The public demands a suspension of RAD conversions at NYCHA and call on Bill de Blasio to let the next mayor determine the future of public housing in New York City
(New York, NY, Nov. 24) — Legal agreements being used by the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio to convert 16 public housing developments owned and operated by the New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA”) as a bundle under HUD’s controversial scheme known as Rental Assistance Demonstration (“RAD”) give RAD Landlords the ability to ask the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development to deregulate formerly public housing apartment units into market-rate apartments should a RAD Landlord fail to make RAD-converted buildings economically viable, records reveal.
See Section 2(c)(v) of the Declaration : https://fightfornycha.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Declaration-of-Restrictive-Covenants-and-Use-Agreement-East-28th-Wise-Towers-D0998451-7xA5BED.docx.
Melanie Aucello, the resident association president at the NYCHA public housing development at 344 East 28th Street in Manhattan, has become a core member of the NYCHA preservation group, Fight For NYCHA. Her building is about to join 15 other public housing developments in a bundle conversion scheduled to be completed by 30 November.
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 one RAD Landlord at Ocean Bay alone in the time following its RAD Conversion.
“In the holiday season — and in the middle of a pandemic — I have to ask Mayor de Blasio, ‘Why would you put all of NYCHA residents at-risk for evictions ?’ We demand a stop to RAD,” said Aucello, adding that, “The process you and NYCHA have forced upon us is intentionally designed for the best interests of private sector landlords and their profit. It is unfair to saddle future generations and the next, incoming mayoral administration with the consequences of RAD. It is best left for the next mayor to save NYCHA, not you.”
The civil rights attorney, Michael Sussman, has sent Mayor de Blasio a letter raising important objections about the RAD legal agreements and the new Lease Agreement that public housing residents are being forced to sign.
See : https://fightfornycha.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/20201123_Second_Michael_Sussman_Letter_to_Mayor_Bill_de_Blasio_NYCHA_RAD_Conversions.pdf.
Amongst the issues Sussman has complained to Mayor de Blasio about the new Lease Agreement, include, but are not limited to :
- There are numerous provisions that permit a RAD Landlord to passthrough costs to public housing residents, many of whom live on low- or fixed-incomes, including the cost of utilities (which are now paid for NYCHA), thus leading to an increase in effective rents ;
- There is language that gives the RAD Landlord an out in respect of the provision of basic standards of habitability, which should be offensive to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, since Federal prosecutors first began their investigation into NYCHA in 2016 due widepsread violations of physical condition standards ;
- RAD will eliminate the existence of tenant-based rental assistance vouchers (which are portable) and replace them with project-based rental assistance vouchers (which are not portable). This will make it complicated or nearly impossible for public housing residents to be able to find better or larger apartments, or better locations ; and
- Tenants have fears that other provisions in the Lease Agreement will make it easier for RAD Landlords to evict residents.
“The ongoing RAD conversions have failed to produce tangible and significant gains for residents of public housing,” said Sussman, adding that, “The lease proposed for residents includes onerous provisions which are financially disadvantageous to existing tenants and give new management increased leverage over their lives. What is needed is a national commitment to supporting those tenants who qualify for public housing without sacrificing their existing status and rights.”
Assemblymember Harvey Epstein (D-74th District), who has sponsored legislation to make formal a legal procedure for the disposition of public housing assets, said, “I stand with tenants at 344 East 28th Street and tenants around New York City to oppose RAD and privatization of public housing ! We need a plan to protect those apartments for generations to come.”
The revelation that HUD can permit the deregulation of public housing apartments, in addition to the many problems note about the Lease Agreement, make RAD wholly unacceptable, say other members of the group, Fight For NYCHA.
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