Fight For NYCHA filed amicus curiae application in Baez class action mold case

Civil rights attorney Michael Sussman, applied to U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley III to accept Fight For NYCHA as amicus curiae in the Baez class action mold case.

After Plaintiffs in the Baez class action mold abatement case learned that the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, planned on using the disposition of public housing under the controversial programmes as an excuse to abandon NYCHA’s obligations to provide habitable living conditions to residents, issues about the controversial conversion programmes, known as Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD, and Permanent Affordability Commitment Together, or PACT, came to the fore in the class action case.

However, the Parties to the case, as will as their counsel, were unable to answer many questions before U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley III during Oral Arguments over a motion filed by the Baez Plaintiffs to compel the application of the Revised Consent Decree in that case on public housing developments that NYCHA had converted under RAD/PACT. The motion papers also referenced the RAD/PACT conversion of the Manhattan Bundle, which included the public housing development located at 344 East 28th Street in Kips Bay, Manhattan. Plaintiffs’ and Defendant’s counsel attempted to speak to issues of RAD/PACT conversion, but the source of Federal rental assistance was not a selection factor in the Court’s certification of the class of residents represented by Plaintiffs’ counsel. Some members of Fight For NYCHA resident at 344 East 28th Street, and they were in the best position to offer critical information for the Court, but their interests were not properly represented during the motion practise before the Court, particularly since at least one member of Fight For NYCHA was a third party beneficiary of the Revised Consent Decree in Baez, which Defendant NYCHA was attempting to deny residents of RAD/PACT-converted housing.

The lack of adequate counsel to properly represent the interests of public housing residents following RAD/PACT conversions placed public housing residents in jeopardy, and that required the intervention of members of Fight For NYCHA, who were solely able to answer the Court’s questions about RAD/PACT. As a result, civil rights attorney Michael Sussman sought leave from the Court to submit a letter, providing information, answering questions that were before the Court, and promising further assistance with the Court’s permission.

The Parties in Baez complied with the Scheduling Order set by the Court to complete the submission of motion papers, and Fight For NYCHA’s letter, informally referred to as an amicus curiae, was submitted to the Court. The Parties await a decision by Judge Pauley III on Plaintiffs’ motion.

The amicus curiae was also seen as a required move by members of Fight For NYCHA, since many other groups which purport to be “NYCHA preservation groups,” like Movement School, refuse to challenge the privatisation of public housing by Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC). That refusal has misled public housing residents into believing that Elected Officials are on their side. This disinformation has permitted politicians, like U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY 14), who permits organising for Movement School out of her office like a nonprofit political arm, to exploit public housing residents out of political expediency. The political deception has been made worse by the attempts of some unscrupulous groups, like Justice For All Coälition, to offer low-impact methods, such as petitions, as viable forms of activism to save public housing, despite the urgency revealed in the Baez case, where facts were submitted to the Court that the de Blasio administration was acting to end all Section 9 public housing “soon” with dire implications for public housing residents.

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#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.

President Trump can dismiss U.S. Attorneys without cause. But Trump has cause to fire Audrey Strauss for failing NYCHA public housing residents.

Audrey Strauss is a do-nothing “Acting” U.S. Attorney, and she is countenancing Bill de Blasio’s breach of the HUD Settlement Agreement with NYCHA.

Shortly after the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in New York City, the political gossip Web site POLITICO published a report, noting that the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) was in violation of the Settlement Agreement between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, and the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA (… “with the onset of the [C]oronavirus, [NYCHA] workers have stopped doing annual inspections of properties required by” HUD, and NYCHA “… is limiting lead inspections to the universe of properties already known to have both lead paint and children under six years of age. … That has thrown the [C]ity out of compliance with a [F]ederal [S]ettlement [A]greement.”).

That the de Blasio administration was able to within the first weeks of the confinement to breach the HUD Settlement Agreement with NYCHA means that he is delaying the addressing of one healthcare crisis (say, lead paint poisoning) for the potential of another (Coronavirus infection).

The breach of the HUD Settlement Agreement less than one year since it was inked should have enraged NYCHA residents, but the corrupt mayor has engaged in obfuscation by taking the public’s focus off of long-term healthcare endangerment to tenants caused by lead poisoning, and he has proposed, in its stead, the free delivery of meals, the purchase of inexpensive Android tablets, and the distribution of at least some air conditioning units for senior citizens living in public housing. That was enough of a give-away to distract, confuse, or buy-off some tenants and many NYCHA “preservation groups” into going alongst with the mayor’s grand prize game, thereby taking the heat off the mayor’s violation of the HUD Settlement Agreement.

Audrey Strauss should know better than to go alongst with this charade. Donald Trump put NYCHA front-and-centre at the RNC. If he really cares about NYCHA, then he should fire Audrey Strauss.

Audrey Strauss is an entitled former C-suite executive of a large mineral mining conglomerate. She has already made one turn through the revolving door between Government and Big Business, and now she heads the self-styled “most influential” U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Nation. With all the pretense that goes alongst with such a job, Audrey Strauss is clearly demonstrating how S.D.N.Y., as her office is sometimes known, engages in selective prosecution. The mayor has violated the Settlement Agreement for a case that Audrey Strauss’s predecessor called the most important on his office’s docket, and Audrey Strauss is signaling that there will be no consequence to Mayor de Blasio over his breach of the Settlement Agreement.

The violation of the Settlement Agreement puts the lives of public housing residents in danger. For such reckless abandon of the trust the public is supposed to vest in S.D.N.Y., Audrey Strauss must be removed from office.

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