Fight For NYCHA filed amicus curiae application in Baez class action mold case

Civil rights attorney Michael Sussman, applied to U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley III to accept Fight For NYCHA as amicus curiae in the Baez class action mold case.

After Plaintiffs in the Baez class action mold abatement case learned that the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, planned on using the disposition of public housing under the controversial programmes as an excuse to abandon NYCHA’s obligations to provide habitable living conditions to residents, issues about the controversial conversion programmes, known as Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD, and Permanent Affordability Commitment Together, or PACT, came to the fore in the class action case.

However, the Parties to the case, as will as their counsel, were unable to answer many questions before U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley III during Oral Arguments over a motion filed by the Baez Plaintiffs to compel the application of the Revised Consent Decree in that case on public housing developments that NYCHA had converted under RAD/PACT. The motion papers also referenced the RAD/PACT conversion of the Manhattan Bundle, which included the public housing development located at 344 East 28th Street in Kips Bay, Manhattan. Plaintiffs’ and Defendant’s counsel attempted to speak to issues of RAD/PACT conversion, but the source of Federal rental assistance was not a selection factor in the Court’s certification of the class of residents represented by Plaintiffs’ counsel. Some members of Fight For NYCHA resident at 344 East 28th Street, and they were in the best position to offer critical information for the Court, but their interests were not properly represented during the motion practise before the Court, particularly since at least one member of Fight For NYCHA was a third party beneficiary of the Revised Consent Decree in Baez, which Defendant NYCHA was attempting to deny residents of RAD/PACT-converted housing.

The lack of adequate counsel to properly represent the interests of public housing residents following RAD/PACT conversions placed public housing residents in jeopardy, and that required the intervention of members of Fight For NYCHA, who were solely able to answer the Court’s questions about RAD/PACT. As a result, civil rights attorney Michael Sussman sought leave from the Court to submit a letter, providing information, answering questions that were before the Court, and promising further assistance with the Court’s permission.

The Parties in Baez complied with the Scheduling Order set by the Court to complete the submission of motion papers, and Fight For NYCHA’s letter, informally referred to as an amicus curiae, was submitted to the Court. The Parties await a decision by Judge Pauley III on Plaintiffs’ motion.

The amicus curiae was also seen as a required move by members of Fight For NYCHA, since many other groups which purport to be “NYCHA preservation groups,” like Movement School, refuse to challenge the privatisation of public housing by Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC). That refusal has misled public housing residents into believing that Elected Officials are on their side. This disinformation has permitted politicians, like U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY 14), who permits organising for Movement School out of her office like a nonprofit political arm, to exploit public housing residents out of political expediency. The political deception has been made worse by the attempts of some unscrupulous groups, like Justice For All Coälition, to offer low-impact methods, such as petitions, as viable forms of activism to save public housing, despite the urgency revealed in the Baez case, where facts were submitted to the Court that the de Blasio administration was acting to end all Section 9 public housing “soon” with dire implications for public housing residents.

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NYCHA Mayoral Forum

NYCHA Mayoral Forum hosted by Fight For NYCHA (25 Jan 2021)

Despite our invitation reaching dozens of the 2021 mayoral candidates, only Aaron Foldenauer ; Isaac Wright, Jr. ; and Joycelyn Taylor appeared.

The mayoral forum was hosted by Melanie Aucello, president of the resident association of 344 East 28th Street, which has undergone RAD/PACT conversion. The forum was co-hosted by Louis Flores and Diane de Jesus. Aucello, Flores, and de Jesus are core members of the activist group, Fight For NYCHA.

NYCHA Mayoral Forum hosted by Fight For NYCHA (25 Jan 2021)

Reference Document

Fight For NYCHA are maintaining a public spreadsheet of the 2021 mayoral candidates’ positions in relation to NYCHA, RAD/PACT, the Blueprint, and other issues.

Protest on 34th Street, hoping for a miracle this Holiday Season to stop RAD conversions of NYCHA public housing

Banner protest in front of Macy’s Herald Square flagship store

Activists trying to save public housing from privatisation protested in front of Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square in Manhattan on Sunday afternoon. Using a bullhorn, the activists announced that Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) was planning on ending public housing as we know it. One of the activists speaking was a resident of a public housing apartment building, which faced privatisation on 30 November 2020, when her building would join 15 other complexes in a privatisation scheme known as Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD. The activists described some of the dangers and risks of eviction, rent hikes, and other forms of civil rights violations typical of privatisation schemes. One previously unknown risk includes the ability of a RAD Landlord to petition the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to deregulate public housing apartments, should apartment buildings not generate enough profits for greedy, private-sector landlords, as was revealed in a press release issued the Fight For NYCHA.

Protesting to save public housing

Protesters demonstrated in front of Macy's flagship store on 34th Street-Herald Square in Manhattan to stop the privatisation of NYCHA public housing by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

#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.

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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.

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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.

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