We got this : The New York City economy is under pressure from the pandemic, and our easy economic boycott can force politicians to do right by NYCHA

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to put pressure on the New York City economy, and our stay-at-home one day a week boycott can add to the stress of neoliberal politicians.

With Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) reportedly having passed a Budget Reconciliation that may include the funding to finally end the Federal Government’s racist divestment of public housing, we can say that the fight to save NYCHA may, at first blush, appear, with some qualifications, to be approaching an end. There still remains a big question about whether the Democrats are actually united behind a new era of economic justice, since Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has said she opposes the $3.5 trillion spending measure.

Before we celebrate prematurely, let’s review how we got here. The U.S. Attorney’s Office began an investigation into the filing of false Federal lead paint certifications by NYCHA. The conclusion of that probe revealed a pattern or practise of routine neglect by NYCHA officials, and a habit of lies and deception. There was a lot of fake outrage, but there was little scrutiny focused on the Mayor, who appoints the top officials at NYCHA and who treats the public housing authority as a political patronage dumping ground.

The pennies-on-the-dollar Settlement Agreement that was the fruit of the Federal investigation into NYCHA created loopholes big enough for ongoing and continuing superclusters of corruption, like reports of fraud in the removal of lead paint, to cross over the event horizon into a supermassive black hole of an unaccountable bureaucracy.

At every turn, the movement to stop the sale of strategic public assets has been met with opposition, sabotage, or indifference. Our pro se litigation and, later, our amicus brief, were either thrown out by or not considered in the Courts. Politicians know how hard it is to organise NYCHA residents into a sustained social movement for economic justice. It’s very easy for them to divide tenants against each other with the appearance of political access or the never ending false promises of resident management corporations. Professional nonprofits or unprincipled activists with sectarian motives have, at times, aided dishonest politicians in this regard. But we have found a way forward !

The New York City economy is weakening due to the Delta variant, and this sets us up for the success of our economic boycott.

We admit we have had trouble in organising NYCHA residents. Our work at Fulton Houses and Elliott-Chelsea were undermined by politicians, including Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City). The president of the resident council at Fulton Houses misled residents into believing that RAD/PACT would be in their best interest, and he was caught tearing down our flyers, interfering with tenant organising, which is unlawful, according to the Fair Housing Act protections against retaliation. Later, tenants were mislead into believing that forming a resident management corporation would be financially or politically possible, when it was neither. Other “community groups” deliberately mislead public housing residents into deëscalating any criticism of elected officials. In the end, RAD/PACT has almost become a fait accompli, since Mayor de Blasio has reportedly succeeded in issuing a Request For Proposal for the RAD/PACT conversion of the last parcels of public housing in the gentrified Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea.

Disreputable individuals used the pandemic to scare residents from participating in protests against then-Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss over her role in countenancing the allegations of abuse and corruption of RAD/PACT conversions. Marches against elected officials didn’t draw enough support from public housing residents, either, because community groups allied with elected officials wrongly informed residents that the Green New Deal would save them, when there was no reality to that proposition, either.

When all looked lost, it became apparent that doing nothing was the only thing we should be aiming for. During the pandemic, wildcat strikes took place as essential workers demanded personal protective equipment (PPE), paid sick leave, and health insurance benefits, amongst other demands. Expecting something larger than walkouts from labour unions is probably unrealistic, since they now largely act as get-out-the-vote operations for the Democratic Party. The true beginnings of a general strike must come from a non-union context, namely, from people experiencing extreme forms of economic oppression.

That is why Fight For NYCHA is putting our faith in residents, who intuitively know that the pandemic is not over and that the Government is seeking to continue the era of racial disparities into the future. Given all the sectarianism we’ve witnessed in public housing organising in the last two years, the political ideologies that have coöpted NYCHA organising can support the concept of a general strike against a capitalist economy that is exploitative and creates the kind of economic inequality that is experienced by NYCHA public housing residents.

Join our general strike !

With news that Mayor de Blasio has been so neglectful about the out-of-control Delta variant that the New York City economy has been driven into a proverbial ditch, we are closer to being able to convince the Government that it would be in their best interest to meet our demands for economic justice, i.e., passage of H.R.235, the fully-fund public housing bill that could put an end to the privatisation of public housing. Whereas we are focused on saving public housing, we can still build solidarity with others. We’ve already opposed vaccine passports as a way to oppose invasions of privacy and to uphold a respect for people’s right to self-determine their own medical treatment. Not coïncidentally, this position also proposes to slow down the restart of the economy.

How to join our general strike. It’s within our reach to keep us safe. Just pledge to : (i). stay home at least one day a week to decrease community spread of the Coronavirus, (ii). call 311 to request both KN95 face masks and meal deliveries from food banks, and (iii). follow Fight For NYCHA on Facebook and Twitter for more information. We will be holding a Zoom meeting soon. Stay tuned.

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

Fulton Houses tenants elect independent officers, announce next meeting, plan next action

Fight For NYCHA co-hosts an important meeting to offer autonomy and structure to Fulton Houses residents.

At an action-planning meeting held on Saturday, 11 May, tenants of Fulton Houses made several agreements that would serve as a foundation for advocacy work to save public housing in Chelsea from being demolished and from being put into the hands of private landlords.

  • Since NYCHA is comprised of 90% Black and Latinx families, this means that the politicians, who are supporting each of the demolition of buildings at Fulton Houses and the putting of public housing into the hands of private developers, are making a political calculation that they can exploit the very visible minorities, who are public housing tenants.
  • Politicians supporting the plans announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) to demolish public housing apartment buildings and to put public housing into the hands of private landlords, are keeping quiet about the racial implications of their actions or support.
  • We must stand united in saying that what Mayor de Blasio and his supporters are doing is wrong.
  • Unless elected officials join us in this fight, we must be prepared to challenge those elected officials.
  • The processes we undertake together must have integrity, and this means that Fulton Houses tenants must agree. This also means that we cannot allow anybody to disrupt or distract or bring outside politics into the fight to save Fulton Houses or NYCHA. Fulton Houses tenants agreed that if anybody tried to derail our agenda, they would support asking that person to leave.
  • It was important to make clear that for any new, independent tenants’ associations elections that may take place for the Fulton Houses, only Fulton Houses tenants may vote.
  • Any groups wishing to show up to our events must :
    • oppose each of the demolition of apartment buildings and the RAD conversion of Fulton Houses ;
    • call-out Mayor de Blasio and his supporters ; and
    • oppose the racism of RAD and the divestment of public housing.

Civil rights attorney Norman Siegel spoke to Fulton Houses tenants about the importance of “keeping public housing public.”

Mary, left, and Jackie were elected as president and vice-president of an independent tenants association.

Amelia was elected as secretary of an independent tenants association of Fulton Houses.

Next steps

Fight For NYCHA will hold a follow-up meeting on Saturday, 18 May, at 3 pm at the same location. Tenants and activists have agreed on the first action, the plans for which will be finalised on the date of our next meeting.

Fulton Houses tenants hold protest to stop demolition, RAD conversion

We Must Save NYCHA !

Fulton Houses Tenant President Miguel Acevedo couldn’t keep his 37 shift stories straight about the demolition and RAD conversion of Fulton Houses

Fulton Housing tenants are receiving scary letters from elected officials at the same time NYCHA is offering them buy-outs to leave their apartments.

A group of corporate Democrats, ranging from U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY 10), Borough President Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan), New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea), New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Chelsea), and New York Assemblymember Richard Gottfried (D-Chelsea), co-signed a letter to New York City Housing Authority Interim Chair and CEO Kathryn Garcia, asking that NYCHA consult with Fulton Houses tenants about plans announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) to demolish two apartment buildings and to put up majority market-rate luxury apartment buildings on the site of Fulton Houses.

Activists have warned Fulton Houses tenants that the consultation is a trap, since none of the public officials have neither publicly opposed the demolition of public housing buildings, nor publicly opposed the RAD conversion of public housing. Under RAD, public housing is put into the hands of private landlords, thereby turning public housing into a for-profit business. A consultation without opposition to the Mayor de Blasio’s plan would count toward the approval of Mayor de Blasio’s plan.

Following the protest, Fulton Houses Tenant President Miguel Acevedo was confronted about his refusal to forcefully oppose the demolition and RAD conversion of Fulton Houses. He changed his story at least 37 different times, according to a video of one part of the exchange.

Fulton Houses rally to stop demolition and RAD conversion

NYCHA Residents Fight Eviction Plan

Norman Siegel, famous civil rights attorney, counseled public housing tenants on their rights

Public housing tenants received valuable legal advice about strategy from Norman Siegel, a civil rights attorney and the former Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Video is courtesy of Mike McCabe of OccupyRadio.net on YouTube.

Press Conference to stop RAD conversion of Fulton Houses

#A28 Fight For NYCHA Press Conference

Join us for a press conference to speak out against the private landlord take-over of the Fulton Houses.

DATE : Sunday, April 28, 2019

TIME : 1:30 pm

PLACE : Fulton Houses, 119 9th Ave, Manhattan

RSVP : Press Conference against RAD Conversion of NYCHA [Facebook]

If you received a call from us, here is the WNYC report we promised to make available to you. Please listen carefully :

NYCHA Hires Private ‘Slumlord’ to Run Public Housing

RAD is a bad deal for NYCHA tenants

City-wide, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) has announced plans to convert 62,000 NYCHA apartments, allowing private landlords to control public housing. But the RAD program he wants to use can increase the rent, lead to tenant harassment and exploitation, the possibility of rescreeing, and, possibly, evictions.

In particular, we question how Mayor de Blasio can be disposing real property in the Fulton Houses when Borough President Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) has sued to stop the lease/sale/development at the Holmes Towers in the Upper East Side. How can Mayor de Blasio be doing this in Chelsea when there is a pending Court case about the lease/sale/development of NYCHA ?

If NYCHA tenants are evicted, or lose their lease due to rescreenings, they will have no place to go. Housing Court evictions effectively bar tenants from renting from private sector landlords. Since New York City severely lacks low-cost housing, it is conceivable that NYCHA tenants may face homelessness due to the RAD conversion of public housing.

RSVP : Press Conference against RAD Conversion of NYCHA [Facebook]

Fight For NYCHA, Community Control of Land Use New York, and Not One More Block are co-sponsoring this press conference.