Is Majority Leader Charles Schumer going to betray the New Deal promise of public housing ?
Members of Fight For NYCHA were present at the 18 April press conference, where Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) promised to put $80 billion in funding for public housing into the President’s Infrastructure Bill. Sen. Schumer said that the initial proposal of $40 billion that President Joseph Biden (D) had suggested was too low and that the increase would allow NYCHA to receive the $40 billion it needed to complete the backlog of capital repairs that have been used as an excuse by Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) to sell-out NYCHA with RAD/PACT, infill development, and air rights sales.
However, after President Biden gave the keys to the Kingdom to Senate Republicans, they succeeded in watering-down the Infrastructure Bill, leaving no money for public housing. None ! That meant that, as of 24 June, once the GOP compromise was detailed by the White House, Sen. Schumer’s first lie was exposed.
We need the $40 billion that is owed to the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, for capital repair funding in order to stop the privatization of public housing. We need to save Section 9 housing.
Even though President Biden closed the door on the Infrastructure Bill negotiations, Sen. Schumer has continued to advocate for $80 billion for public housing in “infrastructure” spending, including at a 23 July photo-op at the Oceanside Houses in Far Rockaway, Queens. But the Infrastructure Bill was already closed to negotiations. What Sen. Schumer not being honest with us ?
There is a corrupt bait and switch going on, and public housing residents will pay for it in higher rents, threats of evictions, and violations of their civil rights.
Since there’s been no money for public housing, unscrupulous politicians, like Mayor de Blasio, are using Section 8 conversions under RAD/PACT and the proposed Blueprint scheme to end Section 9 housing. This effectively ends the New Deal promise of public housing, which was for the Government to admit that it had a role in providing safe and sanitary housing to people at low-cost. What is happening now is that corrupt politicians are using the Section 8 rental assistance voucher programme to replace Section 9, something that was never intended to occur when Section 8 vouchers were first created.
The RAD/PACT scheme that Mayor de Blasio has been promoting leads to higher rents, higher risks of evictions, and violations of tenants’ civil rights. It’s a bad deal that tenants need to reject, and Sen. Schumer knows that.
Now, Sen. Schumer is promising us the public housing funding in the Budget Reconciliation, but that comes with strings attached, like we can’t demand forensic audits of public housing authorities, and we can’t repeal the Faircloth Amendment that caps the construction of new public housing. We’re scared that politicians will use these limitations to either accelerate Section 8 conversions, or do something worse, like end all Section 9 housing in one fell swoop.
Because Sen. Schumer’s office has begun to use parliamentary rules that stem from the filibuster to qualify that public housing funding can’t come with greater tenant protections, this puts public housing residents at-risk for bad leases, increased costs, and evictions. As a result, we increasingly feel that H.R.235 — the bill to fully-fund public housing — should be passed as a standalone bill after it has been increased to guarantee $40 billion to NYCHA to save Section 9 housing and amended to include forensic audit requirements, a repeal of the Faircloth Amendment, education and jobs programs for public housing residents, a repeal of Section 8 conversion schemes, including RAD/PACT, and a provision that any disposition of public housing assets be subjected to the local community approval process that is in effect in each Municipal jurisdiction. This would stop the privatization of public housing.
Since Sen. Schumer doesn’t inspire confidence, we have begun to flyer about these truths, because we are tired of Sen. Schumer coming up short. If he doesn’t pass H.R. 235 as a standalone bill in a way that does not permit Section 8 vouchers to replace Section 9 housing, we will begin to work with anyone, even the DSA, to see that Sen. Schumer is primaried in the 2022 Midterms. As much as we distrust the DSA, we know that they are focused only on self-interest, as is AOC. They only think of opportunism, self-promotion, and expediency. “Power can be beautiful,” AOC said to CNN for her new 2022 Midterms fundraising infomercial, in which she herself doesn’t rule out a primary challenge to Sen. Schumer. That’s a mighty powerful convergence of forces that Sen. Schumer would have to overcome.
New York has become a battleground for a new Democratic Party, where Christine Quinn, Joseph Crowley, Eliot Engel, Corey Johnson, and Jimmy Van Bramer have seen their political careers come to an end after people reached their limits with being sold out. Now, Sen. Schumer gets to decide if he faces the same prospect.