Pack the Court on Monday morning as Fight For NYCHA makes one last effort to stop RAD/PACT !

It appears that Mayor Bill de Blasio should have put RAD/PACT conversions through the ULURP Process. But he didn’t !

Because protests have not worked, the last few members of Fight For NYCHA have sued Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City), the City of New York, NYCHA CEO Greg Russ, and NYCHA to stop the RAD/PACT privatisation of public housing !

It’s been almost three years since Fight For NYCHA was formed. In that time, the activism to save public housing in New York City has been beset by division, sectarian politics, ego, obfuscation, and subversion. We had AOC refuse to stand-up to Mayor de Blasio’s use of RAD/PACT and the Blueprint to sell-out NYCHA. We had other Electeds approve of the sell-out of public housing, and they never faced any consequence for having participated in the sell-out of public housing. We had socialists and other sectarian groups promote the use of Section 8 vouchers to the disadvantage of public housing residents, which was shameful and a form of betrayal, because that was certainly no way to show class solidarity. Rather than confront Mayor de Blasio, some activists formed YouTube talk shows to promote themselves. Other groups, like Movement School, sought to use NYCHA activism as a cover for membership drives that was entirely divorced from a commitment to an outcome to saving Section 9 public housing. We also endured selfish political candidates, seeking to use NYCHA issues for their political campaigns, only to turn their backs once their campaigns floundered. Other political candidates, like Marni Halasa, used NYCHA activism for press clips ; it didn’t matter that she was leading/misleading residents in the wrong direction. All that mattered were her media mentions.

The lawsuit we filed was largely based on the lawsuit filed by Beep Gale Bewer (D-Manhattan) to stop the infill development at Holmes Tower, which she won after Mayor de Blasio backtracked from the unlawful plans for the real estate development in the Upper East Side.

We had no choice but to file this lawsuit after activism to mobilise public housing residents failed in New York City due to many “community groups” and nonprofit orgs running interference for Mayor de Blasio and other corrupt Electeds. Remember how one nonprofit hosted Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) at a Black church in Brooklyn after it came to be known he supported the sell-out of public housing in Chelsea. Even after we exposed the truth of how some Socialist Democrats were collaborating with Mayor de Blasio in his scheme to end all Section 9 public housing, it came to a shock to many that it took direct action in the face of the DSA to put a halt to the Blueprint.

The lawsuit, filed as an Article 78 Petition, revealed that Mayor de Blasio’s implementation of RAD/PACT was illegal, since the way that Mayor de Blasio is rolling-out RAD/PACT conversions violate the City Charter and the New York State Public Housing Law. The City Charter and the Public Housing Law require large-scale projects, like RAD/PACT conversions, to be put through the ULURP Process. But Mayor de Blasio, NYCHA, CEO Russ, and the City of New York did not follow the laws. In respect of the RAD/PACT conversion of Fulton Houses and Elliott-Chelsea, the lawsuit made a showing that the de Blasio administration admitted that they decided to act outside of the ULURP Process.

As time passed, we knew that litigation, like this, would be our last resort, if social movement building failed in the face of sectarian opposition. We ask for support, as we make it clear that all other groups must set aside self-interest and self-promotion for the common good of all. And that means seeing to it that Section 9 public housing is saved from privatisation. This must be made a priority, at long last.

Pack the Court !

Date : Monday, Nov. 15

Time : 9:30 am

Place : Supreme Court, New York County, 60 Centre St., Room 130

Update

Updated 12 Nov 2021 13:55 The Defendants have filed motions to dismiss our Article 78 petition. We need to work together to put a stop to RAD/PACT once and for all !

Source Documents

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 ?

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.

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.

There is no substitute for public housing !

IN THE ZONE — Manhattan Institute: De Blasio housing program has not lived up to promise, by POLITICO’s Janaki Chadha

A signature de Blasio administration policy that requires developers in rezoned areas to build affordable housing has failed to live up to its promise, a new Manhattan Institute report concludes. Mayor Bill de Blasio hailed the program, known as Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, as a game-changer when it was approved by the City Council in 2016. The policy, which he promised during his 2013 mayoral campaign, was billed as an essential tool to spur the construction of apartments for low- and middle-income people citywide. But the report — authored by former Department of City Planning official Eric Kober — argues flaws in the design of the program have made it ineffective in much of the city without public subsidy, “limit[ing] its utility” without additional financial commitments to affluent areas in which the city has largely shied away from pursuing rezonings that would boost density. The policy was presented “as another way to finance affordable housing that would go beyond the public funding that has historically been available” but has not worked out that way, said Kober, now an adjunct fellow at the fiscally conservative think tank. It was estimated by the city to generate 12,000 affordable apartments over 10 years.