We got this : The New York City economy is under pressure from the pandemic, and our easy economic boycott can force politicians to do right by NYCHA

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to put pressure on the New York City economy, and our stay-at-home one day a week boycott can add to the stress of neoliberal politicians.

With Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) reportedly having passed a Budget Reconciliation that may include the funding to finally end the Federal Government’s racist divestment of public housing, we can say that the fight to save NYCHA may, at first blush, appear, with some qualifications, to be approaching an end. There still remains a big question about whether the Democrats are actually united behind a new era of economic justice, since Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has said she opposes the $3.5 trillion spending measure.

Before we celebrate prematurely, let’s review how we got here. The U.S. Attorney’s Office began an investigation into the filing of false Federal lead paint certifications by NYCHA. The conclusion of that probe revealed a pattern or practise of routine neglect by NYCHA officials, and a habit of lies and deception. There was a lot of fake outrage, but there was little scrutiny focused on the Mayor, who appoints the top officials at NYCHA and who treats the public housing authority as a political patronage dumping ground.

The pennies-on-the-dollar Settlement Agreement that was the fruit of the Federal investigation into NYCHA created loopholes big enough for ongoing and continuing superclusters of corruption, like reports of fraud in the removal of lead paint, to cross over the event horizon into a supermassive black hole of an unaccountable bureaucracy.

At every turn, the movement to stop the sale of strategic public assets has been met with opposition, sabotage, or indifference. Our pro se litigation and, later, our amicus brief, were either thrown out by or not considered in the Courts. Politicians know how hard it is to organise NYCHA residents into a sustained social movement for economic justice. It’s very easy for them to divide tenants against each other with the appearance of political access or the never ending false promises of resident management corporations. Professional nonprofits or unprincipled activists with sectarian motives have, at times, aided dishonest politicians in this regard. But we have found a way forward !

The New York City economy is weakening due to the Delta variant, and this sets us up for the success of our economic boycott.

We admit we have had trouble in organising NYCHA residents. Our work at Fulton Houses and Elliott-Chelsea were undermined by politicians, including Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City). The president of the resident council at Fulton Houses misled residents into believing that RAD/PACT would be in their best interest, and he was caught tearing down our flyers, interfering with tenant organising, which is unlawful, according to the Fair Housing Act protections against retaliation. Later, tenants were mislead into believing that forming a resident management corporation would be financially or politically possible, when it was neither. Other “community groups” deliberately mislead public housing residents into deëscalating any criticism of elected officials. In the end, RAD/PACT has almost become a fait accompli, since Mayor de Blasio has reportedly succeeded in issuing a Request For Proposal for the RAD/PACT conversion of the last parcels of public housing in the gentrified Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea.

Disreputable individuals used the pandemic to scare residents from participating in protests against then-Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss over her role in countenancing the allegations of abuse and corruption of RAD/PACT conversions. Marches against elected officials didn’t draw enough support from public housing residents, either, because community groups allied with elected officials wrongly informed residents that the Green New Deal would save them, when there was no reality to that proposition, either.

When all looked lost, it became apparent that doing nothing was the only thing we should be aiming for. During the pandemic, wildcat strikes took place as essential workers demanded personal protective equipment (PPE), paid sick leave, and health insurance benefits, amongst other demands. Expecting something larger than walkouts from labour unions is probably unrealistic, since they now largely act as get-out-the-vote operations for the Democratic Party. The true beginnings of a general strike must come from a non-union context, namely, from people experiencing extreme forms of economic oppression.

That is why Fight For NYCHA is putting our faith in residents, who intuitively know that the pandemic is not over and that the Government is seeking to continue the era of racial disparities into the future. Given all the sectarianism we’ve witnessed in public housing organising in the last two years, the political ideologies that have coöpted NYCHA organising can support the concept of a general strike against a capitalist economy that is exploitative and creates the kind of economic inequality that is experienced by NYCHA public housing residents.

Join our general strike !

With news that Mayor de Blasio has been so neglectful about the out-of-control Delta variant that the New York City economy has been driven into a proverbial ditch, we are closer to being able to convince the Government that it would be in their best interest to meet our demands for economic justice, i.e., passage of H.R.235, the fully-fund public housing bill that could put an end to the privatisation of public housing. Whereas we are focused on saving public housing, we can still build solidarity with others. We’ve already opposed vaccine passports as a way to oppose invasions of privacy and to uphold a respect for people’s right to self-determine their own medical treatment. Not coïncidentally, this position also proposes to slow down the restart of the economy.

How to join our general strike. It’s within our reach to keep us safe. Just pledge to : (i). stay home at least one day a week to decrease community spread of the Coronavirus, (ii). call 311 to request both KN95 face masks and meal deliveries from food banks, and (iii). follow Fight For NYCHA on Facebook and Twitter for more information. We will be holding a Zoom meeting soon. Stay tuned.

Schumer called out Cuomo on failure to disburse Federal rent relief, but won’t call-out de Blasio on continued RAD/PACT and Blueprint sell-out of NYCHA

Politicians, like Majority Leader Charles Schumer, pretend they don’t see our pain, and, worse, they act powerless to stop the harm being done to us by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been like the White moderates that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., warned us about.

Sen. Schumer is hustling to appear compassionate about the little people. But he’s being selective about how hard he fights, based on political calculations premised on avoiding a 2022 primary.

Because Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) is scared of being primaried — a prospect that has been whispered about since 2018 (after a 10-term incumbent in the U.S. House of Representatives lost to a little-known former bartender) — he has been looking busy. He’s made a big show of advocating to fully-fund public housing after decades of racist divestment by the Federal Government. He’s also taken on outgoing Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), by first calling for his resignation and later calling him out on the slow-rollout of the Federal pandemic rental assistance relief programme.

When he wants to, Leader Schumer can move mountains. But it’s now he, who has been caught slow-walking opposition to the RAD/PACT and Blueprint sell-out of NYCHA public housing. These are just some of the neoliberal schemes being used by Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) and reportedly supported by his allies, including Sen. Julia Salazar (DSA-Bushwick), that will privatise public housing in New York City as a pretexte to raise money for capital repairs.

After Leader Schumer broke his promise to put at least $80 billion in funding for public housing in the Infrastructure Bill, Leader Schumer made another promise to put the funding into the Budget Reconciliation. But all we see in the Budget Reconciliation is a big pile of numbers. We have collected information that tells us that the allocations made in the Budget Reconciliation will be set to legislation in September, and only at that time will we know whether the new funding will save Section 9 public housing, or whether Leader Schumer will side with Mayor de Blasio, Sen. Salazar, and others to bring about the end of the New Deal promise of public housing.

Leader Schumer, like all the professional nonprofit groups that now supposedly care about saving NYCHA, know how to blow a lot of hot air, but when push comes to shove, they don’t do a thing to stand-up to Mayor de Blasio’s non-stop plans to privatise public housing. If Leader Schumer really cared, he’s slam de Blasio so hard that the corrupt mayor would both yank every request for proposal for every pending RAD/PACT conversion and stop trying to resurrect the Blueprint.

If Leader Schumer did fight so hard for the funding to pay for the capital repairs to the Nation’s public housing stock, then Leader Schumer must stop the sell-out of public housing — now, before more harm is done.

VIDEO : Schumer promised $80 billion to save public housing in the Infrastructure Bill. Today, the Infrastructure Bill passed with $0 for NYCHA.

The Infrastructure Bill passed today with no money for public housing.

Despite a promise to put $80 billion in funding for public housing into the President’s Infrastructure Bill, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) today oversaw passage of the Infrastructure Bill with $0 dollars allocated to the Nation’s public housing stock.

Because President Joseph Biden (D) worked with the GOP to water-down the Infrastructure Bill, Sen. Schumer has been forced to forget his old promise and make a new promise that the money would instead be put into the Budget Reconciliation that is now under consideration in the U.S. Senate.

Watch as Sen. Schumer’s office have begun to use parliamentary rules that stem from the filibuster to qualify that public housing funding will come with strings attached.

Chuck Schumer : You Promised Us To Save NYCHA. Where Is The Money To Stop RAD/PACT ?

Sen. Schumer has already broken one promise to fund public housing. Will he break another ?

Because of restrictions caused by the filibuster, funding from a Budget Reconciliation can’t come with greater tenant protections. As a result, this puts public housing residents at-risk for bad leases, increased costs, and evictions, because there will be no mechanism to stop the RAD/PACT conversions that Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) keeps shoving down our throats. Furthermore, 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.

We would prefer that Sen. Schumer pass H.R.235 — the fully-fund public housing bill, with an adjusted funding floor and increased protections we have been requesting — as a stand-alone bill. If he does not come through to protect Section 9 public housing, then we will work to make sure that Sen. Schumer is primaried in the 2022 Midterm Elections. Already, the Democrats are nervous about losing control of Congress.

Based on how they break their promises, they should be worried.

Schumer broke a promise to put public housing funding into the Infrastructure Bill. Now, he risks breaking a second promise about the Budget Reconciliation.

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.

If Sen. Charles Schumer doesn’t save Section 9 public housing, will voters will serve an “Eviction Notice” on him in the 2021 Midterms ?

We keep us safe : Stay home at least one day a week to stop community spread of the Delta variant in New York City

By staying home one day a week to stop community spread of the Delta variant, we can begin in this easy way a general strike until the Government improves pandemic care and ends the privatisation of NYCHA.

The Coronavirus pandemic is not over, but politicians reöpened the economy without addressing any of the racial disparities in society. They didn’t fully- fund public housing to save Section 9, give us universal healthcare, or fully-extend the eviction moratorium. They don’t care !

Now comes Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City), who is using vaccine passports to force us to get the vaccines, even though many public housing residents live with disabilities and are immuno-compromised. The vaccines won’t work, or are not appropriate, for us. For those who can take the vaccines, they should speak with their doctor about it. But Mayor de Blasio makes no exceptions for people, who can’t !

We keep us safe

Mayor de Blasio refuses to issue a compulsory indoor mask mandate. There’s no more talk about “bending the curve” or reducing at least some public activities in order to stop the community spread of the Coronavirus. As a result, Mayor de Blasio has decided to let the pandemic infect as many as possible with no regard for people, who come down with Long Covid or get sick enough for something worse to happen. Until Mayor de Blasio provides us with N95 or KN95 face masks and creates home-based jobs for NYCHA residents and until Congress passes H.R.235 to stop RAD/PACT, we need to take care of ourselves in the face of the Delta variant outbreak.

Please stay home at least one day a week. Make a big pot of soup and stay home.

In this easy way, we begin a general strike until they take care of us.

What you can do

  1. Stay home.
  2. Call 311 for food.
  3. Join our meeting on Aug. 21.

Food banks

If you need food, please call 311. You’ll be provided with hours of operation and directions to food pantries and soup kitchens.

Join our meeting

We will be having a meeting on Saturday, Aug. 21 at 344 E. 28th Street, Manhattan, at 2 pm. If it rains, we meet at the same place and time on Sunday, Aug. 22.

At this organising meeting, we will begin to plan how to get our demands met as we escalate our general strike until the Government takes care of us.

Share this post with your neighbors, friends, and family.

La enfermería, la gobiernaría — la misma porquería !

Hasta que el gobierno nos dé mejores máscaras para la pandemia, cree trabajos que podamos hacer desde casa, y proporcione todos los fondos para salvar la vivienda pública, le pedimos que se quede en casa un día a la semana. Llame al 311 si necesita comida. Únase a nuestra reunión el sábado 21 de agosto a las 2 pm en 344 E. 28th Street, Manhattan. Si llueve, nos reunimos el domingo 22 de agosto.

No Vaccine Passports until public housing is fully-funded by passage of H.R. 235

We are not going to go along with the reopening of the economy, only to return to the racial disparities that got us here.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) are only interested in reopening the economy before the end of the Coronavirus pandemic so that they can please their Big Business donors. Not only is this dangerous, because new variants of the Coronavirus are unleashing death and suffering in India. We’re not going along with that, especially since they have are doing nothing to end the racial disparities that brought the New York City Housing Authority to the brink of Federal receivership and, thus, to the dangerous push for privatisation. We’re not going back to the era of racist divestment as a pretexte for selling-out strategic public assets !

Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo ignored science and placed our lives in jeopardy at the start of the pandemic, and we’re not about to let them again place our lives — and our housing — in jeopardy in order to manufacture a false end to the pandemic.

Until public housing is fully-funded and a moratorium is placed on all RAD/PACT conversions, we will not participate in any Government scheme that reopens the economy until all racial and economic disparities come to an end at NYCHA.

In order to begin to address the racism that public housing residents, accountability and reform must be brought to the New York Police Department. This means that NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea must resign for deploying the dystopian Robot Dog to public housing. It’s not enough that the military contract for the Robot Dog with Boston Dynamics was cancelled early. There must be accountability for racist over-policing at NYCHA. To ensure structural reform at the NYPD, there must be a pattern and practise civil rights investigation of the troubled police department.

And most importantly, the Public Housing Emergency Response Act (H.R. 235) must be passed and signed into law, which will fund all backlog capital repairs for public housing authorities. Passage of this bill will end the era of racist divestment of public housing. With sponsorship by U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY 07) and support by Leader Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), this bill represents a renewal of the New Deal promise of public housing. This is a structural reform that is long over-due. And this is progressivism at perhaps its highest ideal.

We are not going back to the systemic racism and racial disparities of the de Blasio and Cuomo administrations without structural reforms. We are not participating in any economy that leads to our own exploitation and discrimination.

With a proposed plan on the table to fully-fund public housing, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez says no to RAD/PACT at NYCHA

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez has announced her opposition to RAD/PACT conversions at NYCHA public housing.

“If we get this money, there’s no reason for RAD.”

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY 07) announced at last week’s press conference her emphatic opposition to RAD/PACT conversions by NYCHA, now that a firm proposal for a plan to fully-fund public housing has the support of Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY).

When asked by OccupyRadio.net journalist Michael McCabe if the new proposal to provide at least $80 billion in the Senate version of the infrastructure bill first proposed by President Joe Biden (D) could stop further RAD/PACT conversions at NYCHA, U.S. Rep. Velázquez was ardent in her opposition to the use of private sector landlords to manage public housing.

“Well, the reason NYCHA has come up with RAD is because of the lack of resources and investment from the Federal Government. If we get this money, there’s no reason for RAD,” U.S. Rep. Velázquez said, adding that, “NYCHA or any Agency or City Government should not be in the business of selling public assets.”

U.S. Rep. Velázquez’s leadership on funding public housing has inspired Leader Schumer to champion the issue. But Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez continue to support RAD/PACT.

Leader Schumer’s support to fully-fund public housing came to the fore after U.S. Rep. Velázquez sponsored Public Housing Emergency Response Act (H.R. 235), draft legislation to provide Federal funding for the backlog of capital repairs to public housing.

In spite of the emerging reality that the capital repairs will soon be fully-funded, Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DSA-NY 14) continue to support RAD/PACT.

On Friday, the de Blasio administration issued a Request For Proposal for the RAD/PACT conversion of the last three public housing developments in the gentrified Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea, namely, Fulton Houses, Elliott Houses, and Chelsea Houses. That the de Blasio administration continues with RAD/PACT conversions represents a promise of continued systemic racism, because private sector landlords stand to weaken tenants’ rights under the privatisation scheme.

For her part, U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez renewed her call to use the discredited “tenant protection vouchers” in her controversial “green” New Deal for public housing plan. Her plan, which was rolled-out one day after Leader Schumer’s historical press conference in Harlem, stands to rival Leader Schumer’s plan. U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley III has ruled that NYCHA can legally weaken tenants’ rights under the so-called tenant protection vouchers. It’s not yet known how the non-stop political challenges by U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez will be received by the Biden administration. Already, U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s supporters have announced plans to primary one of President Biden’s most steadfast allies in Manhattan, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY 12).

Exclusive Video

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.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : 5 City Council Candidates call on de Blasio to stop RAD conversions at NYCHA during pandemic

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACTS :

Anthony Beckford,
VoteforAnthonyBeckford@gmail.com,
(989) 964-8713

Rodrigo Camarena,
Rodrigo@Rodrigo4NYC.com,

Victoria Cambranes,
vcambranes@gmail.com,
(917) 202-8466

Rick Echevarría,
rick@voterick2021.com,
(929) 282-5482

Marni Halasa,
marnihalasa@gmail.com,
(917) 501-9444

FIVE DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRIMARY CANDIDATES FOR CITY COUNCIL CALL ON MAYOR DE BLASIO TO STOP RAD CONVERSIONS AT NYCHA — AND HAND-OVER DECISIONS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC HOUSING TO THE NEXT MAYOR, THE NEXT CITY COUNCIL

NEW YORK, NY (Nov. 28) — A group of five (5) Democratic Party primary candidates in separate New York City Council races are calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) to cease all conversions of New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA“) apartment buildings under HUD’s scheme known as Rental Assistance Demonstration (“RAD“).

City Council Candidates Anthony Beckford (D-District 45), Rodrigo Camarena (D-District 38), Victoria Cambranes (D-District 33), Rick Echevarría (D-District 37), and Marni Halasa (D-District 3) issue the following statements in a joint effort to draw attention to the mayor’s dangerous privatization of public housing.

“The attempt to privatize public housing is violence against the people,” said Beckford, adding that, “The RAD program will displace thousands of families and will eliminate public housing. RAD is a threat to NYCHA residents and must be eliminated.  Private developers and the elected officials who support them are a threat to our communities and must be stopped. We must fully fund and repair NYCHA and provide the services and resources needed for the tenants.”

“Public housing should remain in the public’s hands,” said Camarena, adding that, “The RAD program opens the door for the full privatization of public housing in New York City and aims to absolve our Government from their responsibility to fully-fund and repair NYCHA. Housing is a human right, and it’s up to our Government to secure and protect that right.”

“RAD conversions are a shortsighted privatization scheme that would have NYCHA tenants living within construction sites, breathing in all that dust, paint, and whatever else kicks up,” said Cambranes, adding that, “It’s a proven eviction-machine, and while tenants may enjoy new kitchen upgrades, their rights and protections will deteriorize just as their buildings have for so long.”

“Mayor de Blasio should be ashamed of himself for attempting to privatize public housing that has been public for 100 years, while HUD has an anti-public housing and lame duck Secretary,” said Echevarría, adding that, “There should be no further RAD progress until the new HUD Secretary is confirmed ! At which point, the HUD/NYCHA agreement should be modified to preserve public housing in the long-term without a private option !”

“Hard data shows that RAD is not only an eviction machine, but will end public housing as we know it,” said Halasa, candidate for Council District 3. “What’s sad is that the elected officials on the West Side of Manhattan put public housing tenants through the wringer with their sham working group, a group which operates in secret — in violation of the state’s sunshine laws that demands transparency in the disposition of public assets. At the very least, because of COVID, RAD should be shelved until the next mayor and Councilmembers are elected. That’s the least they could do.”

The pandemic makes it impossible for NYCHA residents to meet, confer, discuss, and understand the RAD legal documents

Amidst the second shut-down of the Coronavirus pandemic, now is not the time to continue with, much less expand, RAD conversions. NYCHA residents have long complained that NYCHA is not providing enough explanations or translations about the RAD conversion legal documents. The conversion process itself has been designed to bum-rush tenants into signing RAD Leases with horrendous clauses and provisions.  NYCHA has proposed Zoom meetings as an inferior substitute for physical meetings, but the Zoom meetings fail to attract robust participation, because residents either don’t have WiFi, computer or smart phone devices, or the skill to make meaningful use of Zoom meetings (as imperfect and limiting as they are). An immediate suspension to all RAD conversions is warranted, and a robust public review of the privatization of NYCHA must take place under the next mayoral administration and the next City Council session — once the pandemic is over.

We Don’t Need RAD to save NYCHA

Many elected officials have pending legislation to save NYCHA (or to make the process to “dispose” of public housing assets more transparent), and it is dishonest to move forward with RAD as the sole solution when other solutions are within reach. For example, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY 7) has introduced a bill to fully-fund the capital repairs needed by NYCHA without having to resort to any privatization. Assemblymember Harvey Epstein (D-74th District) co-sponsors legislation to make any disposition of public housing assets subject to the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (“ULURP Process“). Separately, the activist-preservation group, Fight For NYCHA, have argued that money can be found to fully-fund repairs at NYCHA by raising taxes on corporations or the wealthy with ideas featured in their aspirational, People’s Budget.

The candidates make these statements in support of the NYCHA residents currently facing RAD conversion. The candidates join in the fight to keep NYCHA residents in Section 9 public housing and to let those, who have them, keep their portable Section 8 Tenant-Based Vouchers (TBV).

Melanie Aucello, the resident association president at the NYCHA public housing apartment building located at 344 East 28th Street in Manhattan, recently joined Fight For NYCHA as a core member, because her apartment building and 15 other locations face imminent RAD conversion, which is expected to take place on Monday, Nov. 30.

Aucello, civil rights attorney Michael Sussman, and Assemblymember Epstein issued a press release last Tuesday, making a similar demand as the five candidates. A separate letter sent by Sussman to Mayor de Blasio raised objections to clauses or provisions in the proposed RAD Lease Agreement that could pass extra costs to tenants and put tenants at-risk for evictions.

RAD is a bad deal for public housing tenants

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 the RAD Landlord at Ocean Bay alone in the time following its RAD Conversion.

Because RAD has developed such a bad reputation, the mayor has rebranded RAD under an Orwellian name :  Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (“PACT“) in an effort to confuse tenants about the negative impacts that privatization of public housing holds in their future. Besides RAD/PACT conversions, the mayor plans to seize green spaces, playgrounds, and parking lots for infill development, and he plans to sell air rights above NYCHA developments to real estate developers. He has also shockingly proposed the demolition of public housing apartment buildings in order to rezone the lots under Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (“MIH“) to build 80-20 or 70-30 luxury apartment buildings.

To market RAD, HUD has argued that RAD provides $19 of leverage to every $1 of public housing funds. However, a 2018 review by the National Affordable Housing Management Association (“NAHMA“) revealed that when RAD funding was recalculated to remove Government funding, the leverage ratio falls to $1.23 in private financial funding to every $1 in public housing funds.

In light of the addition of only pennies on the dollar in real margin and as a result of the eviction risks to public housing residents, the above-named City Council candidates and the activist-preservation group Fight For NYCHA are arguing that preserving the status quo until the next mayor has been elected and the next session of the New York City Council has been sworn in (once the pandemic is over) would provide conditions that would lead to more transparency and tenant participation in determining the future of NYCHA public housing.

About Fight For NYCHA

Fight For NYCHA is a collective fighting so NYCHA tenants can self-determine the future of public houisng in New York City. We oppose Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to put one-third of NYCHA into the hands of private landlords. We believe the money exists to save NYCHA. We just have to change our priorities. Learn more about our People’s Budget plan to fully-fund NYCHA : https://fightfornycha.org/peoples-budget/.

Fight For NYCHA is not a political action committee. As a result, it does not endorse candidates, and it makes no financial contributions to campaign committees.