Spreadsheet shows New York City mayoral candidates’ positions on NYCHA public housing and RAD/PACT controversy

Fight For NYCHA is publishing internal notes about the 2021 New York City mayoral candidates to inform the public about important issues affecting public housing residents.

Fight for NYCHA is again sharing a spreadsheet that originated from our Mayoral Forum held on 25 Jan 2021. Only three, courageous candidates showed up for our Mayoral Forum : Aaron Foldenauer, Joycelyn Taylor, and Isaac Wright, Jr. Fight For NYCHA took notes and updated the spreadsheet for this re-release. Fight For NYCHA does not make political endorsements. As a result, we will not be providing any ranked-choice list of the 2021 New York City mayoral candidates. We offer this commentary only as a summary of the notes reflected on our spreadsheet.

The best

Joycelyn Taylor. During our January Zoom forum, Ms. Taylor was the most affirming of the need to save public housing. She firmly opposed RAD/PACT conversions, which allow private landlords to take over the management of public housing. She also firmly opposed the Blueprint plan to convert all remaining Section 9 housing into Section 8 that rely on the use of tenant protection vouchers (that were later discredited by U.S. District Court Judge Wm. Pauley III). She has also called for a form of “condo conversion” of public housing to those, who could afford it, but she did not offer a plan to fund all outstanding capital repairs. Subsequently, she has separately expressed support for H.R. 235, a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY 07) that would fully-fund the backlog of capital repairs in the entire Nation’s public housing stock. Finally, Ms. Taylor has said she believes that NYCHA should offer a form of resident management. Because Ms. Taylor once lived in the Pink Houses, she has a lived, felt experience with public housing. Those sensibilities do inform the contours of her policy proposals. For those reasons and more, she deserves more support and attention than she has been receiving.

The worst

Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, and Kathryn Garcia. These three candidates have been lumped together by the media for their support for RAD/PACT (even if it was qualified), and for their support for infill development of open, green, and playground spaces.

Mr. Adams is the most controversial of the three, not least of which is due to his support of the sale of unused air rights over public housing. In the past, he has attacked affordable housing built for LGBTQ seniors, and he’s expressed intolerant comments about Herman Badillo‘s wife. But his refusal to acknowledge the racial disparities created by Government policies he’s supported during his career disqualifies him from any further public service, particularly his support for more policing, despite the NYPD’s record on homicides, human rights abuses, police brutality, and Constitutional and civil rights violations. He’s not qualified to serve as mayor.

Mr. Donovan helped to roll-out RAD as a cabinet member of the Obama administration, and his role in selling-out public housing immediately disqualifies him as mayor.

As for Ms. Garcia, she has been shown taking RAD/PACT on a road show, falsely marketing “tenant protection vouchers” as a way to promote the disposition of strategic public assets. What is more, Ms. Garcia was never publicly considered for the position of permanent CEO of NYCHA by then U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman. It’s believed that the U.S. Attorney’s Office had no faith in her ability to turn the troubled public housing authority around. Because of her support for RAD/PACT, Ms. Garcia deserves no support.

The rest

Ray McGuire. A wolf in sheep’s clothing, Mr. McGuire is the most overt Wall Street candidate, intending to oversee regressive social and economic policies. His campaign offers nothing for public housing residents.

Dianne Morales. Ms. Morales took a very long time to oppose RAD/PACT, but her choice of wording is problematic, because it indicates opportunistic posturing. For example, she has said she would like to keep public housing public. But she has done nothing to stand-up to the long march by Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) to continue the RAD/PACT sell-out of public housing. Leadership means speaking truth to power, and Ms. Morales is falling short of demonstrating the kind of bold leadership this time requires.

Scott Stringer. Mr. Stringer has seen his campaign implode due to sexual misconduct allegations. Prior to that, he was known as an opportunistic, unprincipled career politician. At Fulton Houses, he participated in and lent credibility to the sham Mayor’s NYCHA Working Group that manufactured tenant support for the RAD/PACT conversion of Fulton Houses, Chelsea Houses, Chelsea Annex, and Elliott Houses. Because we eventually expect Mr. Stringer to quit the campaign, public housing residents are certainly better served by focusing on other candidates.

Maya Wiley. Ms. Wiley was notoriously loyal to Mayor de Blasio. The zenith of this loyalty was observed when Ms. Wiley was credited with fabricating an “Agents of the City” exemption to the State’s open records laws. Her failure to hold the NYPD accountable as head of the civilian oversight board is equally disqualifying. And her meager proposal to only set aside $2 billion for public housing amounts to a continuation of racist divestment of NYCHA. This is a time to boldly confront racial disparities created by failed Government policy, and Ms. Wiley fails to live up to the standard required of our times.

Andrew Yang. Mr. Yang keeps generating controversies with his dog and pony show of a mayoral campaign. But his disconnect from the realities faced by public housing residents and people earning fixed- or low-incomes is what stands out. He’s proposed a meager universal basic income (“UBI”) that would be financed by welfare reforms that include eliminating housing vouchers, according to a review of his economic policies published by the New York Times. Nobody living in NYCHA can afford the draconian cuts to the social safety net being envisioned by Mr. Yang. He’s also refused to directly oppose the RAD/PACT sell-out of NYCHA and has, instead, adopted the neoliberal “greenwashing” of public housing made chic by the new crop of liberals, such as U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY 14). This bait-and-switch is irresponsible. Mr. Yang’s failed mayoral campaign deserves to be in the history books — as a footnote to his failed presidential campaign.