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Chelsea NYCHA Tenants Urge Halt to Plans to Demolish Their Homes

Indypendent, ELSIE CARSON-HOLT Jul 18, 2023

Residents of the Chelsea-Elliot and Fulton Houses warn that the city’s plan to tear down their current buildings and replace them with new ones is a land grab that will permanently displace them.

Tenants from the Chelsea-Elliot and Fulton public housing complexes in Chelsea gathered outside of the New York City Housing Authority’s public hearing at Stuyvesant High School in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday evening. They voiced their opposition to NYCHA’s proposal to demolish their buildings.

The rally, with around 20 participants, took place amid a contentious debate between tenants, NYCHA and developers over the fate of four housing developments: Chelsea, Chelsea Addition, Fulton and Elliot. 

NYCHA has proposed the gradual demolition of the four developments over several years, which would destroy 2,055 units, home to more than 5,000 residents. 

In recent decades, Chelsea has become one of New York City’s poshest neighborhoods.

The public housing authority insists that only about 100 households, or 6% of tenants, would be displaced during the rebuilding process, though tenants expressed worry that the number may be much higher. NYCHA plans to partner with private development companies Essence Development and The Related Companies to replace the demolished buildings with a mix of upgraded affordable housing and market-rate units. Residents who rallied in front of Stuyvesant, however, are wary of the plan.

NO TRUST IN NYCHA

Celines Miranda is one of these residents. Her family has lived in the Elliot houses for almost 50 years, and she opposes the demolition and privatization plan. She says that if NYCHA tears down the buildings, she will be “heartbroken,” that it would be the “ruining a community, a beautiful environment, a family-oriented place.” Initially, Miranda wanted NYCHA to rehabilitate the buildings, but when she learned private developers would be involved, she began to worry they would bring evictions and now opposes privatization in any form. 

Many other residents echoed these sentiments, and feel that the demolition project’s goal isn’t just to upgrade the developments, as NYCHA says, but to push lower-income residents out of the wealthy Manhattan neighborhood. 

“I believe it is systemic, that people don’t want public housing in this area because of Google and Hudson Yards, and all their wealth, and the Highline,” said Luana Green, who lived in the complex from 1970 to 2008, and now lives in a co-op nearby. “They really want to take over the property, and it’s really a land grab. Demolition is not an option.”

The Indypendent spoke to some residents that are worried they will end up like public-housing residents in Chicago, where families were displaced on a massive scale in the early 2000s. “We’ve seen this done in Chicago and other cities,” said Luana Green “And guess what? Those tenants never came back. So I don’t see any course except to keep them, keep the buildings or renovate.”

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