Protest to demand a cut the U.S. Military budget or to end the filibuster in order to fully-fund public housing

THE NYCHA IS NOT FOR SALE COALITION CALLS ON THE WHITE HOUSE TO SUPPORT H.R. 235, A BILL TO FULLY-FUND PUBLIC HOUSING, EVEN IF IT MEANS CUTTING AT LEAST SOME OF THE U.S. MILITARY BUDGET AND/OR ENDING THE FILIBUSTER.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT : Edwin DeJesus, info@edwinfornyc.com, (917) 804-7087

NEW YORK, NY (July 4) — The NYCHA Is Not For Sale coalition declares that it is time for U.S. citizens to declare independence from the U.S. military-industrial complex and the filibuster that currently prevent the U.S. Congress from passing progressive legislation, like H.R.235/S.598/S.679, which would provide emergency funding for the backlog capital repairs to the Nation’s public housing stock.

To support our demands, NYCHA Is Not For Sale coalition members today staged a direct-action protest to focus public attention on the need to fund the backlog of capital repairs to public housing.

VIDEO 1 : Banner Drop [Twitter]

VIDEO 2 : Drone Attack [Twitter]

At the protest today, public housing activists participated in a banner drop and in renouncing the glorification of U.S. Military spending at the cost of funding habitable housing for NYCHA residents, who include U.S. veterans, civil servants, retirees, public school children, and many others.

On 18 April 2021, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) promised to support amending H.R.235 so that it would provide $80 billion to fund the backlog of capital repairs to public housing, of which approx. $40 billion would be earmarked for the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA.  Furthermore, NYCHA residents were promised that H.R.235 would be put into the Infrastructure Bill being shaped by President Joseph Biden (D) and would provide job opportunities to public housing residents.

But H.R.235 was not included in the bipartisan Infrastructure Bill that was negotiated with G.O.P. Senators.

There is an urgency to funding public housing, because neoliberals, such as Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City), seek to sell-out public housing with schemes, like the Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD ; Permanent Affordability Commitment Together, or PACT ; infill development ; the sale of air rights ; and/or the Blueprint — plans that seek to permanently end Section 9 public housing by disposing of public housing assets.

Cut the U.S. Military budget or end the filibuster

NOW, THEREFORE, in order to fully-fund the long-overdue capital repairs to NYCHA, the NYCHA Is Not For Sale coalition hereby demands that the White House must communicate that : (a). the House pass H.R.235 as a stand-alone bill — just like it has done with a large surface transporation bill (H.R.3684) that is infrastructure-related, and (b). the Senate pass the companion bill with funding set at $80 billion, as promised by Senate Majority Leader Schumer. Fully-f unding public housing is possible under two frameworks :

  • FRAMEWORK #1.  President Biden must ask the U.S. Congress to fund the backlog of capital repairs in the Nation’s public housing stock by cutting the cost from the bloated U.S. Military budget.  For too long, the Federal Government has never questioned U.S. Military spending (https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/raytheon-gets-2-billion-us-air-force-contract-long-range-weapon-2021-07-01/), and that has always come at the cost of making long, overdue investments in infrastructure, including to public housing.  Furthermore, if the U.S. Congress must take up passage of H.R.235/S.598/S.679 solely by budget reconciliation, then the funds for public housing can come from making budget realocations from the U.S. Military.  The NYCHA Is Not For Sale coalition stands with our allies in jointly demanding an end to the endless wars.  We seek to stop Washington from arming, funding, bombing, and deploying troops and drones in wars and armed conflict around the world.  We must create the long, overdue peace dividend that can be invested in domestic programs, beginning with ending the era of the racist divestment of public housing.  Indeed, the Government expanded NYCHA to provide housing to veterans returning from World War II (https://www.nytimes.com/1946/06/02/archives/study-shows-families-of-veterans-occupy-a-large-part-of-the-public.html?searchResultPosition=2).  Our Nation owes veterans, their families, and all public housing residents safe, sanitary, and habitable public housing.  We must collectively seek to promote peace around the World, and this means we must end the use of all foreign aid that presently supports the commission of war crimes and human rights violations.  A peacetime economy can support a new commitment to racial, legal, and social justice.
  • FRAMEWORK #2.  If President Biden cannot support cutting $80 billion from the U.S. Military budget, then President Biden must forgo elusive bipartisan support.  Bipartisanship was never going to be possible with Republic Party obstructionism that relies on using the filibuster to block passage of progressive legislation.  Many have called the filibuster a vestige of slavery and of Jim Crow laws that have for too long permitted a powerful minority to distort the democratic functions of Government.  President Biden must abandon GOP compromise that is premised on avoiding the filibuster by pressuring the U.S. Senate to end the filibuster completely.  Republicans could not block passage of H.R.235/S.598/S.679 and other progressive legislation, including voting rights protections, without relying on the filibuster.  The time to do away with the filibuster is now.  Once the filibuster has been eliminated, then the Democrats in the U.S. Senate can pass S.598/S.679 (the companion bills to H.R.235), so that the U.S. House can vote to pass H.R.235.  Majority Leader Schumer’s promise to NYCHA residents would end the era of the racist divestment of public housing, and we need to do everything possible to help him keep his word.

NYCHA faces an emergency.  For years, Mayor de Blasio has promoted several schemes to end Section 9 public housing or to privatise public housing.  We don’t need to end the New Deal promise of public housing, because we have options to fund the backlog of capital repairs by either cutting from the U.S. Military Budget or ending the filibuster.  The time to act is now.

Do let’s be clear : Bill de Blasio is determined to wreck NYCHA before he leaves office. We can’t let him !

Mayor Bill de Blasio is pushing a June 10 vote by the New York State Legislature to approve the Blueprint, so he can go into Court on the Baez case on June 14 and declare that most of Section 9 is doomed to end. We can’t let him !

We have received information that Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) is pressuring Albany Legislators to vote to approve the dangerous Blueprint for NYCHA. Under the Blueprint, all public housing apartments (that wouldn’t already perish under RAD/PACT) would be converted to Section 8 housing and placed into a new State Authority that will have no political accountability. It will become another MTA — a rudderless Agency that both the Governor and the Mayor disown, even though both of them secretly angle in smoke-filled backrooms to control the MTA’s valuable procurement and construction contracts. That’s what the new Blueprint entity is going to be like.

The information we have received is that the Albany vote for the Blueprint is schedule on or about June 10. The Mayor is pushing for such an early date, because he’s deliberately trying to convert all public housing tenants from from Section 9 housing to Section 8, because U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley III has ruled in the Baez case that the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, can treat Section 8 residents with substandard care. That’s what the mayor wants — he wants to create a “separate and unequal treatment” for Section 8 residents, so that public housing becomes more “attractive” to private sector landlords-investors. NYCHA owes Judge Pauley a status report on June 14, and the mayor wants nothing more than to go into Court and tell Judge Pauley that most of Section 9 is doomed to end.

This is a scam, and we have to call it all out — including the various politicians, who are enabling Mayor de Blasio — a corrupt, lame duck mayor left unindicted by the Manhattan Federal prosecutors’ office — to wreck all of public housing before he leaves office.

The same State Legislators, who whisper in each others’ ears that, “RAD has to happen,” want to negotiate to accept the Blueprint. We can’t let them !

Several self-styled “progressive” New York State Legislators from Brooklyn plan to vote as a bloc, and they have expressed interest in negotiating with NYCHA to accept the Blueprint. This is a trap, and the fact that these Legislators are using the pretexte of “negotiating” for an acceptable deal is indication that they plan to sell you out. Are you going to let them ?

From the beginning of the formation of Fight For NYCHA, several Legislators have privately expressed hesitancy about confronting Mayor de Blasio in a public rebuke of his RAD/PACT and Blueprint sell-out of NYCHA. Most prominently, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Justice Democrats-NY 14) infamously said though her staff that they were not interested in using Mayor de Blasio as a “punching bag” in order to push back on the RAD/PACT sell-out of NYCHA. Later, it was revealed that trade unions helped her negotiate her astroturf bill for NYCHA. Whenever large real estate development projects are proposed by the corrupt real estate industry that are opposed by community residents, unscrupulous politicians rely on the support of trades unions as political cover to override the will of community residents. Under this analysis, U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is “union-washing” the RAD/PACT sell-out of NYCHA. It’s no different than when real estate developers overtake Community Board hearings with men in yellow jackets and hardhats and run roughshod over long-term residents during ULURP hearings.

Some of AOC’s State Legislature counterparts are doing something similar, but no less dangerous and undemocratic.

The mayor is pushing a rezoning of Gowanus, the sell-out of Governor’s Island, and the NoHo/SoHo rezoning to cash-out with the real estate industry before he mounts a clown-car campaign for New York Governor’s mansion. The outsized egos of many opportunist community group leaders, who are fighting their respective battles, prevent a coming together for the good of the City. Under this scenario of self-will run riot, the City — and public housing — doesn’t stand a chance to stand-up to Mayor de Blasio’s corrupt enablers in the New York State or the Municipal legislatures.

Since the other community groups selfishly won’t do it, we will be planning a protest that will welcome everybody.

Stay tuned.

Bill de Blasio’s Five Biggest Lies about RAD/PACT and Blueprint at NYCHA

Bill de Blasio is a Liar, Liar, Privatizer !

LIE # 1 : NYCHA has no money for repairs.

FACT : We don’t need RAD/PACT or the Blueprint. Sen. Charles Schumer supports H.R.235, a House bill that when updated would provide $80 billion this year to public housing nation-wide, of which $40 billion would pay for all the repairs at NYCHA. We don’t have to sell-out public housing !

LIE # 2 : Your rights are protected.

FACT : NYCHA isn’t telling you that they are deliberately moving everybody from Section 9 to Section 8 so that everybody gets weaker tenant rights. For example, you lose rights to mold repairs and protections under the Baez case after the judge approved lower-tier rights. The RAD/PACT Landlords profit this way.

LIE # 3 : You won’t get evicted, you’re safe.

FACT : At the very first RAD/PACT conversion, over 80 households were evicted. You have no access to the Federal Monitor, so nobody will investigate civil rights violations. The new Leases are rigged, you could end up paying for utilities and costs, and you are shown no mercy at Housing Court.

LIE # 4 : You still have tenant participation.

FACT : Tenant participation doesn’t mean anything, because you don’t have any say in the wording of the Leases, the House Rules, or the fines. The RAD/PACT Landlords are private sector landlords, and the last thing they want is tenants, who think they have a say in building management.

LIE # 5 : The new kitchen cabinets are worth it.

FACT : You will live with unsafe construction, like dust from lead paint and holes in walls. Of course, repairs are long-overdue, but these cosmetic changes aren’t enough. You lose elevator access during construction, and you lose all supportive services, like job training, that NYCHA used to provide.

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.

A recovery in New York City most certainly not for us

The call by Mayor Bill de Blasio to reopen the economy, now being rushed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, promises a return to the discriminatory power dynamic and social hierarchy of the past.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) went on State media on Thursday morning to announce by authoritarian dictate that the economy will be fully reopened in New York City by July 1, 2021. “We are ready for stores to open, for businesses to open, offices, theaters, full strength,” the mayor said, according to the City-provided transcript of his on-air remarks.

A fully-reopened economy will mean that the Government can stop providing assistance to compensate people for the racial disparities that were revealed in glaring detail by the Coronavirus pandemic, namely, how the profit-driven healthcare system tolerates racial disparities in healthcare outcomes for people. It means that the free healthcare (the free Coronavirus testing and the free Coronavirus vaccines) will come to an end. It means that the emergency food banks that have been providing people with nutrition due to the rise in joblessness will come to an end. It means that the extensions of unemployment assistance will come to an end. It means that the emergency shelter being provided to people without homes will come to an end. There’s only one goal Mayor de Blasio has : “We’re going to keep driving down COVID through vaccinations.”

On the way to delivering these free vaccinations, Mayor de Blasio has conveniently forgotten about the lip service he paid to racial disparities that were exposed during his two terms in office. In March, the mayor announced the formation of a racial justice commission that was supposed to replace the racial justice commission he had announced last year and which was never formed. Damn the racial justice commission reports, at this point, the mayor just wants to reopen the economy. And Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) was made jealous enough to call for a reopening sooner than July 1.

There’s no thought to end the systemic racism in our society. Even with the healthcare disparities made clear during the Coronavirus pandemic, that didn’t stop Gov. Cuomo from cutting Medicaid, and it hasn’t stopped him from trying to close still yet more hospitals in Brooklyn or Queens. In terms of business, corporate retail giants, like Amazon, Walmart, and Target, saw online sales skyrocket as local, small businesses were forced to close due to the pandemic. The politicians are focused on returning us to an economy with even more disturbing economic inequalities, including higher rates of poverty.

This is one test that reveals how wedded Mayor de Blasio is to systemic racism : His non-stop scheme for RAD/PACT and Blueprint conversions of NYCHA public housing.

Even though Mayor de Blasio was left unindicted following a wide-ranging, Federal corruption investigation into his campaign finance activities and even though Gov. Cuomo faces another round of corruption investigations coupled with an independent counsel investigation into sexual harassment allegations that are, collectively, the subject of an impeachment inquiry, they are the ones making decisions affecting our lives.

Already, a group of New York City parents and teachers filed a lawsuit last December to stop compulsory Coronavirus testing over Fourth Amendment privacy rights, including concerns that DNA samples may wind up in a database without patients’ consent, according to a report published by Gothamist. And Saturday, dozens of municipal employees protested Mayor de Blasio’s demand that 80,000 City workers return to office work this week, according to a report published by the New York Daily News. The mayor’s obsession with reopening the economy flies in the face of the relentless Coronavirus pandemic, which, world-wide, has reached a new peak of deaths and cases, according to a CBS News report broadcast on Sunday.

Of particular concern to New York City Housing Authority residents is Mayor de Blasio’s non-stop push to continue the privatisation of strategic public housing assets. Despite no basis in law, the Government has countenanced Mayor de Blasio’s failure to hold public meetings about his scheme for the the RAD/PACT conversion of public housing. For example, on April 23, the de Blasio administration announced the issuance of a Request For Proposal for the RAD/PACT conversion of the Fulton Houses, Elliott Houses, and Chelsea Houses — the last hold-outs of affordable housing in the gentrified Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea.

Despite resident and community opposition, Mayor de Blasio acts like he cannot be stopped from disposing public assets — even when confronted with a very public effort by U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY 07) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) to fully-fund the backlog of capital repairs across the Nation’s entire public housing stock. U.S. Rep. Velázquez and Sen. Schumer are basically teaming up to promise to end the decades of racist divestment of public housing, but Mayor de Blasio is more concerned with making sure that the economic gears resume their grinding of people of colour and people living with low incomes.

The de Blasio administration suspects that human remains and cultural items belonging to Native American tribes may be buried underneath Williamsburg Houses, but that still didn’t stop him from moving forward with RAD/PACT, in violation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Whether you are dead or alive, Mayor de Blasio believes that the privatisation of our heritage must go on.

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

Fight For NYCHA file an objection with HUD over the RAD/PACT conversion of Williamsburg Houses

The New York City Dept. of Housing and Preservation Development submitted NEPA Categorical Exclusion documents for NYCHA that glossed over environmental issues at Williamsburg Houses, including the possible destruction of Native American burial grounds.

A member of the group, Fight For NYCHA, filed on Thursday an objection with the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD“), arguing five (5) alternative reasons why the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA“) Categorical Exclusion documents submitted by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD“) as applicant on behalf of the New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA“) should be rejected.

Under HUD regulations, an applicant can, on behalf of a public housing authority, claim an exception to the requirement that an Environmental Impact Statement or an Environmental Assessment be submitted for public housing developments undergoing changes due to the Rental Assistance Demonstration (“RAD“) scheme. Under RAD, the management of public housing developments can be transferred to private sector landlords, who would collect the rents and HUD subsidies. From those monies, the private sector landlords would pay for at least some of the backlog of capital repairs that accrued due to decades of racist divestment of public housing. RAD has been marketed to unsuspecting NYCHA residents as a panacea. Promises have been made for superficial repairs, like new kitchen cabinets. Public housing residents have been promised that their tenants’ rights would not change. However, that’s not turned out to be true.

NYCHA has a pattern or practise of violating environmental laws or regulations, and the Objection filed with HUD alleged that NYCHA was also violating laws regulating the return of Native American tribal cultural items.

The Objection filed by the group, Fight For NYCHA, alleged that NYCHA had violated the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (“NAGPRA“), which requires Government Agencies receiving Federal funding to return to descendants of, or Native American tribes, items discovered of their cultural heritage, including human remains.

The NEPA Categorical Exclusion documents reveal the possibility that Native American burial grounds may be found at Williamsburg Houses. NYCHA was accused of treating the preservation and treatment of Native American cultural artifacts as possible exigencies instead of an obligation to comply with the law before any of the environmentally-disruptive activities contemplated for Williamsburg Houses were set to begin. A related complaint has been filed with the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Dept. of the Interior.

Some of NYCHA’s deliberate acts at violating environmental laws or regulations is a shock to the conscience.

NYCHA has completely ignored revelations that “29 spills and 8 historical cleaners within 1/8 mile ; 45 underground storage tank sites, 8 dry cleaners and 36 aboveground storage tank sites within 1/4 mile ; 44 leaking storage tank sites within 1/2 mile ; and 3 manufactured gas plant sites within 1 mile of the subject property” may have affected the site. Because NYCHA has a long history of violating its own promises of, much less laws regulating, environmental protections, it should come to no surprise that NYCHA engaged in obfuscation in the NEPA Categorical Exclusion documents by limiting the depth of groundwater soil borings to 45 feet bgs. NYCHA acted disingenuously and, therefore, unlawfully, when it failed to conduct adequate environmental studies of groundwater under Williamsburg Houses. After a random check of the elevation of Williamsburg Houses using a Web application, it was revealed that the elevation of the grounds of Williamsburg Houses ranges from 43 feet to 52 feet. When NYCHA conducted inadequate environmental studies of the groundwater specifically designed to fail to encounter groundwater, it was as if NYCHA conducted no groundwater studies at all.

Hazardous waste, chemicals, poisons, or toxins were detected in the soils of Williamsburg Houses, including three pesticides (4,4′-DDD, 4,4′- DDE, and 4,4′-DDT) and several metals (arsenic, copper, lead, mercury, and zinc), which were detected at levels above their respective NYSDEC Unrestricted and/or Restricted Resident Use Soil Cleanup Objectives.

Judge Pauley ruled that NYCHA can exclude RAD/PACT residents from protections offered by the Revised Consent Decree in the Baez class action mold case

SDNY Judge William Pauley III ruled that the de Blasio administration can deny Baez case mold “protections” to NYCHA RAD PACT public housing residents receiving Section 8 Tenant Protection Vouchers

In a long, overdue ruling, U.S. District Court Jude William Pauley III issued an opinion, claiming that the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) could exclude residents of New York City Housing Authority from receiving the benefits of the Revised Consent Decree in the Baez class action mold abatement case. The decree would have conferred benefits to mold abatement, like the removal of excess moisture, plumbing repairs, and roof fan replacements. As a consequence of the Court’s opinion, those benefits would be denied to public housing residents transferred to the private sector under the mayor’s privatisation schemes. The ruling represented an immediate win for Mayor de Blasio, who has long sought to end the New Deal promise of public housing by privatising City real property and by abandoning all obligations to public housing residents. Judge Pauley’s ruling provided that, should the parties fail to propose a new Consent Decree, they should be prepared to litigate the issue in Court.

The privatisation schemes, known as Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD, and Permanent Affordability Commitment Together, or PACT, transfer strategic public assets to private sector landlords, who siphon off rent monies formerly kept in the public sector of the U.S. economy that then get treated as profits kept by the private sector.

Former NYCHA Interim CEO and current 2021 Democratic Party mayoral primary candidate Kathryn Garcia described RAD/PACT to the New York City Congressional delegation in 2019 as offering public housing residents with “tenant protection vouchers,” according to a social media post of that time then. However, Judge Pauley’s ruling essentially admitted that residents of RAD/PACT-converted public housing developments will receive no protections under the Revised Consent Decree in the Baez class action mold abatement case. Members of Fight For NYCHA have accused former NYCHA Interim CEO Garcia, Mayor de Blasio, and current NYCHA CEO Greg Russ, and their enablers, such as Lucy Newman of the Legal Aid Society, of lying to residents when they claimed that residents’ rights would be “protected” under RAD/PACT.

Public housing residents face gross injustices as a consequence of RAD/PACT conversions. A core member of Fight For NYCHA published an editorial in the New York Daily News just last week, revealing many problems with Mayor de Blasio’s implementation of RAD/PACT. In motion practise, NYCHA admitted that they planned to end all obligations to public housing residents under their privatisation schemes. Next up would include residents of Fulton Houses and Elliott-Chelsea Houses, who surrendered to RAD/PACT conversion after resident leaders there splintered off from Fight For NYCHA and were recruited by unscrupulous political groups loyal to Mayor de Blasio.

In response to the onslaught of privatisation facing public housing in New York City, many politicians have continued to “green-wash” the dangers facing NYCHA public housing residents. Rather than focus on the economic and eviction risks from RAD/PACT conversions, politicians and their supporters, such as 2021 Democratic Party mayoral primary candidate Andrew Yang, have focused on making public housing apartment buildings more energy efficient or expanding composting facilities. This refocusing has deliberately obfuscated how Mayor de Blasio’s use of RAD/PACT put public housing residents in jeopardy of losing their housing. A significant number o the first residents to face RAD/PACT conversion at Ocean Bay Apartments in Far Rockaway, Queens, faced eviction.

The “green-washing” of NYCHA arguably began with U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (WFP-NY 14), who blamed global warming on NYCHA public housing residents, even though for decades they have not received adequate heat or hot water during winter months and suffer from routine electrical brown-outs and suspended elevator service.

On the same day as Judge Pauley revealed that NYCHA’s Tenant Protection Vouchers offer no tenant protections, the NYPD deployed a robot dog to a public housing development converted under RAD/PACT.

Even as Judge Pauley admitted in his latest ruling in the Baez class action mold case, that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s promise of providing “Tenant Protection Vouchers” offered RAD/PACT residents no actual protections, the NYPD responded to 344 East 28th Street, a public housing apartment building that was part of the 2020 RAD/PACT Manhattan Bundle, with military grade equipment, including its controversial dystopian “robot dog.”

Robot Dog NYC NYCHA 2021 Black Mirror Becoming Reality

The NYPD’s response to a reported domestic disturbance included the use of military grade equipment. Under the politics of neoliberalism in control of the Government, there’s money to militarise the police, but no money to fully-fund NYCHA.

Days after the president of the resident association at 344 East 28th Street published a daring editorial, denouncing Mayor de Blasio’s RAD/PACT privatisation scheme for NYCHA public housing, the NYPD deployed a controversial $75,000 robotic dog in response to a reported domestic disturbance. The NYPD response included the assembly of  officers from its Technical Assistance Response Unit, or TARU, which reportedly command drones and robotic equipment.

The politicians running the Government have rejected the “Defund the Police” social movement and have requested to boost U.S. military spending, but they have merely offered pennies on the dollar for the backlog of repairs crippling the Nation’s public housing stock.

After two years of activism, Fight For NYCHA have continued to pressure for full-funding of the estimated $32 billion in backlog capital repairs for NYCHA public housing, which would render any further RAD/PACT conversions as unnecessary. The value of the backlog of repairs facing NYCHA have never been the subject of a Federal audit by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY 07) has offered legislation that would provide $70 billion to pay for backlog capital repairs to public housing nation-wide, yet President Joseph Biden (D) has only reportedly promised to include $40 billion in his infrastructure bill. Some politicians are now making public demands that the infrastructure bill must raise its public housing allocation to the amount of U.S. Rep. Velázquez’s bill.

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