ve been turned away and ignored by the Mayor, by Gale Brewer, by everybody. Even AOC threw us under the bus.”

One security guard provided blank complaint forms to Ms. Aucello. Ultimately, the security guards closed their door to the activists.

Is Acting U.S. Attorney Strauss a cold-hearted functionary ?

On Tuesday, the activists were interviewed by WBAI about a protest that took place at the Kips Bay apartment building on Monday. The Kips Bay apartment building is one of 16 apartment complexes that faces almost imminent RAD conversion. In total, Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) plans to put 60,000 public housing apartments into the RAD scheme, dealing a severe blow to the future of Section 9 public housing. So far, many so-called “progressive” groups have refused to express any criticism of Mayor de Blasio’s dangerous bid to end public housing as we know it.

President Trump can dismiss U.S. Attorneys without cause. But Trump has cause to fire Audrey Strauss for failing NYCHA public housing residents.

Audrey Strauss is a do-nothing “Acting” U.S. Attorney, and she is countenancing Bill de Blasio’s breach of the HUD Settlement Agreement with NYCHA.

Shortly after the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in New York City, the political gossip Web site POLITICO published a report, noting that the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) was in violation of the Settlement Agreement between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, and the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA (… “with the onset of the [C]oronavirus, [NYCHA] workers have stopped doing annual inspections of properties required by” HUD, and NYCHA “… is limiting lead inspections to the universe of properties already known to have both lead paint and children under six years of age. … That has thrown the [C]ity out of compliance with a [F]ederal [S]ettlement [A]greement.”).

That the de Blasio administration was able to within the first weeks of the confinement to breach the HUD Settlement Agreement with NYCHA means that he is delaying the addressing of one healthcare crisis (say, lead paint poisoning) for the potential of another (Coronavirus infection).

The breach of the HUD Settlement Agreement less than one year since it was inked should have enraged NYCHA residents, but the corrupt mayor has engaged in obfuscation by taking the public’s focus off of long-term healthcare endangerment to tenants caused by lead poisoning, and he has proposed, in its stead, the free delivery of meals, the purchase of inexpensive Android tablets, and the distribution of at least some air conditioning units for senior citizens living in public housing. That was enough of a give-away to distract, confuse, or buy-off some tenants and many NYCHA “preservation groups” into going alongst with the mayor’s grand prize game, thereby taking the heat off the mayor’s violation of the HUD Settlement Agreement.

Audrey Strauss should know better than to go alongst with this charade. Donald Trump put NYCHA front-and-centre at the RNC. If he really cares about NYCHA, then he should fire Audrey Strauss.

Audrey Strauss is an entitled former C-suite executive of a large mineral mining conglomerate. She has already made one turn through the revolving door between Government and Big Business, and now she heads the self-styled “most influential” U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Nation. With all the pretense that goes alongst with such a job, Audrey Strauss is clearly demonstrating how S.D.N.Y., as her office is sometimes known, engages in selective prosecution. The mayor has violated the Settlement Agreement for a case that Audrey Strauss’s predecessor called the most important on his office’s docket, and Audrey Strauss is signaling that there will be no consequence to Mayor de Blasio over his breach of the Settlement Agreement.

The violation of the Settlement Agreement puts the lives of public housing residents in danger. For such reckless abandon of the trust the public is supposed to vest in S.D.N.Y., Audrey Strauss must be removed from office.

R.S.V.P. to our Sleep-Out Protest

Sleep-out protest announced to highlight ongoing and continuing breach by the de Blasio administration of NYCHA-HUD Settlement Agreement

Join NYCHA tenants and activists, who are protesting Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey (the “Queen of Mean”) Strauss, who is countenancing the horrifying conditions at NYCHA. Even though Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) has breached the HUD Settlement Agreement, Audrey Strauss does nothing about it.

Well, not anymore.

We will be sleeping for one night outside of the do-nothing Acting U.S. Attorney’s office. During the night, we will plan how to participate in a #GeneralStrike. We hope our actions will compel Audrey Strauss to do the right thing and to force the mayor to begin depositing money with the U.S. District Court that will begin to pay for long-over due repairs at NYCHA, beginning with a plan to upgrade all heat this winter.

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara began the Federal investigation in NYCHA to bring about justice for public housing residents. And here comes along Audrey Strauss, and she’s willing to let Preet Bharara’s work lapse under more neglect. This represents a breach of public trust.

For our protest, not everybody needs to sleep outside with us. Anybody can join us for a meeting beginning that evening at 6 pm.

For those willing to spend the night with us outside, please bring a sleeping bag, some toiletries, and whatever food or water you may need.

Join us for a planning meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 9, so we can prepare for our sleep-out protest.

R.S.V.P. to our Sleep-out Protest

Fight For NYCHA’s protest march accuses LGBTQ electeds of pinkwashing racism and austerity

LGBTQ politicians came to power based on their experience of discrimination, but they have done nothing to end discrimination for all oppressed people.

Austerity leads to racism

There is a convergence in the betrayal of public housing with the Coronavirus pandemic. Hospital closings led to disparities in healthcare outcomes, as we have seen during the Coronavirus outbreak. The refrigerator trucks are a sign that austerity leads to racism. Now, NYCHA residents are being used as guinea pigs for testing and contact tracing in order for politicians to dangerously fast-track the reopening of the economy.

Fight For NYCHA targeting some politicians, who claim to experience oppression, but who have done nothing to end racism or austerity. We visited the apartment houses of : Christine Quinn, Corey Johnson, Deborah Glick, and Brad Hoylman — each of whom had a role in the closing and luxury condo conversion of the old St. Vincent’s Hospital. They thought nothing of taking away a safety net hospital from us, and they have done nothing to fight austerity or racism, as evidenced by how public housing has been neglected on their watch — and in their own district.

Contact Tracing poses risks to NYCHA tenants. Fight For NYCHA demands HRA Rent Vouchers for All.

The political and media fallout : “Willful ignorance,” silence, and distraction

Quinn, Johnson, and Glick chose to ignore our protest, with Quinn’s doorman videotaping our protest outside her million-dollar luxury condo. Quinn gets paid $500,000 a year as the ringleader of a poverty nonprofit that skims money off of homeless shelters. A kind of a new age, “transformational” Madame Thénardier.

For his part, Hoylman addressed Albany red tape on hospital closes but refused to address the pinkwashing by the LGBTQ White CIS power establishment of racism. But we made him nervous, and he took to Twitter that very same night and, for the first time in his career, tweeted the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.

Pinkwashing means that the LGBTQ politicians in Chelsea and the West Village have exploited their experience of discrimination for political power without uplifting POC.

Recommended Reading

Join us on May 30 for a March Against Racism and Austerity from Chelsea to Greenwich Village

Poverty is barbarity !

Our march route has been finalised !

We are visiting the apartment houses of politicians, who had a role in the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital, a situation that has wrecked the healthcare outcomes of low-income communities and POC. We are demanding that politicians stop #PinkWashing racism and austerity ! Join us as we protest :

  • Christine Quinn, former City Council Speaker ;
  • Corey Johnson, current City Council Speaker ;
  • Deborah Glick, Assemblymember ; and
  • Brad Hoylman, State Senator.

They enabled gentrification of New York City and never championed the full-funding of NYCHA. These politicians claim to know oppression. But what have they done to end racism and austerity ?

None of these politicians said one word to stand up against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s dangerous scheme to sell-out NYCHA to RAD landlords. It’s time that politicians, who claim that they are allies of POC, start acting as allies.

Please join us :

When : Sat., May 30, at 1 pm
Where : Meet at 9th Ave. and West 27th Street
RSVP : March Against Racism and Austerity [Facebook]

Stop ”pinkwashing” racism and austerity !

An LGBTQ activist is taking the lead in the planning of this protest march, so this is not an attack on identity, but, rather, criticism on how politicians have used the experience of oppression for personal political gain — only to countenance the oppression of others.

Watch our Facebook Live

Please start watching at about 5 minutes in, due to technical issues.

NYU student newspaper publishes editorial critical of RAD, finding that the privatisation of public housing has been “proven to be a disaster for tenants in other states”

“NYCHA residents continue to be put in dangerous conditions.”

“As the city tries to put public housing in the hands of private landlords, the actual tenants amount to no more than an afterthought, even as they are being forced into unsafe conditions.”

NYU student newspaper published a courageous editorial by Asha Ramachandran in which she expressed criticism of RAD, finding that the privatisation of public housing has been “proven to be a disaster for tenants in other states.” Even though New York City faces a housing crisis, “only 3.7% of New York City’s $95 billion budget is allotted for housing.”

Excerpt :

What NYCHA desperately needs is billions of dollars in funding in the state budget specifically devoted to fixing public housing units and giving residents the protections that are long overdue. Organizations like Fight For NYCHA and The Legal Aid Society have organized and represented NYCHA tenants in court and enlisted city council members, and have held demonstrations and town halls trying to achieve this.

Recommended Reading

VIDEO : Harlem public housing residents forced to use fire hydrant after water main break left thousands of NYCHA residents without water

NYCHA officials set up a water station connected to fire hydrants, so Harlem residents could collect water to flush their toilets.

New York City Housing Authority officials blamed a water main break in East Harlem for a water outage that left approx. 3,000 Taft Houses public housing residents without water service, beginning on Sunday, and reportedly continuing into Tuesday morning.

The water outage forced Harlem residents to use one of two reported water stations connected to fire hydrants for water that had to be carried back to their apartments to use to flush their indoor plumbing. Video showed tenants using water jugs, pans, and bag-lined push carts as make shift containers to transport water indoors.

An inspection conducted by a member of Fight For NYCHA NYCHA on Tuesday morning did not reveal any streets flooded out or collapsed by a water main break. However, across the street from 1694 Madison Ave., the site of one such water station set-up, was a construction site, where a new luxury apartment building was going up. It is not known if any private landlords requested a shutting of water main service in order to connect that building to the area’s water main.

Daily News publishes editorial by Fight For NYCHA member

The caption to this photograph in the New York Daily News called Mayor Bill de Blasio a “Sellout” on NYCHA.

Bill de Blasio : Sellout on NYCHA ?
Bill de Blasio was called a "Sellout" on NYCHA by the Editorial Page of the New York Daily News.

RAD is a raw deal for NYCHA that we must refuse

The New York Daily News published a guest editorial by a Fight For NYCHA member, making a strong case why New Yorkers must reject plans by Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) to expand on his use of HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration programme that will put public housing into a nightmarish “public-private partnership.”

The editorial was notable for exposing the dangers of RAD, for revealing that U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman put NYCHA residents at risk for losing Federal monitorship once their public housing apartment complexes undergo RAD conversion, and the need to stop RAD so that other leaders, such as U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY 07), can fight for the full-funding of NYCHA.

Recommended Reading

Brad Hoylman, enemy of the people, was improbably the “front face” of the NYCHA protest up in Albany

Brad Hoylman was up in Albany, with public housing residents as a backdrop, so he could say he was not in New York City for the public housing bloodbath.

Yesterday, the seemingly “front face” of the NYCHA protesters, who were bused up to Albany by a syndicate of nonprofit groups, was none other than State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Chelsea), the former General Counsel to the Partnership for New York City, itself a syndicate of corporate interests, which rivals the Real Estate Board of New York in subverting Government for big money donors in New York.

State Sen. Hoylman has been deceiving tenants into believing he’s on their side, when in reality he has never stopped working for the corrupt interests of Big Business. Last year, he folded all support for the pied-à-terre tax on non-primary residences with a market value of $5 million or more as soon as, you guessed it, REBNY’s lobbyists began to mount serious pressure against the tax. State Sen. Hoylman will never stand up to Big Business.

This year, Big Business interests are pressuring Mayor Bill de Blasio to end public housing as we know it, including in State Sen. Hoylman’s own district. And State Sen. Hoylman has not once denounced the mayor or the mayor’s plans. Like last year, Fight For NYCHA reasonably expect State Sen. Hoylman to put on a big show about how much he supports public causes, and then he will fold at the very last minute, like he always does.

This is a repeat of 2010, when State Sen. Hoylman, at that time then as chair of Manhattan Community Board 2, claimed that he supported saving St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village, but then turned his back on the community when Partnership for New York City director (at that time then) Willaim Rudin began to call in mortgage notes from the public charity hospital, setting off a chain of events that led to the hospital’s bankruptcy and liquidation at pennies on the dollar.

Is it no coïncidence that, finally, on the same day when Mayor Bill de Blasio moves word of his rapid expansion of RAD conversions in Brooklyn and Manhattan, it would take place as State Sen. Hoylman was leading this charade up in Albany ?

It’s like that famous scene in the Godfather (1972) movie, when the main character Michael Corleone attended the baptism of Connie’s baby. As Michael was being made the godfather of the baby in a church service, his henchmen carried out assassinations so Corleone could seize power. Up in Albany, there was State Sen. Hoylman at the metaphorical alter. Meanwhilst, down in New York City, Mayor de Blasio, who, as REBNY’s henchman, was earnestly carrying out the hits on public housing.