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HOMELESS AND HOUSING RECAP JULY 5, 2022

(MSCC) Sharon Jasprizza, July 31, 2022

SUMMARY: Hotels to Housing, NYCHA, Saving SECTION 9, and 5WTC 100% Affordable 

CHAIRPERSON(S): Sharon Jasprizza

INTRODUCTIONS AND PURPOSE OF MEETING

John Mudd carried out the introductions and outlined the meeting’s purpose, Sharon Jasprizza asked for feedback and actions to support the committees’ work. Please email John and Sharon with suggestions at john.mudd@usa.net  and hello@midtownsouthcc.org

8:30 AM HOMELESS AND HOUSING POLICY MEETING UPDATES 

Sharon Jasprizza, MSCC:

  • One of our advisors and funders asked MSCC to be better at informing people of MSCC’s success
    • Please email feedback to John and Sharon.
  • The CROC rally happened on June 16th, Updates about the appeal for their case involving the switch from traditional Medicare to the Advantage plans pending
  • MSCC’s Health Committee is working to educate people about Traditional Medicare and its benefits and the disadvantages of corporate entities (DCE, Direct Contracting Entities) providing Medicare services—The retirees are not agreeable to this switch
  • John Mudd noted the need for medical respite beds

ADAPTIVE REUSE: HOTELS TO HOUSING

Speaker(s): Ted Houghton, President of Gateway Housing 

  • Governor Hochul signed a bill on June 7, 2022, that paves the way for underutilized hotels in the city to be converted into apartments, giving a boost to Mayor Adams, who has characterized the legislation as a critical tool for tackling New York’s housing crisis
  • Allows hotels to retain their existing certificates of occupancy as opposed to having to secure new ones. It also unlocks $200 million in state funding for the city to bankroll hotel-to-housing conversions
  • Allows hotels to be used as housing and not just as transitory housing
  • It gives flexibility to housing codes; for example, if the space is 140 sq ft of livable space instead of the minimum of 150 sq ft of livable space (not a bathroom or egress), the smaller space can be converted without having to be gutted entirely for rehab. This makes a big difference because New York hotel rooms are relatively small. This is based on precedent when in the 1990s, two hotels, Prince George and Times Sq Hotel, were converted into supportive housing. They retained their Certificate of Occupancy and had smaller occupancy units than modern law allowed. The Department of Buildings has said it’s a mistake, not a precedent. Ted says we need to have the clarification in law
  • Two hundred forty hotels in the city were built in a M1 (Light Manufacturing) zones. Hotels can no longer be built on M1 lots unless they have special permits from the City Council. These M1 hotels can be used as shelter as of right but cannot be used as housing unless they go through Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) and rezoned. But this Bill allows some of these hotels, if they are within two blocks of residential uses, to be turned into housing without going through ULURP. Ted says there are a handful of hotels in an MI zone that could affected
  • However, if they are union hotels, both sides of the collective bargaining must agree to the conversion to housing
  • More than two years since the Pandemic started, those hotels that were closed are now experiencing high occupancy because the tourism industry is coming back, and hence the supply to convert is reduced
  • The Bill requires NFP to develop and operate. Developers can be involved, but NFPs are to be in the driver’s seat. NFP developers are looking for opportunities to turn hotels into permanent housing 
  • The Bill requires tenants to be rent stabilized and permanently affordable

Discussion

  • Sharon Jasprizza asked about hotels that may be available. Ted referred to some in the outer borough and some that may be available in midtown. 
  • Sharon Jasprizza asked about the rule of thumb for cost: Ted said less than $500,000 per unit before the Pandemic, but with costs and interest rates up, then it may be $650,000 per unit for acquisition and rehab
  • Meg Chapman asked about the intersection of NFPs with developers. Ted referred to the 51% and 49% rule. Supportive and affordable housing is mostly built it in a joint venture. The NFP is the one looking, and then it pairs up with a developer or does it by itself
  • John Mudd referred to the Trinity contractors and the smaller developers MSCC has worked with. Ted said it’s best to have a site first, so the conversation starts with, “hey, we have this hotel.”
  • Luana Green asked who would be served by the adapted hotels into housing 
    • Ted said that families and individuals . It does not say it’s specifically for people who are homeless
  • Luana asked if will there be supportive housing? 
    • It does not specifically say the housing is with services. Ted thinks it will provide services because NFPs and others are discussing on-site services
  • Ted said this second piece of legislation that the Governor signed is purely for regulatory relief. It requires affordable housing and that tenants are rent stabilized
  • Luana Green asked about the definition of affordability
    • The legislation uses the standard definitions of affordability. Must be approved by HPD, which will provide input into what is built. Ted thinks we will end up with deep affordability housing and will likely include rent subsidies and much more paired up with rent subsidies, where residents do not pay more than 30% of their income for rent, regardless of their income
  • Marni Halasa asked about the M1 zoned hotel to housing allowance for properties in proximity (two blocks) to residential zones. Ted said it has to be in R or C zones (residential zones) or within two blocks of R or C zone to prevent housing from being built in industrial wastelands
  • Marni Hasal asked if the mandatory two blocks were restrictive and inhibits the number of hotels available and if it would be better to be expanded. Ted noted a lot of opposition at 800 ft, which Ted thought was reasonable, but the consensus was 2 blocks. Ted also noted it was purposeful by some to reduce the availability of hotels 
  • Nancy Young asked if this housing could be used for emergencies, e.g., a smaller hotel to be converted to a respite or shelter. Ted noted the Honda Bill was a funding bill for permanent housing, not a shelter. The second piece of legislation passed a few weeks ago was a regulatory bill that allows hotels to be converted into permanent housing by keeping their C of O. Hotels can already be converted to shelters because they come under the same zoning. This Bill does not change any of that 
https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/new-york-elections-government/ny-nyc-hotel-to-housing-law-gov-hochul-mayor-adams-20220607-5nno3bmv6rfypiw7rp7lp4ihbq-story.html?mc_cid=148247b9b5&mc_eid=2650519a38

Chatbox

  • Ted Houghton “On the recently signed hotel to housing conversion law: Just to confirm, the law requires any housing created to be permanently affordable to households earning 60% of Area Median Income or less. The legislation specifically mentions formerly homeless households. Most conversions are anticipated to create permanent housing with on-site services for formerly homeless and very low-income New Yorkers. The text of the law can be found here: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S4937

NETWORK UPDATES

Sophia Brown, Communications for Congresswoman Carolyn MaloneyU.S. representative for New York’s 12th congressional district (includes most of Manhattan’s East SideAstoria, and Long Island City in QueensGreenpoint, Brooklyn, and Roosevelt Island. Would like to connect on ways we can help fight back against NYCHA privatization and how Congress can take action. Congresswoman Maloney went through a similar fight against private development and RAD at Stanley Isaacs. We would love to learn more from tenants about what would be most helpful to support them and amplify their concerns. Reach out to Sophia’s cell is 973-883-5308 sophia@carolynmaloney.com

Bennett Reinhardt, Open Hearts Initiatives counteracting NIMBYism throughout the city (see The City’s article here). Organizes coalitions across the city to address the many concerns about the misguided policies of closing hotels used for shelters. The month of July was an action each day toward working through the issues of stopping this from happening. Open Hearts is also working on stopping the sweeps of homelessness across the city. The Social media toolkit Bennett referred to is at https://docs.google.com/document/d/18v1uDegBmshq9iPVBQuZ57jcQWRoSE36h8ZyDQAa-OM/edit?usp=sharing. To learn more about July Homeless Rights Month and join. 

Open Hearts for events (including the march on Gracie Mansion on July 17) follow #HomelessRightsMonth. July Homeless Rights Month is led by a coalition of organizations, including Housing Works, VOCAL-NY, and Neighbors Together; contact bennett@openheartsinitiative.org!

Tina Fernandez, Shower Power, provides hygiene and showers to New Yorkers free of charge. Showers open @ 542 W 46th St (10th / 11th) on Mon, Wed, Sat from 8:30 am -1:00 pm. Looking for partners for a pantry. Looking for donations such as hygiene products and clothes. Please drop to 542 West 46th Street during the hours above. Contacts for Tina Fernandez – Shower Power: Tina@showerpowernyc.org. 914-979-0610. John Mudd notes that outreach in this area may be information. Tina is doing outreach in the area. John Mudd referred to the Back Pack Program also.

Sharon Jasprizza spoke about the https://weunlock.nyc/ tools website for people looking for housing within the voucher price point. The website has tools to report any source of income discrimination. You can report it using the great tools on the website. Unlock NYC will be at the August meeting. Reports are made about the discrimination and passed on for follow-up.

Luana Green, President of Chelsea Reform Democratic Club, Trying to prevent the Penn Plan from happening, also belongs to an outreach program servicing homeless and giving out city harvest food in East Harlem and Bronx areas. Luana will contact Tina regarding partnering with Shower Power for services. During the Pandemic, Luana’s group reached out with PPE, clothing and hygiene products, and shoes for people not being serviced. Every second Saturday, City Harvest is in the Bronx. As President of the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club Luana is also very interested in the housing issues, NYCHA, Hudson Yards, and developers taking over our community. On Thursday, a meeting is being held on zoom to work on a more visual and vocal protest in front of Penn Station. There is a need to make more noise to ensure the public knows. John Mudd notes it’s essential to save the housing that is threatened by this development

NYCHA AND SAVING SECTION 9

Marni Halasa, MSCC marnihalasa@gmail.com, 9175019444, Save Section 9 coalition, 

  • NYCHA residents do not want privatization
  • Thousands of people were evicted after the RAD conversion of the past
  • Strict house rules under RAD
  • If the Tenant can’t pay the rent, there is leeway under NYCHA, but under private management this changes dramatically where eviction starts within 14 days
  • Now that the Blue Print has passed, it means that if a developer defaults, a city council member can not intervene with city funding
  • The biggest priority is that Section 9 needs to be saved and protected because many seniors, low income, and people with disability need section 9
  • Another concerning feature of private management is the take over of public utilities, such as the basketball court, and the parking lot, for development 
  • Another issue relates to washers and dryers being taken out of apartments and creating laundry. This means that older tenants will be without their washers and have to pay for the use of the public laundry
  • The planned obsolescence of apartments paves the way for private developers to scoop up NYCHA builders and redevelop them for other purposes.
  • John Mudd noted it is important to bring the group together and work on the list of demands that Section 9 outlines
  • Sharon Jasprizza referred to the collective solutions presented to Congress, which Ramona referred to at the last meeting. The previous two paragraphs, 10 and 11, needed people to research and work with Ramona to pin these down further. Paragraph relates to the credit rating, and Paragraph 11 refers to the definition of affordable. Please email John.mudd@usa.net and Sharon at hello@midtownsouthcc.org for more information and your support
  • Marni highlighted the need for Section 9 lease to be grandfathered in rather than stopped
  • The meeting to protect tenants’ housing is held each week. Contact Marni about this meeting
  • Luana Green notes that the deterioration of NYCHA is intentional for the reasons Marni refers to above
  • Marni notes its extremely important people are educated about these issues so we can keep people safe
  • Marni noted that the protest against the Rent Guidelines Board was traumatizing because people were not considered.
  • Good cause conviction does not help tenants
  • John Mudd will add this issue to an agenda to discuss Good Cause Conviction and the policy decisions at the major housing groups—ask our housing partners to speak on this

Chatbox

  • Sharon Jasprizza noted, “the SAVE SECTION 9 (and NYCHA advocates) meet Wednesday nights at 7:30 pm. Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83727429468 Meeting ID: 837 2742 9468” and ‘savesection9.org for info and petition’
  • Carol Lamberg noted “The only way to save Section 9 is to obtain federal capital funds—it’s not easy.”

COMMITTEES

  • John Mudd spoke about extending this meeting if needed after the 10.30 am meeting. The extension could be for follow up on discussed items, community issues, or organizing actions
  • Street Sheet committee is working with The Midtown Community Court to expand distribution. John will email Erica Strang (LSCW) with an electronic copy
  • The Urban Farm Committee is looking for another space for another urban farm Email John.mudd@usa.net and Sharon at hello@midtownsouthcc.org for more information

COALITION FOR 100% AFFORDABLE 5WTC

Victoria Fariello | NY State Senate Candidate | Coalition for a 100% Affordable 5WTC 5 | https://affordabletower5.com vittoria@vittorianyc.com, 917-319-9943, affordabletower5.com

  • Coalition building is what makes things happen.
  • Pushing elected officials and clubs to work on supportive housing at 5wTC
  • We spend so much money and give a lot of tax credits to build luxury housing, so it’s important to use this money for affordable housing
  • Lower Manhattan has lost more affordable housing than any other district in the state because of privatization programs
  • NYCJA is under threat
  • Lower Manhattan is becoming the playground for the rich.
  • 5WTC is the opportunity to bring in a lot of affordable housing, possibly 1200 units
  • This area is a rich resource area: transport, government jobs, parks, playgrounds, etc
  • The feasibility study will be ready next week
  • Carol Lamberg noted no one realized these buildings would become more valuable and susceptive to privatization

NEXT Meeting Homeless and Housing Meeting: 9:30 am Tuesday, September 6, 2022 (Always the first Tuesday of every month)

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