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Homeless and Housing Recap for February 1, 2022

(MSCC) Sharon Jasprizza, Posted February 22, 2022

SUMMARY

Homeless Protection Act for language change to protect people who are homeless, Empire State Development ESD and Penn Area Project, Landlord Abuses, Medicare vs. Managed Care, Tenants rights and housing.

Chairperson: John Mudd, MSCC welcomed committee members and outlined the purpose of the meeting. Jennifer Mallicote welcomed new members. 

POLICY MEETING UPDATES

The full Recap for the Policy meeting is found at the end of the 9.30 am Homeless and Housing Meeting Recap.

Charisma White (MSCC)

Outlined the issues with the HPD Section 8 voucher, the housing lottery, and new Housing. 

Lawrence Wheatman (Neighbor on 30th St)

This point is discussed further in the 9.30am recap: Lawrence Wheatman suggests Heather Manly, Manhattan DA, present at today’s meeting to review the Empire Station Complex Neighborhood Conditions Study Feb 2021  https://esd.ny.gov/sites/default/files/Empire-Station-Complex-Neighborhood-Conditions-Study-FINAL-2021-02-03.pdf 

Lawrence asks if the report is factually correct. Heather Manly will research the topic.

Jennifer Mallicote (MSCC)

  • Referred to the policy discussion about forming committees
  • Highlighted the work for the planned rally in Spring
  • Summarized the need to continue the development of the Voucher Educational Tool

John Mudd (MSCC)

Explained the reason for committees: the best way to pursue and achieve results. The Health Committee is very effective

Terrence Coffie (MSCC and NYU)

Voucher conversations are needed because of the complexity involved and the widespread problems of vouchers

Marni Halasa (MSCC)

Reported a good news story where a young mother was able to retrieve a NYCHA apartment because of constant follow-up by a councilperson

ACTIONS

  • Rue Parkin would like to follow up on voucher training rue@helpNYC.co
  • Heather Manley, Manhattan DA, will research the Vornado Realty Trust development at Penn Station and the resulting housing issues
  • John Mudd will include the GPP report as an agenda item in the future

SPECIAL INTRODUCTION(S) AND OR UPDATES: 

Lili Lopez, Outreach Specialist NY Connects, connects people with any Disability, any age to services, resources, or based on people’s needs.  Contact us at llopez@cidny.org or 844-862-7930.

  • Outlined that it is best for NY Connects to start the process for 2010E applications because NY Connects has access to all documents, whereas if another person has begun the application, then its hard to access all documents later
  • Lili Lopez will connect with Charisma White to see if NY Connects can help
  • NY Connects provides many services, including rental assistance applications and advocacy for people; needs. NY Connects operates in all five boroughs

Rue Parkin, HelpNYC, rue@helpNYC.co, 929.220.3027

Philip Malebranche, an Activist, spoke about the Homeless Protection Act. See Addendum B for https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/A4824

  • Assembly Member Rosenthal proposed the Homeless Protection Act to amend the language around homelessness
  • A need to advocate for this change to protect people who are homeless from violence

Actions

  • Lili Lopez will connect with Charisma White to see if NY Connects can help
  • Sign up to Rue Parkin’s mailing list for info about realtors and if you wish to onboard with HelpNYC: see links and email above
  • Support and advocate for the Homeless Protection Act at https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/A4824

EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT (ESD)

Layla Law-Gisiko, CB5, Chair of the Land-Use Committee, running for Assembly District 75. Layla spoke on this topic in length. Please see her detailed study on the ESD proposed development here.

  • The Empire Station Complex (ESC) has been renamed under Governor Hochul as the Penn Area Project
  • The budget was introduced in 2020 by Governor Cuomo. The plan was for fixing Penn Station, but in reality, it is a real estate project calling for the construction of 10 towers around Penn Station. The community outreach for the above ground development Project is led by the Empire Station Development Corporation excludes costs and detail planning of Penn Station
  • The ten towers require the demolition of 9 city blocks owned by the developer Vornado, which is identified as the only private developer in this Project for five sites. The other sites are to be developed through NYS Eminent Domain (the right of the government to take private property for a public purpose)
  • Sites to the South would be demolished using NYS Eminent Domain
  • Governor Hochul / ESD is continuing to push the Project through the approval pipe
  • Ten towers of 18 to 19 million sq. feet will mostly be for commercial use, owned by Vornado
  • There is a component in the plan for residential, but this option is at discretion of the developer. If the developer were to build residential, there would be a requirement for 30% to be affordable and the rest at market rate. This amounts to slightly over 100 units. The residential to commercial equation looks like the following:
    • 100 residential units(approximately 100,000 square feet) + 18,900,000 (to 17,900,000) square feet of commercial space = 18 to 19,000,000 square feet of development
    • The residential component is approximately .5% of total development
  • The level of affordability is vague
  • All levels of government can use Eminent Domain. The properties not owned by Vornado can be taken by the Federal government though eminent domain because it’s needed for to further expansion and or improvement of Amtrak—a federal entity. The level of protection for people losing their homes is less under a federal framework
  • Under the federal Eminent Domain, there is zero protection for businesses. There is no relocation support or rebuilding support for businesses 
  • The development will displace many residents, including 55 SRO residents. Currently the The coalition against the Empire Station/ Penn Area development are investigating possible illegal displacement of people who were living at the Pennsylvanian hotel, which was closed and already under demolition. Extensive demolition displaces small businesses, including retail, at ground level 
  • The Empire State Development (ESD) conducted two hearings. The last hearing started at 5 pm with 260 people testifying. Eventually, people dropped out, and the last speaker, a resident of building 780 who has been living there for 40 years with a sick daughter, spoke at 1.20 am. Thus, the requirement for people to speak was fulfilled but was not in the spirit of a public hearing. Not acceptable to hold hearings so late for people fighting to save their homes 
  • The ESD is technically in compliance with the environmental requirements of the State of New York and now working on the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). It is said to take two months for this. EDS will consider feedback and concerns of various stakeholders: residents, community boards, elected officials, Planning Commission (a city agency which does not support the plan), before presenting the final Project, which is likely to contain minor modifications and not address the community needs.
  • The final Project is then submitted to the directors of ESD (note the Governor appoints the directors) and will likely be approved. This could happen in May 2022
  • The plan will then go to the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB), possibly in June or July of 2022, to review the proposal regarding how much money the ESD is issuing in bonds and how much ESA will receive. This is the last opportunity to derail this project
  • The project must be tackled on the technicality front
  • We need to stay focused on the impact on Housing 
  • For lobbying purposes, see Addendum C for The ESD Board of directors (https://esd.ny.gov/about-us/leadership
    • Important to note that the directors, who make the decisions, are not at the hearings. The staff of the ESD was at the hearings
  • Ted Houghton noted that there are Law firms who specialize in these things, and battles are sometimes won and lost at the the 11th hour
  • Layla Law-Gisiko: The public is now more knowledgeable of this battle and no one group (architects, preservation groups, housing advocates, etc.) has spoken in favor of this development with the exception of ESD and Vornado
  • There is a path to defeat this Project. This is a primary year, and the real estate industry will endorse Governor Hochul. Governor Hochul may not like to start her Governorship with a stain such as the above on her record
  • Marni Halasa (MSCC) reported Mayor Eric Adams is not in favor of Governor Hochul’s plan. Activists in Hells Kitchen do not want the Gateway Project because of the influx of people into the area 
  • Layla Law-Gisiko says the City commission stated they cannot fully support the plan. This means that the directors of the ESD who need 2/3s of the vote may think again because the ESD has never supported a project that has not had the full support of the city. This is a big deal because the City says it will not support the plan 
  • The Gateway Tunnel Project misconception about increasing capacity is wrong. The two new tunnels will not increase capacity because “While the Hudson Tunnel Project would double the number of tracks under the Hudson River, it would not result in an increase in rail capacity due to constraints at Penn Station” and “The project involves design and construction of a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River as well as the rehabilitation and modernization of the existing North River Tunnel” http://www.gatewayprogram.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Amtrak_RTB_HTP-update.pdf
  • The Gateway Project is to provide resiliency and redundancy
  • Lawrence Frommer, resident and member of Save Chelsea : Andrew Cronson from Save Chelsea is leading the charge; although it’s the 11th hour, politicians need to speak up, so please encourage them to do so. Go to https://www.savechelseany.org/ for further information
  • Layla Law-Gisiko says it’s essential to reach out to the media and pressure elected officials,  and since Layla is running for Albany, she will be a champion and understands these issues
  • Lawrence Wheatman raised with the DA possible criminal intentions of Vornado. Lawrence stated it’s worth noting that “Lefrak Organization CEO Richard LeFrak and Vornado CEO Steven Roth have been named to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s task force for rehabilitating Penn Station,” as reported by REW May 23, 2017. https://rew-online.com/lefrak-roth-named-to-penn-station-task-force 
  • Layla Law-Gisiko notes that the State Controller does audits; it may be under his purview to review this. Layla notes it is odd that a person of a traded company can be part of a task force. Vornado is trading stock in this investment. Does NYS have laws that prohibit this type of investment?

Actions

  • Layla Law-Gisiko says to tackle this Project at this last technical stage
  • Layla Law-Gisiko will update John Mudd with the leadership of ESD. See Addendum C ESD leadership and Board of directors (https://esd.ny.gov/about-us/leadership)
  • Layla Law-Gisiko says it’s essential to reach out to the media, pressure the elected officials
  • Forward questions to John Mudd for Layla Law-Gisiko

 LANDLORD-TENANT ISSUES

 Jeff Seal, Comedian and documentary filmmaker based in Brooklyn, New York, New York’s Worst Landlord documentary reveals the tenant struggles with landlords.

  • His films and documentaries have been shown on HBO, The New York Times, The Discovery Channel, AJ+ and gothamist.com 
  • Worst landlords are listed each year by the Public Advocates office; it was hard to get interviews with these landlords, hard to figure out who landlords were because they hide behind LLCs
  • The process of trying to get interviews with landlords was complex; went to buildings where tenants lived and profiled the problems in a facility run by the worst landlords
  • The aim was to create entertaining videos to highlight the serious housing problems and housing crisis in NY
  • Footage work in rent-stabilized apartments and where there are no residential protections
  • Jeff has made another video about eviction recently where once a lease is up, landlords raise the rent to force people to leave (same effect as an eviction)

PUBLIC CONCERNS

Margaret McInroe

  • Questioning tech industry (startups, Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.) and its involvement in our neighborhood. Governor Hockul is supporting start ups in NYC. What research has been done around this?  
  • Regarding political donations: “The state Board of Elections has failed to enforce a 2019 law requiring campaigns to disclose the identities of the individuals behind certain corporate donations, while campaigns across the state have flouted the law with impunity, an analysis by New York Focus found. The disclosure requirements have been breached by both Republican and Democratic candidates, including New York’s most prolific fundraiser in 2021—Gov. Kathy Hochul” https://www.thecity.nyc/2022/2/9/22924530/hochul-llc-law-campaign-cash
  • From the chat box, Margaret posted the following: “As a neighbor, combined-media artist, coop owner, and member of HKBA  and MSCC, I have been watching and photographing and documenting the transformations of Hudson Yards West. I have researched quite a bit about real estate investments in Brookfield and Vornado and potential matters of serious concern for property holders in this area. I’m interested in joining a focus group for the Penn Station Area. Artssummit@icloud.com… I can
    Volunteer with outreach as well. I’m a Hunter College alumni and feel like
    the area is too culturally significant to be put in danger.”

Lawrence Wheatman

  • Lawrence explained the Tech sector and start-ups are different animals. Vornado will ensure there is never a startup or artist because Vornado eliminates Class B and Class C which both start-ups and artists require. Class A activity is not eliminated

Shams DaBaron, dahomelesshero@gmail.com

https://www.rattlestick.org/20212022-season/addressless

  • Likes the idea of centering issues through video
  • Ideas of bringing rent-stabilized units online. There may be 20.000 empty apartments throughout the city
  • Example: 1 bedroom apt on UWS for rent for $850. If a person has a CityPheps voucher for $1900 landlord can not take the voucher. Landlords are reluctant to engage because of this issue and rather keep apartments empty rather than rent below market levels, so the property looks more on paper. Landlords not sure of differences between a voucher, e.g., 2010E voucher for supportive Housing

Althea Matthews, Homeless Union

  • Voucher not being accepted at the rate it was, still have the same problem even with the same market rate
  • Landlords need to partner with the City to have greater transparency 
  • John Mudd noted Rue Parkin and Community Court working on this. Reach out to John Mudd if you have questions

John Mudd, MSCC

  • Will contact Shams about the rally to be included on the planning committee as speakers and to have Sophia,  a young speaker, to be included in the rally

Charisma White, MSCC

  • Suggests MSCC do a documentary about finding Housing
  • John Mudd referred to MSCC YouTube videos and its plan to do documentary
  • Jeff is researching this topic and will talk further with MSCC and Charisma White

Professor Terrence Coffie, New York University, MSCC

  • From the Chatbox: The Social Justice Network , NYU’s Silver and DEI in partnership with MSCC will host our Black History Month: Emancipation Celebration and Launch February 26th, 2022. This event will be hosted at Exodus Transitional Community Tillary Hotel. We would love to invite you and your organizations to partner with us in the momentous celebration.To learn more on how to get involved, please feel free to contact me at tc1864@nyu.edu or call 347-455-6738. We will be offering tabling opportunities, as well as adding your organization to our on-line resource guide

PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION ON PLANS FOR THE FUTURE OF PENN STATION, Fri, February 4, 2022, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm EST, Register Here!

  • Layla Law-Gisiko, chair of the Land Use, Housing and Zoning Committee and the
    Landmarks Committee of Community Board 5, will discuss reasonable options
    other than the Governor’s plan to bulldoze nine city blocks around Penn
    Station to erect office towers

Robert Seebeck, research fellow at the Fund for the City of New York 

  • From the Chatbox: Working with the Manhattan Community Board 5

Marni Halasa, MSCC

  • From Chatbox: Besides going through ULURP, where 99% of the projects get approved, could it be possible that a mechanism be created where the community has final say of
    development? What would that look like if residents had more of a final
    approval? 

Actions

  • John Mudd to contact Shams with information about the rally
  • John Mudd will connect with Celina Trowell after the meeting regarding the planned rally

ANNOUNCEMENTS / EVENTS

  • NEXT Meeting Homeless and Housing Meeting: 9:30 am Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Always the 1st Tuesday of every month

Contact hello@midtownsouthcc.org for more information and your Zoom invitations.

ADDENDUM A: DEFINING HOUSING

DEFINING HOUSING

When advocating for housing rights with a focus on community, the below items are considered:

  • Shelters: Truly transitional; although purposeful, achieving our housing and community goals will eliminate or lessen the need
  • Medical Respite Beds: Health care unit for longer stay and transitioning to Housing (see Addendum B: Medical Respite Bed Advocacy Plan)
  • SROs: Single Room Occupancy
  • Supportive: Accessorized with social services
  • Housing First: Unconditional placement
  • Really Affordable: Rentals below the medium wage of 55,000 and or below 30% of income (input)
  • Affordable: The market rate rentals currently available to people above the medium wage up to 88,000 with a 30% of income ask or higher (see Addendum x)
  • Option and Incentives for Home Owner

ADDENDUM B: POLICY MEETING RECAP IN FULL

POLICY MEETING RECAP FEBRUARY 1, 2022

8:30 am Tuesday, February 1, Zoom

Chairperson: John Mudd, MSCC

Minutes: Sharon Jasprizza, MSCC

Meeting focused on: Health committee, Voucher tool, Workshops, and more.

Health Committee focusing on Medicare v Managed Care 

John Mudd, MSCC 

  • Health Committee met recently to talk through resources and plan for committee 
  • Committee has enough resources to write up proposal and put information out 
  • Enrol people in Medicare by partnering with service providers
  • John Mudd and Sharon Jasprizza are working together to present to the committee a draft proposal/study regarding the issues of Medicare and Managed Care

Voucher Tool

John Mudd, MSCC

  • Need to work on voucher tool. Charisa White is a great asset for this work

Workshops

John Mudd, MSCC

  • Will reach out to Encore
  • Meg Chapman has been working on a space also

Three in four housing applications rejected in 2021

  • John Mudd, MSCC, quoted The City Jan 27, 2022 where the city has created an arduous eligibility process that became even more unnavigable during the pandemic
  • MSCC calls on “Mayor Eric Adams to permanently abolish a longtime requirement that entire families show up in person to a Bronx intake center in order to apply for homeless shelter” MSCC will support this. https://www.thecity.nyc/2022/2/7/22922716/homeless-families-break-adams
  • MSCC calls for a full review. “Most families rejected from homeless shelters did not get a full required review of their housing histories before being deemed ineligible, a new audit from City Comptroller Brad Lander finds — including one who’d applied 38 times” https://www.thecity.nyc/2022/2/10/22928088/families-rejected-homeless-shelter

Tenants’ rights at risk in NYCHA Conversions warns Human Rights Group

John Mudd, MSCC. Quoted the City Scoop Jan 21, 2022 where private managers comprise tenants’ rights.

Housing issues and needs

Charisma White, MSCC

  • Pestilence is an issue
  • More space needed because family has increased in size
  • New developments limit people with housing vouchers. Mayor claims they are low income affordable housing but people can not get in. 
  • People are asked to sign onto Housing connect. People are then told that there is a 1 to 5 year wait list, and second it’s a lottery. The problem is that vouchers don’t last this long
  • People are consequently left to find apartments on line (eg Street Easy) on various sites. Problems involve fraud, violations, and no suitable housing. Landlords with violations should not be allowed to rent apartments until these are cleared
  • Landlords do not always give rent receipts. Charisma talks with the Commissioner of Human Rights lawyer who then talks with landlord lawyers. It seems that the people in these apartments do not speak English and as a consequence are bullied and taken advantage of
  • People are too scared to form tenant associations. Charisma said this community (Sunset Park zip 11219) are too fearful and not willing to talk
  • Charisma White will send John details of addresses of management company
  • John Mudd will speak with the Council person for this area
  • Charisma White can not put in and application for NYCHA because she is a HPD Section 8 voucher holder for over 8 years

Actions

  • John Mudd and Sharon Jasprizza are working together to present to the committee a draft proposal/study regarding the issues of Medicare and Managed Care
  • Charisma White will send John details of addresses of management company
  • John Mudd will speak with the Council person for this area Charisma White refers to
  • MSCC calls on Mayor Eric Adams to permanently abolish a longtime requirement that entire families show up in person to a Bronx intake center in order to apply for homeless shelter” https://www.thecity.nyc/2022/2/7/22922716/homeless-families-break-adams
  • MSCC calls for a full review. “Most families rejected from homeless shelters did not get a full required review of their housing histories before being deemed ineligible” https://www.thecity.nyc/2022/2/10/22928088/families-rejected-homeless-shelter

ADDENDUM C: Assembly Bill A4824

2017-2018 Legislative Session

Establishes the homeless protection act which designates certain offenses against homeless persons as hate crimes: SPONSORED BY ROSENTHALL

AN ACT to amend the penal  law,  in  relation  to  designating  offenses magainst homeless persons as hate crime 

THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEMBLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1. Short title. This act shall be known and may  be  cited  as the “homeless protection act”.

  §  2. Subdivisions  1, 2 and 4 of section 485.05 of the penal law, as added by chapter 107 of the  laws  of  2000,  are  amended  to  read  as follows:

  1. A  person  commits a hate crime when he or she commits a specified offense and either:

  (a) intentionally selects the  person  against  whom  the  offense  is committed  or  intended  to be committed in whole or in substantial part because of a belief or perception regarding the  race,  color,  national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability,

HOMELESSNESS,  or  sexual orientation of a person, regardless of whether

the belief or perception is correct, or  (b) intentionally commits the act or acts constituting the offense  in whole or in substantial part because of a belief or perception regarding the  race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability, HOMELESSNESS,  or  sexual  orientation  of  a person, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct.

  2. Proof of race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability, HOMELESSNESS, or sexual orientation of the defendant, the victim or of both the  defendant  and  the  victim does  not,  by itself, constitute legally sufficient evidence satisfying

the people’s burden under paragraph (a) or (b)  of  subdivision  one  of this section.

  4. For purposes of this section:

 EXPLANATION–Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets

                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.

                                                           LBD05419-01-7

A. 4824                             2

  (a) the term “age” means sixty years old or more;

  (b)  the  term “disability” means a physical or mental impairment that

substantially limits a major life activity; AND

  (C) THE TERM “HOMELESSNESS” MEANS THE SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH AN INDIVIDUAL OR FAMILY IS UNDOMICILED, HAS NO FIXED ADDRESS, LACKS A FIXED REGULAR NIGHTTIME RESIDENCE, RESIDES IN A  PLACE  NOT  DESIGNED  FOR  OR ORDINARILY  USED  AS  A  REGULAR SLEEPING ACCOMMODATION FOR HUMAN BEINGS (SUCH AS A HALLWAY, BUS STATION, LOBBY OR SIMILAR PLACE), RESIDES  IN  A HOMELESS SHELTER, RESIDES IN A RESIDENTIAL PROGRAM FOR VICTIMS OF DOMES- TIC VIOLENCE, OR RESIDES IN A HOTEL/MOTEL ON A TEMPORARY BASIS.

  § 3. This act shall take effect immediately.

The Corporation is governed by a board of directors comprising two ex-officio members and seven members appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate. The chair of the Empire State Development Board is selected by the governor. Board members serve without compensation. 

Hilda Rosario Escher, Director
Confirmed – June 16, 2015

Sherry A. Glied, Director
Dean, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service – New York University
Confirmed – June 7, 2021

Adrienne A. Harris, Ex-Officio Director
NYS Department of Financial Services, Superintendent
Appointed as of September 13, 2021
Confirmed – January 25, 2022

Hope Knight, Ex-Officio Director
NYS Department of Economic Development, Acting Commissioner
As of November 15, 2021

Cesar A. Perales, Director
Former Secretary of State of New York
Confirmed – June 17, 2016

Michael K. Rozen, Director
Managing Partner, TRGP Investment Partners, LP
Confirmed – June 7, 2021

Board meetings

The Board typically meets the third Thursday of every month. Click here to access the Board Meetings page.

ESD Executive Management Team

Hope Knight – President & CEO-designate and Acting Commissioner
Kevin Younis – Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner
Rhoda Glickman – SVP, Film, Arts and New Media Development
Jeff Janiszewski – SVP, Strategic Business Development/Global NY 
Ed Hamilton – EVP, Administration
Elaine Kloss – Chief Financial Officer
Holly Leicht – EVP, Real Estate Development and Planning
Jerome A. DuVal – EVP & Executive Director, Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development
Matthew Gorton – EVP, Public Affairs and Communications

For more information, contact:
ESD Office of Public Affairs
(800) 260-7313

ADDENDUM D: Empire State Development Empire Station Complex General Project Plan (GPP) Adopted February 18, 2021

New York State Urban Development Corporation d/b/a Empire State Development Empire Station Complex Civic and Land Use Improvement Project General Project Plan Adopted February 18, 2021

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE PROJECT The New York State Urban Development Corporation (“UDC”) d/b/a Empire State Development (“ESD”) is adopting this General Project Plan (“GPP”) for the Empire Station Complex Civic and Land Use Improvement Project (the “Project”) in accordance with the New York State Urban Development Corporation Act (the “UDC Act”). The Project is a comprehensive redevelopment initiative to create a revitalized area centered around a vastly improved New York Pennsylvania Station (“Penn Station”) in Manhattan. It would address substandard and insanitary conditions and provide for construction of significant civic improvements in the Project Area (as defined below). The primary components of the Project—which would result in the creation of a thriving and sustainable transit-oriented district. See attachment for full report. 

See this link for the full Penn Station Development Plan