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LES Residents Discuss Concerns with HUD Official

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Public Housing residents, many of them from the Lower East Side, participated in a town hall meeting this past weekend with a federal housing official. Deborah Hernandez, a deputy assistant secretary of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), listened to their concerns about the preservation of public housing and several other issues.

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Deborah Hernandez, HUD official, takes notes during town Hall Meeting Saturday

The residents want a commitment from HUD to push for a one year moratorium on the demolition of public housing. There are persistent fears that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), facing a $200 million budget deficit, will be forced to privatize. About half of NYCHA’s funding comes from the federal government. Hernandez said HUD would not advocate for a moratorium – that it’s up to Congress to decide whether that’s a good idea.

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Other residents complained about policies that are widely viewed by public housing activists as unfair and punitive. Among them- a federal law that forces residents to perform community service and the practice of evicting tenants who have been arrested, but not necessarily convicted of any crime. Hernandez called these local matters that HUD could not address.

Organizers thanked Hernandez for coming to the forum, noting that another HUD official had backed out of the event sue to an overbooked schedule.

The forum was organized by a coalition of housing advocates called “Community Voices Heard” and GOLES (Good Old Lower East Side).

NYCHA is the largest public housing authority in the country.

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