In the past 24 hours, the New York City Housing Authority finally posted details on its web site concerning a plan to lease some of its property for private development. Tonight, officials will be briefing residents of the Smith Houses about the plan but many tenants will not be participating.
This is because they’re boycotting the meeting, set to take place at P.S. 126 (80 Catherine Street), at 6:30 p.m. Why? A press release we received from BerlinRosen Public Relations states: “The Tenants’ Association Exec. Committee asked NYCHA to reschedule the meeting in order to give residents at least a 10-day notice and opportunity to review the proposals, but NYCHA is deciding to go ahead anyway. The Authority is making it seem as though their plan is a done-deal and residents just have to put up with it.” The Urban Justice Center is advocating on behalf of the public housing tenants, many of whom have obtained legal representation.
In a phone interview a little while ago, Aixa Torres, Smith’s tenant president, said she was concerned about scheduling the meeting just before Holy Week and Passover. “It’s disrespectful,” she said. Tenant leaders just received information about the Smith plan last night. Flyers announcing the meeting were delivered to apartments last Friday. Torres said she never received a response from NYCHA to her request to delay the session until April 4 and was not notified about tonight’s event.
NYCHA plans to offer up two sites at Smith, accommodating more than one-thousand apartments. You can read more about the proposal here. We asked the NYCHA press office for a response to this evening’s planned boycott (protesters are expected outside P.S. 126). This is the statement we received: “The New York City Housing Authority looks forward to presenting details of the Land Lease proposal to Smith Houses residents, and to hear their thoughts, ideas and to answer questions. These meetings are the first of several meetings to discuss this effort.”