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

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.