Tenants Protest NYCHA Property Plan

Residents blasted the New York City Housing Authority last night for its plan to lease property for private development.  Whether their concerns will have any impact on the final proposal remains to be seen.

Protesters gathered outside Pace University, where the NYCHA hearing was taking place.

Protesters gathered outside Pace University, where the NYCHA hearing was taking place.

NYCHA is required to hold a public hearing on its draft annual plan.  A large number of tenants, including many from Lower East Side developments, came to the session at Pace University to speak out against the agency’s decision to build thousands of units of market-rate housing on property it owns throughout Manhattan.  The plan would impact five public housing projects on the LES, including the Smith, Baruch, La Guardia, Campos Plaza Houses, as well as Meltzer Towers.

While local elected officials and some residents concede that NYCHA must look at its under-utilized property to deal with a critical funding crisis, they object to the way the housing authority has handled the process.  City Council members Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez, who both testified last night, have called for greater transparency and community engagement.  They also disagree with NYCHA’s decision to set aside no more than 20% of the new apartments for affordable housing; they believe there’s an opportunity to build more units for low and middle income New Yorkers.

Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner.

Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner.

There was a side show last night — an appearance before the hearing by scandal-plagued mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner.   He was heckled and also received some cheers after describing a night he and other mayoral hopefuls spent at a public housing project in Harlem.  Mostly, however, the hearing offered an opportunity for tenants to speak their mind.

Both inside and outside the hearing room, there was a strong presence from community activists, including Community Board 3 Chairperson Gigi Li and members of Good Old Lower East Side, the tenant advocacy organization.

nycha hearing 1

nycha hearing 2

NYCHA is on the verge of issuing Requests for proposals from developers for the sites. Its plan must be approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  You can read previous coverage of the controversial proposal here.

 

  • LES resident since 1943

    Now they say they care about the Smith houses…. yet every day I walk by smith there is trash everywhere. I think these plans will improve the area.

  • guestnyc718

    Why protest? People need housing, why not construct it on underutilized NYCHA property? It’s unfortunate a playground may be lost, but there are a number of alternative recreational space near all those selected locations. Most of which are plain grass expanses or parking lots. Ground floor commercial spaces would go a long way to provide services and some jobs too, all while making the area more vibrant with foot traffic. I personally do not want to see any more low income housing in those select areas either. They need diversity in the form of higher income earners. 20% rent controlled units is very reasonable.

  • oh well

    then NYCHA is not doing their job.

  • oh well

    what are they bringing to an already over crowded neighborhood? nothing but more people. the train staions can barely handle the flow of people now imagine with another three 50 story towers in the area. now that the lower east side has become trendy it’s time to push all the poor out. bunch of elitist.
    so wha,t you lose a park so wha,t you lose your parking space. what you get in return is an over crowded neighborhood. the poor are being pushed out of manhattan by people with your mind set.

  • Bowerygals

    How nice! People get to “speak their minds”! Any answers yet on how you get substantive funding from this privatization of public lands? The “leadership” of NYCHA is so dysfunctional (purposeful?) that it can’t even spend the money it has on repairs! What happens after that 99 year lease? Why did NYCHA spend $10 million on a “report” from Boston Consulting Group -Rhea’s former employers- (the Consultants who paved the way for the privatization of the Philadelphia Public School system and the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) plan that displaced a record number of poor tenants from their buildings)?
    The Manhattan Institute, a conservative “Think Tank” applauded the AHA effort and released it’s own
    “suggestions” for how NYCHA could follow the lead of the AHA. With even more open approval of the removal of low income housing. “NYCHA could experiment by starting with those well-located projects for which developers would pay top dollar.”
    Just sayin’

  • Maria-LES

    Gentrification of our neighborhoods that’s all it is. It bad enough our communities are overcrowded and we barely have any playgrounds or space to walk. It’s a disgrace how everyone in the projects are not considered important Valued citizens. Not everyone in the projects are on welfare or drug dealers. We have families we work we go to school. So yes taking away a park is a big deal especially when we are living in crowded conditions. We don’t need anymore high rises that charge a million dollars to rent. This is just another way of pushing out the poor and moving in the wealthy.

  • Lower East Saddness.

    They are now cleaning the area like never before but I think its a lost case. The Poor will never win against the rich. They make it look like you are a winner . I think they should sell those Apartments to those who can afford them but I feel that they just want to break down the old buildings and build high rises. 10 percent of the Smith residents maybe go to meetings? That shows that they don’t care. The residents cant blame NYCHA they have to do there part and they don’t show it.