Updated People’s Budget passes at Fight For NYCHA town hall ; speakers included Michael Sussman, Lindsey Boylan, and Howie Hawkins

Lindsey Boylan, Howie Hawkins, and Michael Sussman

The People’s Budget was updated without any objection ; over $440 billion in readily-available funding, three ideas of which are legislation-ready ; monies can fully-fund public housing and new Government policy on justice and dignity.

Approx. 50 people attended the Fight For NYCHA town hall meeting at P.S. 33 on Wed., Feb. 5. At the meeting, participants heard a legal analysis of the plans by Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) to continue to spread gentrification across the City. Civil rights attorney Michael Sussman addressed the audience by describing, in essence, what helped him win a lawsuit to overturn the unlawful rezoning of the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan.

The town hall meeting was called so that New York City Housing Authority residents could weigh in on a proposal to update the People’s Budget with two line-items. The People’s Budget is a package of ideas to increase taxes on the wealthy and on corporations in order to fund new Government policy on housing, justice, and dignity for all New Yorkers. The two line items that were added were the estimated $19 billion cost for constructing Sunnyside Yards and H.R. 4546 – Public Housing Emergency Response Act, draft legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY 07) that would provide $70 billion to fund capital repairs for public housing nationwide, of which $32 billion would be directed to NYCHA.

Speakers at the town hall meeting included Lindsey Boylan, a Congressional candidate for New York’s 10th Congressional District, and Howie Hawkins, the Green Party presidential primary candidate.

Attorney Michael Sussman said that the de Blasio administration cannot do whatever it wants to public housing. The impact of those decisions must be studied before they can be carried-out.

Michael Sussman
Famed civil rights attorney Michael Sussman addressed the Fight For NYCHA town hall meeting.

Lindsey Boylan is running for office to challenge the incumbent Congressional Representative, who has failed to show leadership to save public housing in New York’s 10th Congressional District.

Lindsey Boylan
Congressional candidate Lindsey Boylan addressed the Fight For NYCHA town hall meeting.

Green Party presidential primary candidate Howie Hawkins said that taxes must be increased on the wealthy to fully-fund public housing across the United States.

Howie Hawkins
Green Party presidential primary candidate Howie Hawkins addressed the Fight For NYCHA town hall meeting.

The Fight For NYCHA complaint filed in Federal Court was thrown out.

The town hall began with a brief update, explaining that the Complaint filed in U.S. District Court for New York’s southern district, was dismissed by the establishment chief judge, the Hon. Justice Colleen McMahon.

Recommended Reading

Source Documents

Next Fight For NYCHA Town Hall : Wednesday, Feb. 5 at P.S. 33

Important meeting of public housing residents in Chelsea.

The NYCHA preservation group, Fight For NYCHA, is holding its next town hall gathering to provide important updates.

The preliminary agenda has been released :

1/. Update about our lawsuit ;

2/. Update about the People’s Budget ; and

3/.  Legislation to provide funding to NYCHA.

A very special guest will address the town hall.

Date : Wed., Feb. 5, 2020

Time : 6:30 pm

Place : P.S. 33, Chelsea

R.S.V.P. : Fight For NYCHA Town Hall [Facebook]

NYCHA RAD lease reveals that tenants legally accept Section 8 apartments “as is,” potentially precluding complaints about conditions, compensation over injuries

Landlords argue that when tenants accepted apartments “as is,” tenants accept dangerous conditions on the property and are thus precluded from suing landlords over dangerous conditions.

After the New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA”) canceled without any advance notice a 18 Dec. 2019, meeting between tenants of 572 Warren Street and their new RAD Landlord, NYCHA ultimately rescheduled that meeting for 21 Jan. 2020, at the Wyckoff Community Center in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

At last night’s meeting, NYCHA pro-RAD functionary Leroy Williams, who has run afoul of Government transparency advocates, conducted the meeting. Members of Fight For NYCHA were there and were able to obtain several documents that show for the first time that NYCHA considers RAD to be “partial privatization,” a term that the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) had previously rejected. A representative of Arker Companies, the RAD Landlord, addressed the tenants.

RAD stands for Rental Assistance Demonstration, an Orwellian name given to an Obama administration housing program that turns public housing into one of those nightmarish “public-private partnerships.” RAD has been shown to lead to higher rents, an increased incidence of landlord harassment, and upward spikes in evictions.

Reference Documents

Most problematic is that the new RAD Lease that public housing residents are being forced to sign under duress of displacement strong-arms tenants into accepting the uninhabitable conditions of their apartments “as is.”

The Form of the RAD Lease negotiated by NYCHA and the Legal Aid Society contains language that bankers acting as lenders to RAD structured finance transactions had requested or required, according to one RAD Landlord. Whenever an “as is” provision such as this has been written into residential apartment leases, such language has been called an illegal attempt to waive the implied warranty of habitability.

NYCHA residents have been forced to live in uninhabitable apartments with non-working elevators, broken boilers, poisonous lead in drinking water and in household paint, leaks, and toxic mold. The latest crisis public housing residents face are the risks of RAD.

Given that NYCHA residents have been forced to live in public housing apartments that violated Federal regulations for physical condition standards, NYCHA is forcing tenants to accept express waivers of the implied warranty of habitability that case law establishes for residential apartment leases.

A 2015 discussion paper by Harvard Law School student Meirav Furth-Matzkin described “as is” language in residential leases as an example of an “unenforceable disclaimer of the warranty.”

According to the presentation at last night’s meeting at the Wyckoff Community Center, a representative of the new RAD Landlord for 572 Warren Street admitted that NYCHA worked in conjunction with the Legal Aid Society to draft the Form of the RAD Lease, adding that some of the language was requested or required by the RAD bankers acting as lenders to the structured finance transaction.

Rent hikes coming in six months.

An agent of the RAD Landlord also mentioned that the RAD conversion of 572 Warren Street is expected to take place in February 2020. Generally, public housing tenants get recertified for a new lease every 12 months. During recertification, the local public housing authority audits residents’ income in order to claim 30 per cent. of residents’ income as rent. However, the new RAD Landlord at 572 Warren Street is expected to begin recertification process only six months into the RAD conversion, meaning tenants face an accelerated rent increase in 2020.

Defenders of RAD conversions have long claimed that RAD Landlords only profit from tax credit provided for in structured finance transactions. Critics of RAD point to the accelerated rent increases coming to 572 Warren Street residents as an example of RAD Landlords seeking to profit from rent increases extracted from residents living on fixed incomes or very low incomes. Tenants also face a phase-out of services or utilities, which will transfer opportunity costs or expenses directly to residents, thus adding to their rent burden.

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.

Bill de Blasio agrees to meeting with Fight For NYCHA, Fulton tenants, and U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez

de Blasio agrees to meet with Fight For NYCHA

Bill de Blasio was confronted with two options to fully-fund NYCHA : (i). The People’s Budget, and (ii). the Public Housing Emergency Response Act (H.R.4546)

At Mayor Bill de Blasio’s disastrous NYCHA town hall in Chelsea on Thursday, 19 déc 2019, the Mayor was confronted with two options to fully-fund NYCHA : (i) the People’s Budget that proposes new taxes on the rich to fund new Government policy on housing, justice, and dignity for all New Yorkers, and (ii). U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez’s bill, the Public Housing Emergency Response Act (H.R.4546).

Fight For NYCHA have reached out to the office of U.S. Rep. Velázquez to schedule a meeting with Mayor de Blasio.

Read the People’s Budget

Protest outside AOC Woodside town hall

Demand AOC support NYCHA funding this year !

Join us to demand that AOC issue a statement calling for the full-funding of the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, in the next budget cycle. Her green “New Deal” bill for public housing may take years to pass, if it ever comes up for a vote, leaving NYCHA residents vulnerable to heat outages and privatisation now under way.

Date : Saturday, 14 Dec. 2019
Time : 3:30 pm
Place : I.S. 125Q, 46-02 47th Ave, Woodside, Queens
RSVP : Demand AOC support NYCHA funding this year ! [Facebook]

AOC angry by plans that take 30-40 years to save NYCHA, but her green “New Deal” plan takes 10 years to be fully-funded

Without $3 billion in immediate funding, up to 90% of NYCHA tenants are predicted to experience heating outages this winter.

Admittedly, it is noble for U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY 14) to focus on climate change. But she, like French President Emmanuel Macron, bypassed industry and the military in order to extract climate justice outcomes by causing suffering amongst average people.

U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is blind to how her plan makes NYCHA residents wait for basic, but emergency, repairs, like upgrades to heating systems. In a secret video of a remarks she gave to an event, where her campaign bussed NYCHA residents up to the Bronx, U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez attacked plans that took 30-40 years to fully-fund capital repairs at NYCHA. But her own plan takes 10 years to fully-fund its plan.

In all those years, NYCHA tenants can expect to go without basic necessities. For example, without emergency upgrades in heating, NYCHA tenants face another winter where up to 90 per cent. of residents will experience heat outages, according to predictions separately made by Fight For NYCHA and the Legal Aid Society.

AOC’s Green New Deal for Public Housing makes NYCHA tenants wait years for heat

AOC threw NYCHA tenants under the bus. The Movement School is implicated. Now comes the Movement School, claiming they can organise NYCHA.

The failure to introduce a Federal budget resolution requesting $32 billion for NYCHA represents both a lack of moral clarity, and a policy failure.

During her campaign for Congress, and after her election, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY 14) portrayed herself as the antidote to corporate Democrats, who had gone tone-deaf to the suffering of average people. For decades, New Yorkers had been enduring horrifying Government policies set by neoliberalism and austerity. By running for office with help from the Democratic Socialists of America, U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez invoked her subscription to socialist ideology as a primary qualification for public office. Her campaign win was credited to Justice Democrats, a new political committee. Veterans of her campaign reportedly formed an outreach and get-out-the-vote arm of Justice Democrats, known as Movement School. That outreach arm is now engaged in dishonestly organising public housing tenants after U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez turned down a request in March to sponsor a budget resolution to fully-fund the local public housing authority.

Early in 2019, members of Fight For NYCHA approached U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s office with an opportunity for her to show leadership on the need to fully-fund the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, as the local public housing authority is known. Members of Fight For NYCHA had e-mail exchanges and several calls with staff, as well as in-office meeting with staff and with U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez herself. At first, Fight For NYCHA was requesting that U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez sponsor a budget resolution for the 2019-2020 Federal Budget in the full amount of NYCHA’s capital budget deficit, estimated to be $32 billion. Members of Fight For NYCHA described the Government’s divestment and neglect of public housing, and members of Fight For NYCHA noted that, as a result, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) was proposing to privatise public housing. Despite the dangerous conditions facing public housing tenants, the office of U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez turned down the funding request. After that request was turned down, members of Fight For NYCHA requested that U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez sponsor a budget resolution for only half the amount, and Fight For NYCHA members said that they would organise NYCHA tenants and request the remainder of the funding from City and State Governments. But that second request was also turned down.

On top of feeling betrayed by AOC, as the U.S. Representative is known, members of Fight For NYCHA sensed that AOC’s own political apparatus was going to take advantage of public housing tenants, who had been left unfunded by the socialist political superstar. The telephone discussions about the funding requests took place with Randy Abreu, an AOC Congressional staffer, who was a co-founder of Movement School. What members of Fight For NYCHA found troubling was that, on two occasions, Abreu said that, in the wake of U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez turning down the funding requests, Movement School would organise NYCHA public housing tenants. After AOC consulted with her staff on the budget resolution request, and after they made a decision to turn down the budget resolution request, Movement School was going to use the decision of their own making (the refusal to sponsor a budget resolution to fully-fund NYCHA) as a pretext to do outreach and recruiting for Justice Democrats.

Does Movement School have to lie to NYCHA tenants before Movement School can gain their trust ?

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY 14) has turned her back on NYCHA.

Before negotiations began with the co-founder of Movement School, AOC’s senior counsel, Dan Riffle, announced that U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was co-sponsoring emergency funding for NYCHA that never materialised. Riffle next promised that U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s office would never support any plan that would “privatize NYCHA.” Since AOC would later refuse to denounce the mayor’s privatisation plan for NYCHA, she would betray her promise to oppose any privatisation of NYCHA.

These discussions took place in March. One month later, Mayor de Blasio announced a plan that would include the first-of-its-kind demolition of public housing and the scaling up of the use of a controversial programme known as Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD. Under RAD, the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development approves the transfer of management of public housing developments to private landlords. As Fight For NYCHA has argued, RAD leads to rent hikes, increased allegations of tenant harassment and discrimination, and higher eviction rates. With 90 per cent. of NYCHA tenants being people of colour, these changes to public housing policies would disproportionately affect people based on race. Under the disparate-impact rule of the Fair Housing Act, any housing policy that leads to a disparate-impact based on race is discriminatory and, as a consequence, unlawful. Despite this unlawfulness, nobody with Movement School, not even Abreu, who was a co-founder, saw anything wrong with the decision by U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s office to refuse to sponsor a budget resolution for NYCHA funding, because their decision to keep NYCHA defunded left a fiscal vacuum seized by Mayor de Blasio as the reason to demolish and privatise public housing.

Months after declining to sponsor a NYCHA budget resolution in Congress, AOC refuses to denounce RAD.

Five months after public housing funding discussions broke down between Fight For NYCHA and U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s office, AOC spearheaded a Bronx townhall dedicated to NYCHA. AOC’s staff went through the motions of inviting Fight For NYCHA members, but members would only be tolerated as guests, and would not be given any dedicated speaking time. Under such conditions, members of Fight For NYCHA refused to attend, fearing that attendance would only be used to validate unknown policy positions.

True to those concerns, U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez refused to address at her NYCHA townhall whether she supported Mayor de Blasio’s embrace of RAD to privatize NYCHA public housing, according to a tweet posted by a reporter for the New York Times.

U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s refusal to denounce RAD was seen by many as an abdication of leadership, at best, or complicity with the privatisation of NYCHA public housing, at worst.

AOC’s refusal to provide crucial, early support to the idea that NYCHA needed to be fully-funded represented a betrayal of her socialist ideology. Because NYCHA public housing is social housing, U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s refusal to support the full-funding of social housing meant that the private sector would begin to transform both the rent paid by public housing tenants and the value of strategic public assets into sources of profit for certain participants of the real estate industry. It is not known if that was the transformation AOC sought to bring about whilst in office.

AOC uses her office to protect party leaders, not to fight for the people.

AOC and Movement School turn blind eyes to repeated press reports, alleging corruption of Mayor de Blasio’s housing policies, including the disposition of public housing assets.

Relentless press reports make showings that Mayor de Blasio’s housing policies have been allegedly encumbered by conflicts of interest, appearances of pay-to-play corruption, and favours to campaign donors. In response, U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Movement School have remained mum. Their silence in the face of questionable changes in City housing policy and the possible disposition of public housing assets casts doubt on their judgment and intentions, particularly in respect of NYCHA’s future.

NYCHA tenants are living in uninhabitable conditions — with lead paint that is poisoning, and impeding the development of, children ; toxic mold and mildew ; broken elevators ; heat and hot water outages ; and other building or code violations — and the only solution is the provision of full-funding to make the capital repairs to public housing to restore humane living conditions to NYCHA tenants.

What is true that U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign overlapped with Movement School, and that one of her policy advisors in New York was a co-founder of Movement School, and that policy advisor relayed the decision not to support a budget resolution seeking to fully-fund NYCHA this Fiscal Year before announcing that Movement School would, in that vacuum, organise public housing tenants. It is clear that, in dealing with AOC, one is facing an intertwined campaign-Congressional office-outreach arm of Justice Democrats apparatus. How can NYCHA tenants trust this apparatus to organise public housing tenants in New York when, in their judgement, there was nothing wrong in throwing NYCHA tenants under the bus ?

When Movement School recruits NYCHA tenants as outreach for Justice Democratis, it is not known if Movement School admits to the truth about how it was involved in AOC’s decision to turn down the funding request for NYCHA, or if Movement School has to lie about its role.

NYCHA Tenants, Activists Held A Press Conference, Protesting the Lack of Democracy of, and the Exclusion of Many from, de Blasio’s NYCHA Working Group

In what could be a first in New York City, NYCHA tenants and activists heckled Greg Russ, the public housing authority chair.

NYCHA tenants and activists heckled Greg Russ, the new chair of the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA. The confrontation took place outside of PS 33 in Cheslea on Tuesday night after NYCHA tenants and activists from Fight For NYCHA, Holmes-Isaacs Coälition, and Justice For All Coälition had concluded their press conference, denouncing the Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s NYCHA Working Group.

NYCHA tenants, activists heckle Greg Russ as he tries to sneak into the rigged #WorkingGroup.

Activists confront U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler’s corrupt aide, Robert Atterbury, and call for a primary against Assemblymember Dick Gottfried.

NYCHA tenants also renewed calls for Robert Atterbury to be fired by U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY 10). Activists allege that Atterbury violated New York State’s open meetings’ law when he told a Fight For NYCHA member to leave the first meeting of Mayor de Blasio’s undemocratic NYCHA Working Group.

Tenants and activists also jeered Assemblymember Richard Gottfried (D-New York City), when he tried to sneak into the second meeting of Mayor de Blasio’s NYCHA Working Group.

Fight For NYCHA calls on Jerry Nadler to fire Robert Atterbury for violating democracy, transparency.

NYCHA tenants and activists were denied entry to the secret, closed-door second meeting of the Mayor’s NYCHA Working Group.

NYCHA tenants and activists were denied entry to a public building (PS 33 in Cheslea), and, thus, they were not permitted to attend the proceedings of the second meeting of Mayor de Blasio’s rigged and stacked NYCHA Working Group.

NYCHA tenants, activists bum rush de Blasio’s corrupt NYCHA Working Group at PS33, get locked out.

Complete Facebook Live video

The media and public statements made by NYCHA tenants and activists were broadcast on a Facebook Live stream. Some of the speakers included La Keesha Taylor and Saundrea Coleman from the Holmes-Isaacs Coälition ; Stanely Morse from the Justice For All Coälition ; and Lindsey Boylan, a 2020 Democratic Party primary candidate, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Nadler.