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Homeless And Housing Recap May 3, 2022

Tuesday, May 3, 2022, Time: 9:30 am-10:30 am Zoom

SUMMARY

Community research (Community Speaks) survey, Adaptive Reuse Updates, (Westhab) developments, Empire Station Development, Medicare

CHAIRS: John Mudd and Sharon Jasprizza

Minutes: Sharon Jasprizza

WELCOME / INTRODUCTIONS

John Mudd outlined the purpose of the meeting and introductions

POLICY MEETING (8:30AM) UPDATES

  • Sharon Jasprizza (MSCC) discussed the steps the MSCC’s health committee is taking to protect Medicare from corporate takeover
  • Sharon Jasprizza spoke of the recent Office of Inspector General findings that, “Some Medicare Advantage Organization Denials of Prior /authorization Requests Raise Concerns about Beneficiary Access to Necessary Care.”

Discussion

  • John Mudd (MSCC) spoke of the research MSCC has done
  • Francine Perlman (resident) spoke about her Medicare Advantage Program, noting that her program was good. Francine notes that Medicare also needs to be investigated
  • Lawrence Wheatman (resident) has original Medicare through ARRP and noted that Fracine is mistaken and her coverage is not a Medicare Advantage Program, and affirmed Medicare is excellent
  • Nancy Pascal (MSCC) noted that people don’t always understand what they belong to. People are denied care; Advantage programs are targeting fragile communities who often don’t realize that they can have Medicare
  • Susan Numeroff asked if Joe Namath understood what he was promoting in the TV commercials?
  • Nancy Pascal noted the video with the Congress outlining the issues would be helpful
  • John Mudd will add the video the next month’s meeting

SPECIAL INTRODUCTION(S) AND OR UPDATES: 

  • Gina Krupp spoke about the Open Hearts’ Initiative of Welcome bags for incoming residents in the neighborhood. A group of volunteers, including John and Sharon from MSCC helped pack the gift bags for 60 residents on Sunday, May 1, 2022
  • Jordan Feiner, Liaison to Community Board 4 Office of Council Member Erik Bottcher, JFeiner@council.nyc.gov, 212-564-7757
  • Tina Fernandez, Executive Director – Shower Power. Tina@showerpowernyc.org  Shower Power will be operating from the Salvation Army site on 46th Street b/t 10th & 11th.  An official announcement will be made when the opening date is confirmed
  • Erik Strazza, Community Coordinator, Manhattan District Attorney’s Office; Phone: (212) 335-4310; Email: strazzae@dany.nyc.gov, spoke about the New Pathways to Public Safety Initiative, which has been created to address mental health, drug abuse, and addiction. The initiative wants to connect people, especially homeless people with social services. 
  • Rue Parkin, HelpNYC, rue@helpNYC.co, is looking for programs that provide food assistance bags. He said he could provide volunteers to help pack bags, in exchange he would like to have his Flyers placed in the Pantry Bags. If you are interested in this program, please sign up at https://www.helpnyc.info/listingpartner/pantry-bag-flyers-registration.  
  1. The HelpNYC Board has honored the three midtown organizations and will be presenting certificates at the Garden Party on May 24 to St Thomas Soup Kitchen, Shower Power, and Recharge Program at Housing Works. 
  2. Garden Party Partner Tickets: HelpNYC is offering 50% off on tickets to the helpNYC 2022 Garden Party on May 24, presented in part by Housing Works!  Use the code ‘PARTNERS’ to get your tickets at www.helpNYC.co/events
  3. Rue is organizing a Community Fridges Virtual Townhall on Thursday, May 26 at 7:00p to find ways helpNYC support Community Fridge Organizers in helping those experiencing food insecurity find food immediately. Register at www.helpNYC.co/events
  4. If you’re interested in joining the Housing Voucher Workgroup/Coalition, please shoot Rue at rue@helpNYC.info
  5. Register for all events at https://www.helpnyc.co/events.

WESTHAB

Gilbert G. Soto, Assistant Vice President, Westhab Inc. NYC Housing Programs, Gilbert.Soto@westhab.org 914-606-1043

  • Westhab focuses on financial stability, training, and housing
  • Westhab works throughout the city and has ten different facilities. The newest one is the Park Savoy, located at 158 West 58th Street. Due to community contention, it’s taken many years to open; however, since opening in November 2021, an outpouring of support has occurred. Eighty clients are either in employment or employment ready 
  • Gilbert is looking to connect with people and organizations to support each other’s work

Discussion

  • John Mudd spoke about the street sheets being added to the welcome packages referred to above for the new residents at Savoy
  • Rue Parkin noted the need to ensure we all work together to educate people, including landlords and realtors, about vouchers and referred to the program at HelpNYC for voucher holders. Rue will connect with Gilbert about this program
  • Sharon Jasprizza noted the need to collect stories and referred to the stories on MSCC’s YouTube channel, and asked Gilbert to reach out 

ADAPTIVE REUSE: HOTELS TO HOUSING

Ted Houghton, President of Gateway Housing

  • Ted spoke about the logical consequences of not investing in housing and shelter in Los Angeles and the effect on the increased number of encampments in the last few years in LA
  • The mayor had a press conference on Sunday, May 1, with the Speaker, Hotel Trades Council, Senator Brian Kavanagh, NYS, Steven Cymbrowitz, NYS Assembly, to promote a Bill, which Gateway Housing and MSCC promoted, converting hotels to housing. We have been trying to pass this Bill since February 2021. Hopeful this Press conference will show the universal support for the Bill, and it will pass before the end of the session, June 2, 2022. If this happens, some hotels in light manufacturing districts can be turned into shelters. If they are within 400 feet of residential zoning usage, those hotels will be eligible to be turned into affordable housing. Tenants would have status and rent stabilization. There is also an accompanying $200 million for the HONDA Bill to help fund conversions. The legislation provides some code flexibility for hotels if they continue to observe the hotel code for which they were built. This means they could be used for housing. The code is 150 sq feet of living space. However, some hotels have 140 sq feet, which is slightly lower than the code, but still may be possible to be converted into permanent housing. Its been a long haul, but the Press conference was helpful for the passage of the Bill
  • There are a couple of hotels in Midtown that could be turned into housing rather than shelter if this legislation is passed

COMMUNITY SPEAKS

  • Giovanna Antoniazzi, Student of Columbia University, ga2525@columbia.edu working on the Community Speaks Project since 2021
  • Community Speaks the first of its kind microdata collection policy tool kit 
  • Hoping to rebuild the post-pandemic New York City with partnerships such as Midtown South Community Council
  • Significant gaps in secondary knowledge of pandemic socio-economic impacts on health and people’s social shock, especially on low-income families, small businesses, and minority communities
  • Community Speaks believes microdata is crucial for designing programs and providing resources 
  • Microdata is vital for monitoring and measuring the impact of any new policies and programs
  • The results can be used by government decision-makers, policymakers, and community organizations  
  • This is the third survey round and will be closing on May 30. Need to have as many responses as possible
  • Tell Communities Speak how the COVID19 pandemic has impacted your community by taking the new Communities Speak survey at https://www.communitiesspeakproject.com/survey to make your voice heard in the NYC pandemic recovery. Please share the link with your networks
  • The survey is being expanded to other cities across the USA in July 

Discussion

  • John Mudd noted the data could be shaped for other needs, e.g., the number of housing units needed and how we need to quantify the needs
  • Giovanna replied with the process using zip codes, neighborhoods, and partners. The survey is ongoing and constantly adapting to represent the needs of New Yorkers better

HEALTHCARE

  • John Mudd spoke about The Health and Housing Consortium’s two-day medical respite bed forum. The Consortium is invited to speak at one of the MSCC meetings in the future. John spoke about the movement taking over health care, including medical respite beds. John talked about the research MSCC is doing to work on transforming a hotel into a medical respite center. 
  • Dan Pichinson spoke about the benefits of medical respite, including cost-effectiveness and improved health outcomes. Inpatient care is costly
  • Ted Houghton noted that managed care companies and hospitals need to take steps to pay for them
  • John Mudd spoke to the MSCC’s  Columbia report, which includes the following actions: Medical respite beds, street medicine, hospital adjacent shelters, combating nimby, housing clinical coordinator, insurance (Medicare) enrollment, record sharing, and housing (See Promo Trailer for the ReportFull ReportPowerPoint PresentationZoom Presentation)
  • Sharon Jasprizza spoke about some of the above actions, committee work, and messaging the Health Committee is involved in
  • Please connect with MSCC to support the committee work
  • Congressional hearing with Katie Porter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6l4YZSRTNGw on protecting Medicare 
  • MSCC is cosponsoring: Stop the Corporate takeover of Medicare hearing on May 23, 2022 (see video)

EMPIRE STATION DEVELOPMENT (ESD) 

  • Lawrence Wheatman, LW13@nyu.edu, raised the Vornado and Penn Station development topic
  • Lawrence, resident and activist, spoke about a meeting on Monday, May 2, 2022, with CB5, where Vornado reps acknowledged Vornado has no plans for Madison Square Garden (MSG) to move even after being given a ten-year extension to do so. Vornado has not paid taxes since the 1980s. It was awarded a ten-year lease extension with the promise that Vornado would move MSG by the end of that extension 
  • John Mudd spoke about the projects impact on housing, the 421-a scam, good deal for the developer, but not for the public. The 421-a doesn’t produce affordable rentals, the historical use shows this to be true
  • Lawrence spoke about the tax burden from the Hudson Yard development. Funds allocated to poor neighborhoods were diverted to cover deficits that the Hudson Yards created. There are millions of sq feet of empty office space, 50% or so of commercial renters came from Midtown, leaving Midtown empty
  • Lawrence spoke about the Penn development destroying 2300 apartments, with no guarantee of affordable housing being provided
  • John Mudd spoke about the Coalition and the officials meeting on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 regarding this development and its impact on housing and community
  • Marni Halasa, MSCC, and activist, via the Chatbox regarding Erik Botcher’s position on this development and also noted, “Too bad the general public was not privy to the Penn Station redevelopment Working Group—which operated in secret, and all the people involved had to sign a nondisclosure agreement. This violated the NYS Sunshine Laws. I wonder if that rises to a level of a crime—violation of Open Meetings Law, which allows real estate to rig the process.”
  • John Mudd will inform the results of Wednesday’s meeting at the next Homeless and Housing meeting

Discussion

  • Eric Strazzer, in the chatbox, noted for Lawrence if there is “specific conduct you think our office should investigate, we would encourage you to report it to one of our hotlines. The Financial Crimes Hotline (at 212-335-8900) might be most relevant here”

PUBLIC CONCERNS

  • Susan Numeroff is curious about the affordable housing at the 5 WTC and if MSCC supports this program. Susan will follow up with Vittoria Fariello, NY State Senate Candidate
  • John Mudd suggested Susan invite Vittoria to discuss with MSCC and the next meeting
  • John Mudd spoke about the Stitch Bar (247 West 37th Street) Rally to be held on Saturday evening, May 7, 2022, to promote the work of the Coalition and inform the public of what is at stake for Midtown as a result of the Penn development. John will continue to send out invites
  • Smitty Smith, a Hell’s Kitchen resident, supports the Open Hearts Initiative, which was formed to counteract the Nimbyism in the early part of COVID when the hotels were opened as shelters on the Upper West Side (UWS). Open Hearts has evolved to support the neighbors. One gesture has been providing and delivering welcome kits to support people moving into shelters and housing. Other projects are being developed and include engaging people in the neighborhoods to support these new neighbors such as partnering with The Arts League. Lawrence, LW13@nyu.edu, and Smitty will connect after the meeting

NEXT Meeting Homeless and Housing Meeting: 9:30 am Tuesday, June 7, 2022 

Always the 1st Tuesday of every month

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