Sen. Schumer teams up with U.S. Rep. Velázquez to renew the New Deal promise of public housing

At a press conference Sunday, Majority Leader Charles Schumer and U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez proposed to more than double President Biden’s funding of public housing.

“For too long, public housing has been neglected, left to get worse, and we’re not going to stand for it anymore,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said during a press conference, announcing a more than doubling of proposed infrastructure spending directed towards the Nation’s public housing stock. The remarks, according to a report broadcast by the WCBS 880 AM Radio station, included a promise that, of the newly proposed funding that was estimated to be in excess of $80 billion, at least half of that would be earmarked for New York — “enough to eliminate the estimated repair backlog for the New York City Housing Authority.”

Fight For NYCHA was on-hand for the press conference. In prepared remarks published by Fight For NYCHA, the group recognised Sen. Schumer and U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY 07).  “Fight For NYCHA are very grateful to Leader Schumer for bringing us together to acknowledge the important role that public housing plays in our society. We must save Section 9 housing as it exists,” adding that, “As we embark on a new progressive era, Leader Schumer and Rep. Velázquez are showing leadership by renewing the New Deal promise of public housing.” Special thanks were given to Fight For NYCHA’s lawyers, Michael Sussman and Thomas Hillgardner. Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was thanked for launching the Federal investigation into the physical condition standards of NYCHA, which renewed urgency to repair public housing. Finally, U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley III was thanked for the years he has spent overseeing NYCHA, attempting to keep the troubled public housing authority honest with its residents.

Resident leaders, including Claudia Perez and Melanie Aucello, called for an end to the use of RAD/PACT to finance public housing authorities.

Last week, Judge Pauley III ruled that the de Blasio administration was permitted to erode the protections of public housing residents, who received tenant protection vouchers following their conversion to RAD/PACT private sector landlords. The ruling revealed that, contrary to what Mayor de Blasio had been promising, tenants’ rights were not protected after RAD/PACT conversion, and that the use of the term tenant protection vouchers amounted to a mere Orwellian name to bamboozle public housing residents into accepting a scheme that facilitated the privatisation of strategic public housing assets.

Notes

  • The photograph of the press conference was first published by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and was shared here under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright laws.

EDITORIAL : We’re Not Getting the Truth About NYCHA

“So many untruths have been spread by NYCHA and the mayor.”

Melanie Aucello, the president of the resident association at a public housing apartment building in Kips Bay, Manhattan, has published an editorial about her experience with Rental Assistance Demonstration (“RAD”) and Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (“PACT”).

It’s not a pretty picture.

RAD/PACT is a raw deal public housing residents can’t afford.

“Despite all the promises that RAD/PACT would be good for tenants, NYCHA forced on us new restrictive leases that had easier triggers for evictions and financial penalties for people with disabilities, such as higher electricity costs for charging wheelchairs.”

There are no guarantees with these public-private partnerships.

In her editorial, Ms. Aucello highlighted, amongst many issues, the fact that the media is not informing the public about the truth facing public housing residents. “Many in the press act as cheerleaders for RAD/PACT and another NYCHA plan known as the Blueprint,” Ms. Aucello wrote, adding that, “Combined, these plans will end public housing as we know it, and NYCHA has admitted in court that they plan to use these plans to abandon their obligations to residents.”

Recommended Reading

Andrew Yang is a Class Enemy : He’s a Liar Liar Privatizer !

Andrew Yang is a political enemy of the working class.

Andrew Yang is a class enemy of working families, retirees, and people earning low incomes. Like a true neocon big tech honcho, he’s focused on cutting welfare during a pandemic and the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. He proposes a miserly universal basic income (“UBI”) plan that won’t be enough to pay for Obamacare premiums and your rent. Meeting healthcare and housing needs during a pandemic is critical. What is worse, Andrew Yang has intentionally stayed silent as Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) wrecks NYCHA public housing with the privatisation schemes known as RAD/PACT and the Blueprint.

Yang has also remained mum about the evictions happening after RAD/PACT conversions. We believe that fully-funding capital repairs at NYCHA without resorting to privatization remains a good-faith effort at making a deposit on reparations owed to POC after centuries of slavery and discrimination. Why is Andrew Yang so quiet ?

If we keep quiet about how horrible Andrew Yang is, there’ll be nothing of NYCHA left after Mayor de Blasio finishes his last year in office. This is where Andrew Yang truly reveals himself to be a class enemy : He’s permitting the plundering of strategic public assets — our public housing stock. We can’t afford Andrew Yang as our next mayor !

Andrew Yang is a Liar Liar Privatizer ! He wants to do away with housing vouchers. NYCHA residents MUST organize to save public housing.

March to stop RAD/PACT/Blueprint conversions

NYCHA has admitted in Federal Court that they want to abandon their obligations to public housing residents after RAD/PACT/Blueprint conversions. This is unacceptable ! Please join our march to stop anymore privatisation of public housing.

We are planning a protest march to stop Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC) and NYCHA from abandoning their obligations to public housing residents after RAD/PACT/Blueprint conversion. It has been revealed in the Federal class-action Baez case that the de Blasio administration is using privatisation as an excuse to walk away from environmental protections and basic responsibilities they owe public housing residents. This is unacceptable ! Please join the social movement to save public housing and to fight for your civil rights ! We need your participation.

At our protest march, we will call-out politicians, who betrayed their campaign promises or continue the neglect.

Date : Sun., March 21, 2021

Time : 12 Noon (start-time)

Place : 344 E. 28th St., Manhattan

Accessibility : We meet outside of the front doors at 344 East 28th Street, Manhattan. Get ready to make noise and plan to march about 30 blocks. If you need transportation, we will try to arrange limited car pools by taxi. We can only pay for taxi service from what we can raise through our Go Fund Me for supplies expense. Please make a donation to support this march.

Rain Day : If it rains, we hold our march the following day — on Monday, Mar. 22 at 12 noon.

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.

Featured Reading

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