A recovery in New York City most certainly not for us

The call by Mayor Bill de Blasio to reopen the economy, now being rushed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, promises a return to the discriminatory power dynamic and social hierarchy of the past.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) went on State media on Thursday morning to announce by authoritarian dictate that the economy will be fully reopened in New York City by July 1, 2021. “We are ready for stores to open, for businesses to open, offices, theaters, full strength,” the mayor said, according to the City-provided transcript of his on-air remarks.

A fully-reopened economy will mean that the Government can stop providing assistance to compensate people for the racial disparities that were revealed in glaring detail by the Coronavirus pandemic, namely, how the profit-driven healthcare system tolerates racial disparities in healthcare outcomes for people. It means that the free healthcare (the free Coronavirus testing and the free Coronavirus vaccines) will come to an end. It means that the emergency food banks that have been providing people with nutrition due to the rise in joblessness will come to an end. It means that the extensions of unemployment assistance will come to an end. It means that the emergency shelter being provided to people without homes will come to an end. There’s only one goal Mayor de Blasio has : “We’re going to keep driving down COVID through vaccinations.”

On the way to delivering these free vaccinations, Mayor de Blasio has conveniently forgotten about the lip service he paid to racial disparities that were exposed during his two terms in office. In March, the mayor announced the formation of a racial justice commission that was supposed to replace the racial justice commission he had announced last year and which was never formed. Damn the racial justice commission reports, at this point, the mayor just wants to reopen the economy. And Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) was made jealous enough to call for a reopening sooner than July 1.

There’s no thought to end the systemic racism in our society. Even with the healthcare disparities made clear during the Coronavirus pandemic, that didn’t stop Gov. Cuomo from cutting Medicaid, and it hasn’t stopped him from trying to close still yet more hospitals in Brooklyn or Queens. In terms of business, corporate retail giants, like Amazon, Walmart, and Target, saw online sales skyrocket as local, small businesses were forced to close due to the pandemic. The politicians are focused on returning us to an economy with even more disturbing economic inequalities, including higher rates of poverty.

This is one test that reveals how wedded Mayor de Blasio is to systemic racism : His non-stop scheme for RAD/PACT and Blueprint conversions of NYCHA public housing.

Even though Mayor de Blasio was left unindicted following a wide-ranging, Federal corruption investigation into his campaign finance activities and even though Gov. Cuomo faces another round of corruption investigations coupled with an independent counsel investigation into sexual harassment allegations that are, collectively, the subject of an impeachment inquiry, they are the ones making decisions affecting our lives.

Already, a group of New York City parents and teachers filed a lawsuit last December to stop compulsory Coronavirus testing over Fourth Amendment privacy rights, including concerns that DNA samples may wind up in a database without patients’ consent, according to a report published by Gothamist. And Saturday, dozens of municipal employees protested Mayor de Blasio’s demand that 80,000 City workers return to office work this week, according to a report published by the New York Daily News. The mayor’s obsession with reopening the economy flies in the face of the relentless Coronavirus pandemic, which, world-wide, has reached a new peak of deaths and cases, according to a CBS News report broadcast on Sunday.

Of particular concern to New York City Housing Authority residents is Mayor de Blasio’s non-stop push to continue the privatisation of strategic public housing assets. Despite no basis in law, the Government has countenanced Mayor de Blasio’s failure to hold public meetings about his scheme for the the RAD/PACT conversion of public housing. For example, on April 23, the de Blasio administration announced the issuance of a Request For Proposal for the RAD/PACT conversion of the Fulton Houses, Elliott Houses, and Chelsea Houses — the last hold-outs of affordable housing in the gentrified Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea.

Despite resident and community opposition, Mayor de Blasio acts like he cannot be stopped from disposing public assets — even when confronted with a very public effort by U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY 07) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) to fully-fund the backlog of capital repairs across the Nation’s entire public housing stock. U.S. Rep. Velázquez and Sen. Schumer are basically teaming up to promise to end the decades of racist divestment of public housing, but Mayor de Blasio is more concerned with making sure that the economic gears resume their grinding of people of colour and people living with low incomes.

The de Blasio administration suspects that human remains and cultural items belonging to Native American tribes may be buried underneath Williamsburg Houses, but that still didn’t stop him from moving forward with RAD/PACT, in violation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Whether you are dead or alive, Mayor de Blasio believes that the privatisation of our heritage must go on.

No Vaccine Passports until public housing is fully-funded by passage of H.R. 235

We are not going to go along with the reopening of the economy, only to return to the racial disparities that got us here.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) are only interested in reopening the economy before the end of the Coronavirus pandemic so that they can please their Big Business donors. Not only is this dangerous, because new variants of the Coronavirus are unleashing death and suffering in India. We’re not going along with that, especially since they have are doing nothing to end the racial disparities that brought the New York City Housing Authority to the brink of Federal receivership and, thus, to the dangerous push for privatisation. We’re not going back to the era of racist divestment as a pretexte for selling-out strategic public assets !

Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo ignored science and placed our lives in jeopardy at the start of the pandemic, and we’re not about to let them again place our lives — and our housing — in jeopardy in order to manufacture a false end to the pandemic.

Until public housing is fully-funded and a moratorium is placed on all RAD/PACT conversions, we will not participate in any Government scheme that reopens the economy until all racial and economic disparities come to an end at NYCHA.

In order to begin to address the racism that public housing residents, accountability and reform must be brought to the New York Police Department. This means that NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea must resign for deploying the dystopian Robot Dog to public housing. It’s not enough that the military contract for the Robot Dog with Boston Dynamics was cancelled early. There must be accountability for racist over-policing at NYCHA. To ensure structural reform at the NYPD, there must be a pattern and practise civil rights investigation of the troubled police department.

And most importantly, the Public Housing Emergency Response Act (H.R. 235) must be passed and signed into law, which will fund all backlog capital repairs for public housing authorities. Passage of this bill will end the era of racist divestment of public housing. With sponsorship by U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY 07) and support by Leader Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), this bill represents a renewal of the New Deal promise of public housing. This is a structural reform that is long over-due. And this is progressivism at perhaps its highest ideal.

We are not going back to the systemic racism and racial disparities of the de Blasio and Cuomo administrations without structural reforms. We are not participating in any economy that leads to our own exploitation and discrimination.

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).

Exclusive Video

Sen. Schumer teams up with U.S. Rep. Velázquez to renew the New Deal promise of public housing

At a press conference Sunday, Majority Leader Charles Schumer and U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez proposed to more than double President Biden’s funding of public housing.

“For too long, public housing has been neglected, left to get worse, and we’re not going to stand for it anymore,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said during a press conference, announcing a more than doubling of proposed infrastructure spending directed towards the Nation’s public housing stock. The remarks, according to a report broadcast by the WCBS 880 AM Radio station, included a promise that, of the newly proposed funding that was estimated to be in excess of $80 billion, at least half of that would be earmarked for New York — “enough to eliminate the estimated repair backlog for the New York City Housing Authority.”

Fight For NYCHA was on-hand for the press conference. In prepared remarks published by Fight For NYCHA, the group recognised Sen. Schumer and U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY 07).  “Fight For NYCHA are very grateful to Leader Schumer for bringing us together to acknowledge the important role that public housing plays in our society. We must save Section 9 housing as it exists,” adding that, “As we embark on a new progressive era, Leader Schumer and Rep. Velázquez are showing leadership by renewing the New Deal promise of public housing.” Special thanks were given to Fight For NYCHA’s lawyers, Michael Sussman and Thomas Hillgardner. Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was thanked for launching the Federal investigation into the physical condition standards of NYCHA, which renewed urgency to repair public housing. Finally, U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley III was thanked for the years he has spent overseeing NYCHA, attempting to keep the troubled public housing authority honest with its residents.

Resident leaders, including Claudia Perez and Melanie Aucello, called for an end to the use of RAD/PACT to finance public housing authorities.

Last week, Judge Pauley III ruled that the de Blasio administration was permitted to erode the protections of public housing residents, who received tenant protection vouchers following their conversion to RAD/PACT private sector landlords. The ruling revealed that, contrary to what Mayor de Blasio had been promising, tenants’ rights were not protected after RAD/PACT conversion, and that the use of the term tenant protection vouchers amounted to a mere Orwellian name to bamboozle public housing residents into accepting a scheme that facilitated the privatisation of strategic public housing assets.

Notes

  • The photograph of the press conference was first published by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and was shared here under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright laws.

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

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.

Recommended Reading

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

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