Bloomberg Passes NYCHA Property Proposal to de Blasio

Residents of public housing will be relieved to know there will be no last-minute agreement between the Bloomberg Administration and a private developer to build market-rate housing on NYCHA property.

Public Housing Residents Tell Bloomberg: “Let De Blasio Decide”

Photo via Smith Houses Facebook page.

Photo via Smith Houses Facebook page.

A social media campaign is in the works this morning to oppose the New York City Housing Authority’s controversial plan to lease some of its property for market-rate development. 

NYCHA Announces Longer Timetable For Market Rate Housing Plan

Six months after a controversial development plan was first revealed, the New York City Housing Authority today put out a “request for expressions of interest” from firms that want to build market rate apartments on public housing property.  But the process has been slowed down in the face of strong opposition.

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.

Opponents of NYCHA Plan Organize For Wednesday Hearing

Tomorrow is a big day for opponents of the New York City Housing Authority’s market rate development plan. 

NYCHA Plans Released: 50-Story Towers Envisioned at Smith Houses

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In spite of strong objections from residents, the New York City Housing Authority is undeterred in its quest to lease public housing property for private development.   The agency yesterday posted on its website “pre-request for proposal” documents and scheduled another round of “engagement meetings” with impacted communities. The revenue-generating proposal would develop sites at five Lower East Side projects.  The real “request for proposals” (RFP) is expected to be released next month.

The documents released show that one site, at the Smith Houses on South Street, would accommodate two 500-foot buildings (that’s 50 stories).  We’ll have more on the plans later. In the meantime, you can have a look for yourself.  Click through for a look at the scheduled meetings on the LES.

Chin, Mendez: NYCHA Should Suspend Leasing Plan, Stop NYPD Payments

File photo; Margaret Chin with Rosie Mendez; CB3 Chairperson Gigi Li also pictured.

File photo; Margaret Chin with Rosie Mendez; CB3 Chairperson Gigi Li also pictured.

City Council members Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez, along with their uptown colleague, Melissa Mark-Viverito, are introducing two proposed resolutions today focused on NYCHA, the New York City Housing Authority.   The first resolution calls on NYCHA to “withdraw from a memorandum of understanding” requiring the agency to pay the police department $73 million for security within the city’s public housing developments.  The second resolution asks the housing authority to hold off on a plan to lease property for market rate development until tenants have acquired legal and technical representation.

NYCHA plans to issue “requests for proposals” at eight housing complexes throughout Manhattan, five of them on the Lower East Side.  The proposal is meant to raise millions of dollars for desperately needed repairs and maintenance.  While most elected officials agree with the decision to lease NYCHA property, they and tenants argue that the housing authority has moved too fast and has failed to adequately solicit feedback from residents.

For many years, tenants have been outraged about the NYPD payments.  The Council members say the money should be diverted to maintenance needs in public housing complexes citywide.  “Our priority must be to find the money in the budget now, not in the future.,” Chin said in a press release. “And in the meantime, NYCHA must come to the table for a real, substantive conversation with the residents about how to pay for future needs. NYCHA residents are our city’s experts on NYCHA and the city ignores their knowledge at great cost to the city.”

The City Council meets this afternoon.  Public housing advocates are gathering at City Hall right now for a large rally.

Tenants at Smith Houses Allege Retaliation by NYCHA; Lawsuit Filed (Updated 5:44 p.m.)

smith houses lawsuit newser

A news conference was held this morning near Robert Wagner Place and Pearl Street.

For the past three years, monthly gas outages have been a way of life at the Alfred E. Smith Houses, a 12-building complex along the East River.   Water damage from a leaky roof has made life miserable for residents of the large public housing complex.  Aixa Torres, Smith’s tenant president, was heartened several months ago when the New York City Housing Authority finally signaled it would begin making desperately needed repairs.  But then something changed, Torres said, and the projects were put on terminal hold.  That “something,” she asserts, was the tenant association’s decision to oppose NYCHA’s plan to build luxury housing on a parking lot and athletic field at Smith.  This morning, tenants, their attorneys and community activists held a news conference to discuss a lawsuit they have filed against the housing authority demanding that repairs be made without delay.

Velazquez Urges Mayor to Pressure Republican Friends on NYCHA Funding

Michael Bloomberg stops to talk with rep. Nydia Velazquez, City Council member Margaret Chin Friday.

Michael Bloomberg stops to talk with rep. Nydia Velazquez, City Council member Margaret Chin Friday.

Last Friday, local elected officials held a news conference outside City Hall, calling on the New York City Housing Authority to take “tenant input” more seriously as it rushes forward with a plan to build market-rate apartments on public housing property.  These types of events aren’t normally very newsworthy, but this one turned out to be pretty interesting.

Before the speeches even began, Mayor Bloomberg exchanged words with two local lawmakers, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez and City Council member Margaret Chin. The mayor, who just happened to be arriving at his office as the officials were gathering, walked over to offer his own opinion about the NYCHA property plan.

Happening Now: Public Housing Development Hearing

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We’re at City Hall, where the City Council housing committee is holding a hearing on NYCHA’s plan to lease some of its property for private development. Earlier Council members held a news conference outside City Hall. Elected officials urged the housing authority to consult with tenants in a more meaningful way than it has up until now. A full report following the hearing.

 

NYCHA Details Development Plan Impacting LaGuardia Houses

A meeting was held last night at the Rutgers Houses.

A meeting was held last night at the Rutgers Houses.

Last night, the New York City Housing Authority took its road show to another housing development on the Lower East Side.  NYCHA Commissioner Margarita Lopez, a longtime LES resident, has been tasked with the responsibility of explaining the cash-strapped agency’s plan to lease property for market rate development in order to close a huge funding gap.  The latest information session was held in the gym of the Rutgers housing development, but was mostly intended for residents of the neighboring LaGuardia Houses.

NYCHA intends to offer 99 year leases to private developers at eight Manhattan housing projects, five of them on the Lower East Side (Smith, Baruch, LaGuardia, Campos Plaza Houses, plus Meltzer Towers).  During the presentation, housing authority officials detailed the plan at LaGuardia and attempted to tamp down rumors about the controversial proposal.

Elected Officials, Community Boards Send Letter to Bloomberg, Rhea Concerning NYCHA Property Plan

A parking lot at the Smith Houses is one potential site for luxury development.

This afternoon, elected officials and three Manhattan community boards are out with a letter they have sent to Mayor Bloomberg and NYCHA Chairman John Rhea concerning a proposal to build luxury housing on parking lots and other open space surrounding public housing projects.  Click through to see the full text.

NYCHA’s Margarita Lopez: Luxury Housing Plan is Not a Done Deal

Residents of the Smith Houses packed a gymnasium on Madison Street last night for a tense “emergency tenant meeting” to discuss the New York City Housing Authority’s plan to lease some of its property for luxury development.  They were greeted by NYCHA board member Margarita Lopez, who struggled to tamp down what she called “rumors” concerning the proposal.

A week ago, the Daily News reported that the cash-strapped agency would release an RFP (request for proposals) next month seeking developers for parking lots, playgrounds and other spaces at eight of its developments, five of them on the Lower East Side.  The new construction, the News reported, would consist of 80% market rate housing and 20% affordable housing.  Around $50 million in expected annual revenues would be plowed back into the public housing developments, which require billions in repairs and upgrades.  On the LES, Smith, as well as the La Guardia Houses, the Baruch Houses, Meltzer (senior housing) and Campos Plaza (on East 12th Street) would be impacted.  Many of the details in the newspaper report matched up with very general briefings given to members of the City Council and tenant leaders in the past month.

NYCHA Plans Luxury Housing Alongside Five LES Public Housing Projects

Photo via Alfred E. Smith Houses Facebook page.

The next big housing battle on the Lower East Side is upon us.  In the past month, officials with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) have been briefing elected officials and some tenant leaders about plans to lease a huge amount of property alongside public housing to private developers for market-rate apartments and retail.    Last night, at a meeting of Community Board 3’s land use committee, activists began to mobilize against the proposal, one tenant leader saying in regards to NYCHA, “if you want a war you’ve got a war.”

The cash-strapped agency has been talking about selling or leasing some of its property for years.  A 2008 report from the Manhattan Borough President found that the housing authority has more than 30 million square feet of unused property rights (including parking lots, playgrounds and open space).  In September, NYCHA Chairman John Rhea signaled that he was preparing to move ahead with the leasing plan as a way of narrowing the authority’s annual $60 million budget gap.