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Homeless and Housing Recap for October 6, 2020

(MSCC) John Mudd, Sharon Jasprizza, Released: October 27, 2020

SUBJECT: Homeless and Housing Committee Meeting RECAP for Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Time: 9:30 am-11:00am

Chair person: Sharon Jasprizza, MSCC

INTRODUCTIONS

The Homeless and Housing September 1, 2020 meeting on housing development can be viewed in its entirety on our Facebook page or see MSCC’s Facebook page: Midtown South Community Council @Midtownsouthnyc

PURPOSE

To develop partnerships and resources to identify problems and find solutions for our homeless and housing crisis

POLICY MEETING UPDATES

The prior 8:30 Homeless and Housing Policy meeting focus 

  • Medical Respite Bed updates regarding financials. Britt is reaching out to the Institute of Community Living, a medical respite bed model in NYC. Watch video 3 minute Medical Respite /video.
  • Shelter outreach policy updates. Nancy Pascal will search for the Model Budget and shelter hotel management contacts. 
    • Update: Nancy directed us to ask the offices of Linda Rosenthal. Sharon sent email request 10.20.20 
    • A request went out to Sharon Dore (SUS) for their model budget 
  • Nancy Pascal, Dan Pinchinson, Anthony Coleman, Britt Melewski, Shannon Luchs and John Mudd working on talking points for narrative and press release: outreach provider and partner highlights, their projects and services (eg. Dan Pinchinson referenced the Ryan Chelsea Mobile unit and Breaking Ground serviced 17 people). John Mudd will email draft of the talking points
  • Shannon Luchs dropped info in chat box about Source of Income Unit info. https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/help/report-income-discrimination.page https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/hra/downloads/pdf/brc_993_soi_brochure_lowres.pdf
  • Andre Garcia NYDIS spoke about not being able to transport PPE to people across the city. This latter issue was followed up later in day with emails. Add this point to agenda in 9.30am meeting in Nov 3 to see if follow up did happen 

SPECIAL INTRODUCTION(S) AND UPDATES: 

Richard Perkins, Housing Works, Positive Health Project, Harm Reduction Services at 301 West 37th Street.

  • Services include basic living needs healthcare, harm reduction services, showers and syringe exchange, primary care physicians, and mental health counseling, Smart program 
  • Working to form a coalition of partners in the neighborhood to address issues and see how Housing Works can be of assistance. Contact r.perkins@housingworks.org

Gisella Fonseca-Rizzo added information in the Chat box about Housing Works-Positive Health Project (Harm Reduction Department) programs: Positive health Project‘s Recharge (crystal meth users) for Community Engagement Navigators: g.fonseca-rizzo@housingworks.org

Housing Works offers many other programs including bathrooms, showers, and clothing closet 9-2 m-f. If you would like to reach out to the organizer of our closet (Moshay Moses / Fashion on Gender), her email is m.moses@housingworks.org .   She can better work with you to coordinate efforts in regards to the best way to receive and distribute clothing at our site.

DEFINING HOUSING OPTIONS were noted.

HOUSING COMMITTEE AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The following members are still determining responsibilities and the next step for housing. 

  • Andrew Kunkes, Mayor’s Office
  • Joycelyn Taylor, NYC Minority Women Business Enterprises
  • Ted Houghton, President of Gateway Housing
  • Marcel Negret, Senior Planner, Regional Plan Association (RPA)
  • Everett Perry, Independent Local Housing Developer
  • Brendan Cheney is the Director of Policy and Communications at the New York Housing Conference
  • Aurelija Jara, Architectural and Project Manager, perspectives.
  • Gustavo Jara, Construction manager
  • Leslie Boghosian, CB4, MSCC
  • Allen Oster, CB4, MSCC
  • John Mudd, MSCC
  • Sharon Jasprizza, MSCC
  • Lenise Dazzel-Harris, MSCC
  • You are welcome to join also

ADAPTIVE REUSE

Ted Houghton referred to the many hotels in midtown that were suffering as a result of the Pandemic. It’s not clear if they will close for good or temporarily. Information is purposely opaque at the moment, due to negotiation issues during this unprecedented time and unknown future. Hotels with less renovated value may not be worth bringing back as hotels, such as the Hilton Times Square in the center of Midtown. Thus, there are opportunities for converting hotels to housing.  Hotels are receiving contracts from emergency housing for COVID-19 quarantine isolation and temporary housing for the homeless. Ted spoke about needing a happy medium between developers and needs for affordable housing and the need to balance affordable units and deeply affordable units. 

FINANCING OPTIONS

Joycelyn Taylor broke down the 7.2 billion (3.2 billion city and 4 billion State) spent on homelessness, and explained that housing and homeless issues are still not being addressed. It seems the homeless industry has become a business for profit making (ie big business and contractors only offering 25% affordable housing while receiving investment dollars in creating stable housing)

Better to redirect finances from other areas such as new prisons into building supportive and affordable housing (eg utilize $11billion on jails for housing). A desperate need to mitigate the crisis and we need to reach out to our elected officials with concerns about developers receiving million dollar contracts and not providing the services they are being paid for, and also with ideas to create a stable housing. Joycelyn outlined the need for further conversation, lobbying, letter writing press releases. Joycelyn will present 3 formats for review and John Mudd will send to the committee for distribution. 

Emily Bartosek spoke about Assembly member Linda Rosenthal is working on legislation to overhaul the 421-a tax abatement system. Developers should not be permitted to use taxpayer dollars to reinforce economic segregation. Assembly member Rosenthal has initiated Change.org petition to elicit support from New Yorkers who agree that housing discrimination should not be tolerated under any circumstances: https://www.change.org/organizations/ assemblymember_linda_b_rosenthal_and_city_council_member_jumaane_d_williams. Rosenthal also has legislation to penalize landlords for “warehousing” rent-stabilized apartments (keeping their vacant rent-stabilized apartments off the market) and use the proceeds to address the city’s persistent homelessness problem. Assembly member Linda Rosenthal is committed to our committee’s goals and will support our committee to move forward. Follow up 

Chat Box comments included:

  • “After I moved out of my housing, the SRO [management] continued to charge HRA a huge monthly fee…” 
  • “They also have many violations In those units and the city still pay rent.” 
  • “We had rodents, a constantly-out-of-service elevator, clogged plumbing, broken doors, lack of AC….”
  • “Affordable for whom? 80K is not affordable for most of us!”
  • “Many subsidies are not meeting the goals they were implemented for”
  • “In Brooklyn we have lots of big construction companies to make huge sky scrapper style buildings to create a larger cost of living in these areas that were found to be low income communities.” 

Jenifer Bennetch, CoFounder, Occupy Philadelphia Housing Action discussed their campaign to force the City to transfer 50 vacant house to a community land trust. The trust will “permanently designate the properties for use as extremely low-income housing ($25,000 and below) and be managed by local control committees. A recent Pew report states that 140,000 Philadelphia households earn $30,000 or less” https://philadelphiahousingaction.info/release-philadelphia-housing-action-claims-victory-after-6-month-direct-action-campaign-forces-city-to-relinquish-50-vacant-homes-to-community-land-trust/ People with criminal records, eviction histories are not turned away from this Land Trust program. These houses are not taken from the housing stock because they would have been for auction or for sale on the local market. Jennifer will work with our committee as an advisor and supporter.

ZONING

Marcel Negret, Senior Planner, Regional Plan Association (RPA) spoke of the formula involving land use improvement, viability and regulatory framework issues such as zoning. Marcel shared the map for midtown illustrating the Improvement to Land Value ratio outlining opportunities and spoke about the 56 % of the Waldort Astoria hotel to residential use and its 3 zoning districts. Open space and rooftop space requirements was noted. 

SUPERVISED INJECTION SITES

Emily Borteck,  Leslie Boghosian Murphy; Richard Perkins, Housing Works

In 2018, the Mayor backed a pilot plan for four safe consumption sites throughout the city but the state was deterred by the federal lawsuit in Philadelphia (see article): https://www.thecity.nyc/2019/10/4/21210768/safe-injection-ruling-boosts-hope-state-will-ok-drug-centers

  • Bill to make SIS (Supervised Injection Sites) legal: Senate Bill S498, 2019-2020 Relates to the enactment of the Safer Consumption Services Act
  • Development update
  • Other models operating
  • Barriers to progressing Supervised Injection Sites (SIS)

PUBLIC CONCERNS

Anthony Coleman said that things have improved from the concerted efforts of the NYC Council, MSCC, DHS, Outreach, community, and NYPD. 

SUMMARY of Committed Actions – Lenise Dazzle-Harris

Richard Perkins — “in addition to Building coalition to provide linkage to housing”

Ted Houghton — 

  • “There are Opportunities for converting hotels to housing” 
  • “Hotels are receiving contracts from emergency housing for covid quarantine isolation and temporary housing for the homeless” 
  • “Information is purposely opaque” 
  • “How do you reach a happy medium between developers and needs for affordable housing?” 
  • “How do you balance affordable units and deeply affordable units?” 
  • “Developer owners facing financial distress due to economic downfall, these are opportunities to turn hotels into affordable housing” 

Jocelyn Taylor

  •  Addressed the issue of homelessness becoming big business and contractors only offering 25% affordable housing who are receiving city dollars in creating stable housing
  • Suggested to take $11 billion dollars from the budget for jails and add it to the housing needs
  • Have a conversation about converting office into housing 
  • reimagine meeting on how we spend funds
  • Jocelyn to write letter for all of us to send out to elected officials
  • Establish median income for each specific area versus generalizing
  • Reach out to elected officials with concerns about developers receiving million dollar contracts and not providing the services they are being paid for and ideas to create a stable housing 

Emily Bartosek, Linda Rosenthal’s office 

  • Help eliminate 421A (property tax abatement for affordable housing) 
  • Look into buildings already zoned for residential use for conversion 
  • Use 421a program dollars for permanently affordable housing 
  • Emily to send development options outside of private developers

Paul Feuerstein — 

  • NYC is the only city to give homeless the right to shelter. 
  • Still looking for capital money to build a shelter ($4.4 M)
  • Eishai 5, low income tax credits, to help low income housing 

Eric Lee

Reach out to Council member Lander for more information on land trusts for distressed properties given to non profits to develop affordable housing 

Jennifer Benetch

Discussed her evolution for land trust development

  • Move homeless families into vacant homes 
  • Use Protest encampments to stop contraction and negotiate taking back land 
  • Turn vacant properties into community land trusts 
  • Occupy housing authorities headquarters
  • Community to do their own construction, fundraising for supplies 

ADDITIONAL ACTIONS 

  • Reach out to marcel for Waldorf Astoria case study
  • 441 hotels concentrated in midtown — need status 
  • Hotels that have 
  • Regulatory framework, ???
  • zoning in midtown does allow for residential uses but a small fraction, part of the building will need to 
  • We can omit regulations or waive if we can commit to SRO
  • (SIS) Supervised Injections Sites — Nick Guile, Jarret Lyons, Leslie Bogohosian, Richard Perkins, Jesus Aponte, will work together on how we may push the development of  SIS. Governor and the community need to be involved, and needs to be fought at the Federal level 
  • Richard Perkins — Health costs savings immense if safe legal injection sites are implemented – link included in the chat
  • Send Claire a list of hotels being used as shelters
  • Schedule a housing committee meeting 

ANNOUNCEMENTS 

  • Mobile Showers Program, needs at least 3,000 square feet in midtown, contact john.mudd@usa.net, 917-520-3009
  • Trinity’s Compassion Market, NYC Council’s Donation Drive, and other announcements Addendum 

AOB

  • Public bathrooms needed in the city
  • Next Homeless and Housing Meeting November 3 at 9.30am on zoom