Business Page

HOMELESS & HOUSING MEETING RECAP JUNE 6, 2023

(MSCC) Sharon Jasprizza, Posted: June 30, 2023

SUMMARY

Layla Law-Gisiko, President at The City Club of New York, CB5, Land Use Committee, Community-led plan for Madison Square Garden (MSG). Nichele Carver, the US Inter-Agency Council on Homelessness (USICH)

CHAIR: John Mudd

POLICY MEETING UPDATES

  • John Mudd noted that one of our members is seeking help for a CityFHEPS housing voucher which needs to be transferred to their name. Assistance is required to ensure the administration of this voucher is fast-tracked after 18 months of inaction.

MAY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The month of May saw a variety of greens and delicious vegetables planted at the MSCC Urban Farms in Midtown and upstate. The upstate farm, Furthermore Farm, now known as Paradise Hills, is under development and is expected to produce many more lbs. of fresh food than in our first year in 2022. MSCC welcomes Claudia Nagy from earthartscenter.com in the Catskills, who is partnering with MSCC to enhance the MSCC Urban Farm Program and support our many volunteers.  The MSCC Urban Farm Program addresses food deficits and increases access to fresh food for people living in shelters and those without in Midtown, New York.  MSCC harvested approx. 1,400 lbs. in 2022 from both farms
  • Layla Law-Gisiko, one of our MSCC members, has been selected to serve as President of The City Club of New York, as announced by Rachel Miller. Executive Manager, City Club of New York, on May 29, 2023. We wish Layla every success and look forward to progressing our work with Layla in the future

SPECIAL INTRODUCTION(S) and UPDATES

  • Ben Joiner, MCC Community First, bjoiner@nycourts.gov, 6467892916, works with people experiencing homelessness and meets them where they are, such as water, hygiene, mental health, substance abuse treatment, and housing. Accessibility to vouchers and people not old enough for Medicaid are common issues.
  • Lili Lopez, Outreach Specialist, NY Connects, Manhattan and Brooklyn, 646-457-5364 llopez@cidny.org. NY Connects is a free-of-charge program that connects people with any disability or age to services and resources or can be based on people’s needs.  Contact NY Connects at 844-862-7930
  • John Benfatti RYSEC, all activities have been suspended. RYSEC is refocusing its purpose and restructuring its organization. John will update the committee when things change

ACTIONS

MOVING MADISON SQUARE GARDE

Layla Law-Gisiko, President at The City Club of New York, CB5, Land Use Committee, Community-led plan, laylademay@gmail.com

  • Maddison Square Garden (MSG) needs a special permit from the City to operate with a capacity of over 2,500 guests in the arena. The current license was issued for ten years and is expiring in July this year
  • MSG is in the process of having a new special permit evaluated by the city. The City needs to determine if MSG is compatible with Penn Station. Last week on Friday, June 2, 2023, the three railroads, Amtrack, MTA, and New Jersey Transit, issued a report at the request of the City Planning Commission. The report said MSG is not compatible.
  • Please testify on June 7, 2023, at the City Planning Commission hearing in person or online at https://www.nyc.gov/site/nycengage/events/city-planning-commission-public-meeting/428785/1. The main points to promote are 1.  MSG is incompatible, and MSG needs to be moved. MSG has moved four times in its history 2.  MSG is exempt from property taxes and has paid no taxes since 1992. They have saved more than a billion dollars in tax 3. There is a possible location east of 7th Avenue so that we can keep MSG in Midtown

DISCUSSION

  • When focusing on Penn Station, John Mudd, MSCC, spoke about the need to build housing in Midtown. There is a need to look at the big picture and how it impacts our communities
  • Layla Law-Gisiko, CB5, If MSG is removed, we can implement a “through running station” which can move trains through the station rather than using Penn Station as a terminal. This eliminates the need to take over the block in the South and thus our neighbors and friends from eminent domain and being kicked out of their homes. It has a preservation component and is a win-win situation. It’s up to us to push those in office that it’s their role to speak up and act. 
  • Nancy Pascal, MSCC, asked about the challenges of this scenario
  • Layla Law-Gisiko, CB5, responded that leadership is the issue. It is easy to do business as usual, but with leadership and a strong push, we can improve the plan where silos create small thinking. ts up to us to push those in office that it’s their role to speak up and act. The three levels of government needed to make this, and the power is in our voices. It’s a matter of equity, a value of being competitive and sustainable. Numerous countries worldwide are much further advanced and move their communities more quickly than we do in New York.

ACTIONS

US INTER-AGENCY COUNCIL ON HOMELESSNESS (USICH) UPDATES

Nichele Carver, Senior Regional Advisor, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness

  • Responsible for all New England, New York, and New Jersey
  • Meets with government and state officials, service providers, NFP, and people with lived experience to seek the type of services are needed
  • USICH does not provide funds, but people are encouraged to advocate for funding for housing in their areas
  • Nichelle is currently meeting with the new Deputy Mayor of New York City to pursue actions for homelessness. The Mayor, Eric Adams, has not yet shown progress for homelessness and uplifted the voices heard during today’s meeting regarding housing, vouchers, and more
  • If you have other topics that need to be voiced with government officials, including the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, and their teams. Please email John.mudd@usa.net with your ideas
  • Ending homelessness helps everyone, not just people who are without housing. When people are housed, healthy, and working, they all have financial gains. The economy booms from the financial progress of a productive community 
  • The country varies in its needs. USICH is mindful of policies supporting some states that may impact others. As a result, the Federal Government is sued by some States or communities that do not consider these impacts appropriate, e.g., pipelines, sanctuary cities, and abortion policies. Thus USICH understands it’s important to fight differently in various communities. Much of this dissension and gridlock comes from the fear of loss of power.  Money is the secondary gain. When everyone is equal, people lose control and feel they need to fight for power in whichever way they can. 

DISCUSSION

  • Nichele Carver, Senior Regional Advisor, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, The country’s needs vary. USICH is mindful that policies that support some states may impact other States. As a result, the Federal Government is sued by some States or communities that do not consider some impacts appropriate, e.g., pipelines, sanctuary cities, and abortions. USICH thus understands it’s important to fight differently. Much of the dissension comes from the fear of losing power, while money is the secondary gain. When everyone is equal, then people lose power
  • Nancy Pascal, MSCC,asks for examples relating to lawsuits relating to lottery systems
  • Nichele Carver, Senior Regional Advisor, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, is unaware of any national lawsuits relating to lotteries because not everyone does the same. However, Nichele will research if there are any in New York regarding this topic. Nichele will put people in touch with one another where problems are the same to ensure info is shared
  • Charisma White, MSCC, has a voucher and medical conditions and has made no progress for seven years. 
  • John Mudd, MSCC, spoke about the many barriers Charisma has faced and continues to face
  • Nichele Carver, Senior Regional Advisor, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, never give up, even small wins, always ask for more. A need to be loud about changing zoning and repurposing buildings
  • John Mudd, MSCC, referred to Thomas Angotti, Professor Emeritus of Urban Policy and Planning at Hunter College and the Graduate Center City University of New York, who spoke with the MSCC Homeless and Housing Committee in November 2022. Tom is the author of many books, including Zoned Out! Race, Displacement, and City Planning in New York City. Tom will be a good contact for Nichele, and John will connect Nichelle with Tom. John is also organizing a panel to support Nichele’s work and will discuss this at a later date
  • Alex Yong, WSNA NYC, Member of the End Apartment Warehousing Coalition, Alex was able to get a free attorney when his Landlord tried to evict him last year through Local Law 54, called the Right to Counsel, and is for the five boroughs. New York was the first City in the Nation to implement this new Law, and 17 other states have been inspired. Alex wants to know if Nichele has met with Right to Counsel and will email Alex the /Bloomberg article 
  • Nichele Carver, Senior Regional Advisor, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, will reach out to Right to Counsel
  • Carol Lamberg, Author and housing advocate,outlined the semi-perm project where people would stay in apartments for 2 or 3 years with services until stable housing was found. The success rate was very high.
  • Nichele Carver, Senior Regional Advisor, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, referred to the Bridge Housing, an interim housing that sounds similar to Carol’s project. Nichele spoke about some of the rules that were not appropriate, e.g., no drinking in shelters when we can drink at home. Where behavior is belligerent, then rules are enforced
  • Nichele Carver, Senior Regional Advisor, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, spoke about some Mayors across the country who are open to black people living in their communities
  • Lorraine,  Community Member, worked in the 1990s with the Midtown Homeless Initiative, a city and state Initiative. Criteria to enter housing can be invasive, not appropriated and often leads to creating another class of people which is offensive
  • Maureen Melle, The psychosocial tests agencies require to place people in shelters and homes are invasive. The general population living in their homes is not required to complete these invasive tests. Why do we do this to people needing homes? 
  • Nichele Carver, Senior Regional Advisor, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness,“People who own homes receive mortgage credit. The mortgage credit is more than what people receive when paying rent. It’s important to remind people who own homes that they receive mortgage credits such as $7,000 when they complain about money spent on supporting people without homes. Homeowners are not required to fill out forms or go through drug tests to be supported to keep their homes”

CHAT BOX

  • Philip Malebranche, the mayor, won’t meet with you, but he complains about the lack of support from the Feds to handle the migrant crisis.
  • Carol Lamberg, If Section 8 were an entitlement, that would also be a good beginning—more permanent supportive housing. Adolfo Carrion is quite good
  • Alex Yong, WSNA NYC, Member of the End Apartment Warehousing Coalition: Can you uplift the Right To Counsel groups? Here in NYC, it’s called Local Law 54. The premise is, for tenants, similar to the Miranda right, “If you can not afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”  Local Law 54 (prev. known as Local Law 136) was won in 2017, and tenants got free lawyers, especially in 2018-2019. Then Covid-19 hit and messed everything up. There’s a national Right To Counsel coalition, and I hope you’re working with them or could.
  • Alex Yong, WSNA NYC, Member of the End Apartment Warehousing Coalition: (Note: The famous Miranda right {{{“If you can not afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you”}}} is about 18B lawyers (usually solo-practitioners who have contracted with NY State) AND DOES NOT APPLY TO TENANTS, and still doesn’t. Local Law 54 works very differently (Local Law 54 lawyers are from nonprofits, not solo practitioners)) I benefitted from Local Law 54 a few months ago when my landlord tried to evict me.
  • André P. Community member, Ms. Carver – Has USICH taken, formally or informally, a position for or against Mayor Adams’ attempts to dismantle the right to shelter in NYC? The City recently filed a motion in Callahan v. Carey to “modify” the consent decree.
  • Charisma White, MSCC, is relentless and does not give up. The mayor acts like he doesn’t know me every time he sees me.
  • André P, Community member, “Ms. Carver – Has USICH taken, formally or informally, a position for or against Mayor Adams’ attempts to dismantle the right to shelter in NYC? The City recently filed a motion in Callahan v. Carey to “modify” the consent decree.”
  • Nichele Carver, Senior Regional Advisor, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, The Biden/Harris administration has not taken a position against any mayors
  • André P. Community member, So the USICH will not oppose any attempts to dismantle the right to shelter?
  • Ben Joiner MCC Community First, bjoiner@nycourts.gov, 6467892916
  • Tamara Fellix, Center for Urban Community Services, tamara.felix@cucs.org
  • André P. Community member, Is there a concrete plan to find a new location for the Olivieri drop-in center if its block is razed? If our homeless folks are not served adequately, the solution is not to deny help to others.
  • Maureen Melle, Community member, we are used to seeing the people living on the street.  They’ve become invisible. 
  • André P. Community member, “Our voices get press too. We should speak up”
  • Ben Joiner, MCC Community First, it’s cheaper for the city to put people in housing than shelter; we can’t deny housing to immigrants just because the city hasn’t listened to us regarding homelessness. Solving both doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. I want us all to remember our common humanity and that there are ways to solve homelessness without denying it to people seeking asylum

ACTIONS

  • Please email John.mudd@usa.net with your ideas for Nichelle Carver to take to officials and their teams regarding housing, homelessness, vouchers, and related topics
  • John Mudd, MSCC, will connect Nichele with Thomas Angotti and will reach out for side meetings with the team, including Rob Robinson, Ted Houghton, and Kristen Richards
  • Nichele Carver, Senior Regional Advisor, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, “People who own homes receive mortgage credit. The mortgage credit is more than what people receive when paying rent. It’s important to remind people who own homes that they receive mortgage credits such as $7,000 when they complain about money spent on supporting people without homes. Homeowners are not required to fill out forms or go through drug tests to be supported to keep their homes”

COMMUNITY CONCERNS

  • John Mudd, MSCC, spoke about the Rent Guidelines Board and the need for people to submit and provide testimony. Contact john.mudd@usa.net for further information

NEXT Meeting Homeless and Housing Meeting: 9:30 AM Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Always the 1st Tuesday of every month. Contact hello@midtownsouthcc.org or john.mudd@usa.net for more information and Zoom invitations.