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).

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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.

Source Document

Andrew Yang is keeping quiet, as Bill de Blasio wrecks NYCHA in his last year with RAD/PACT and the Blueprint

Andrew Yang is letting Bill de Blasio privatise NYCHA public housing with RAD/PACT and Blueprint. This is dangerous !

When tech industry titan Andrew Yang finally announced he was running for mayor, he had within his reach powerful political and public relations consultants. These people exert a great deal of influence over the media, who regularly reprint press releases sent to them by expensive consultants. These presstitutes, as they are called, have provided Yang with a bonanza of free media hits.

Yang can’t tell a bodega from a Whole Foods supermarket, and he often gives wrong subway directions. His handlers hope that if he creates the impression of a bumbling idiot, that voters will think that he’s harmless. But Yang is anything but harmless.

Yang has proposed cutting off housing vouchers and “consolidating some welfare programs,” and replace them with a Mickey Mouse universal basic income (“UBI”) plan that the New York Times called “a Trojan Horse” to shred the social safety net.

What most dangerous about Yang is that he’s intentionally staying silent as Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) wrecks NYCHA public housing with the privatisation schemes known as RAD/PACT and the Blueprint. NYCHA has gone into Court and admitted before U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley III that NYCHA intends to end all obligations to providing public housing residents with safe and sanitary housing after RAD/PACT and Blueprint conversions. The threat that public housing residents face is imminent.

That Yang keeps quiet means he’s hoping Mayor de Blasio will finish off NYCHA in his last year in office, so there’s nothing left but RAD/PACT eviction notices for Yang to hand out, should he become the next mayor. We can’t allow this to happen !

Andrew Yang’s UBI plan is a Trojan Horse to shred the social safety net ; He’s a “Liar, Liar, Privatizer” !

Andrew Yang’s proposal for a $1,000 universial basic income comes with strings, like having to give up housing vouchers. His UBI plan is “a Trojan Horse” to shred the social safety net.

At our protest yesterday, public housing residents, housing activists, and members of Fight For NYCHA denounced Democratic Party primary candidate for New York City mayor, Andrew Yang. He has proposed a $1,000 Universal Basic Income (“UBI”) plan that has been attacked by critics.

Bryce Covert is an independent journalist and a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. In an editorial published by the Times last week, Ms. Covert reported that Mr. Yang plans to pay for his UBI plan, in part, by “consolidating some welfare programs.” Amongst the social support that Mr. Yang would force recipients of his basic income to forego would include housing vouchers. This aspect of Mr. Yang’s plan is racist and classist. Based on this “trade-off” alone, we cannot afford Mr. Yang as mayor.

Not only do housing vouchers keep people in their homes, but they also cap tenants’ rent at 30% of their incomes, like those lucky enough to receive Section 8 rental assistance vouchers. Furthermore, people receiving Section 8 rental assistance vouchers also receive civil rights protections under the Fair Housing Act. No basic income should eliminate rent caps or deny recipients civil rights protections.

Based on the danger that Mr. Yang’s UBI plan represents, our protest called out Mr. Yang. We also noted how Mr. Yang had yet to denounce the plan by Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) to sell-out NYCHA public housing with RAD/PACT and the Blueprint.

Andrew Yang is a liar, liar, privatizer !

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Protest on 34th Street, hoping for a miracle this Holiday Season to stop RAD conversions of NYCHA public housing

Banner protest in front of Macy’s Herald Square flagship store

Activists trying to save public housing from privatisation protested in front of Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square in Manhattan on Sunday afternoon. Using a bullhorn, the activists announced that Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) was planning on ending public housing as we know it. One of the activists speaking was a resident of a public housing apartment building, which faced privatisation on 30 November 2020, when her building would join 15 other complexes in a privatisation scheme known as Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD. The activists described some of the dangers and risks of eviction, rent hikes, and other forms of civil rights violations typical of privatisation schemes. One previously unknown risk includes the ability of a RAD Landlord to petition the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to deregulate public housing apartments, should apartment buildings not generate enough profits for greedy, private-sector landlords, as was revealed in a press release issued the Fight For NYCHA.

Protesting to save public housing

Protesters demonstrated in front of Macy's flagship store on 34th Street-Herald Square in Manhattan to stop the privatisation of NYCHA public housing by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

#SDNY close the door on #NYCHA activists seeking last-resort help to stop unlawful #RAD conversions

The U.S. Attorney’s Office oversees the NYCHA Settlement Agreement that was supposed to save NYCHA — not sell it out.

Security guards at the U.S. Attorney’s Office turned away NYCHA activists who had showed up at their doorstep on Wednesday, denying them a requested meeting with Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss. The activists included Melanie Aucello, the president of the resident association of the NYCHA public housing apartment building at 344 East 28th Street in Manhattan.

Residents at NYCHA apartment buildings have been being pressured into signing leases with private sector landlords under a neoliberal Federal scheme known as Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD, that has been shown to lead to evictions and other civil rights violations. At one Kips Bay apartment building, where Ms. Aucello lives, the lease signings have been taking place without translated documents for some residents, who only speak foreign languages, and the residents have been denied the benefit of a full review of lease documents by their counsel, Manhattan Legal Services.

Speaking of RAD conversions, Ms. Aucello said, “We demand a moratorium.”

The exchange between the activists and security guards for the U.S. Attorney’s Office became heated at times. “Please don’t turn us away,” Ms. Aucello said. A member of Fight For NYCHA added, “We’ve been turned away and ignored by the Mayor, by Gale Brewer, by everybody. Even AOC threw us under the bus.”

One security guard provided blank complaint forms to Ms. Aucello. Ultimately, the security guards closed their door to the activists.

Is Acting U.S. Attorney Strauss a cold-hearted functionary ?

On Tuesday, the activists were interviewed by WBAI about a protest that took place at the Kips Bay apartment building on Monday. The Kips Bay apartment building is one of 16 apartment complexes that faces almost imminent RAD conversion. In total, Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) plans to put 60,000 public housing apartments into the RAD scheme, dealing a severe blow to the future of Section 9 public housing. So far, many so-called “progressive” groups have refused to express any criticism of Mayor de Blasio’s dangerous bid to end public housing as we know it.

Sleep-out protest announced to highlight ongoing and continuing breach by the de Blasio administration of NYCHA-HUD Settlement Agreement

Join NYCHA tenants and activists, who are protesting Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey (the “Queen of Mean”) Strauss, who is countenancing the horrifying conditions at NYCHA. Even though Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) has breached the HUD Settlement Agreement, Audrey Strauss does nothing about it.

Well, not anymore.

We will be sleeping for one night outside of the do-nothing Acting U.S. Attorney’s office. During the night, we will plan how to participate in a #GeneralStrike. We hope our actions will compel Audrey Strauss to do the right thing and to force the mayor to begin depositing money with the U.S. District Court that will begin to pay for long-over due repairs at NYCHA, beginning with a plan to upgrade all heat this winter.

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara began the Federal investigation in NYCHA to bring about justice for public housing residents. And here comes along Audrey Strauss, and she’s willing to let Preet Bharara’s work lapse under more neglect. This represents a breach of public trust.

For our protest, not everybody needs to sleep outside with us. Anybody can join us for a meeting beginning that evening at 6 pm.

For those willing to spend the night with us outside, please bring a sleeping bag, some toiletries, and whatever food or water you may need.

Join us for a planning meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 9, so we can prepare for our sleep-out protest.

R.S.V.P. to our Sleep-out Protest

NYU student newspaper publishes editorial critical of RAD, finding that the privatisation of public housing has been “proven to be a disaster for tenants in other states”

“NYCHA residents continue to be put in dangerous conditions.”

“As the city tries to put public housing in the hands of private landlords, the actual tenants amount to no more than an afterthought, even as they are being forced into unsafe conditions.”

NYU student newspaper published a courageous editorial by Asha Ramachandran in which she expressed criticism of RAD, finding that the privatisation of public housing has been “proven to be a disaster for tenants in other states.” Even though New York City faces a housing crisis, “only 3.7% of New York City’s $95 billion budget is allotted for housing.”

Excerpt :

What NYCHA desperately needs is billions of dollars in funding in the state budget specifically devoted to fixing public housing units and giving residents the protections that are long overdue. Organizations like Fight For NYCHA and The Legal Aid Society have organized and represented NYCHA tenants in court and enlisted city council members, and have held demonstrations and town halls trying to achieve this.

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Daily News publishes editorial by Fight For NYCHA member

The caption to this photograph in the New York Daily News called Mayor Bill de Blasio a “Sellout” on NYCHA.

Bill de Blasio : Sellout on NYCHA ?
Bill de Blasio was called a "Sellout" on NYCHA by the Editorial Page of the New York Daily News.

RAD is a raw deal for NYCHA that we must refuse

The New York Daily News published a guest editorial by a Fight For NYCHA member, making a strong case why New Yorkers must reject plans by Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) to expand on his use of HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration programme that will put public housing into a nightmarish “public-private partnership.”

The editorial was notable for exposing the dangers of RAD, for revealing that U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman put NYCHA residents at risk for losing Federal monitorship once their public housing apartment complexes undergo RAD conversion, and the need to stop RAD so that other leaders, such as U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY 07), can fight for the full-funding of NYCHA.

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