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HOMELESS & HOUSING MEETING RECAP: MAY 7, 2024  

MSCC, Sharon Jasprizza, Posted July 1, 2024

SUMMARY

Rob Robinson, Housing Advocate: On 23 April 2024, the US Supreme Court heard a case about criminalizing people without homes. The case challenges the ordinances of the small city of Grants Pass, Oregon. Ana Pluchinatta, Tenant Liaison Officer, Department of Building’s Office of Tenant Advocate (OTA): advocates for tenants experiencing construction-related harassment and focuses on documents submitted when construction workers have entered a building. Katy Lasell, Right to Counsel, a Statewide coalition fighting to end all evictions: The Right to Counsel was not included in this year’s NYS budget. The Right to Counsel legislation would establish the right to a free attorney for all tenants across NYS facing eviction. A housing deal did pass. It included a watered-down agreement of Good Cause Eviction but will protect many people not covered initially. Harvey Montague, AIA, Montague & Associates, Architecture Urban Design: Penn Station Area Urban Design PSAUD, determining the appropriate use of existing and new buildings for transportation, housing, health care, education, recreation, entertainment, and business.

CHAIR: John Mudd

POLICY MEETING UPDATES

There were no policy meeting updates.

APRIL HIGHLIGHTS

  • We are thrilled to announce that MSCC’s application for the 2024 Spring Cycle has successfully secured funding from the West Side Community Fund for our Urban Farm Program. This is a significant win for MSCC and a testament to our team’s hard work and dedication. The Urban Farm Program, which provides fresh, locally grown produce and educational opportunities, is set to grow even more. With this funding, we can expand our program and reach even more individuals, impacting our community’s health and sustainability.

We are grateful to the West Side Community Fund for its support and belief in our mission: to impact our community and empower individuals to lead healthier, more sustainable lives. Thank you to all our supporters and volunteers who have helped make this possible. Together, we are creating a brighter, healthier future for our community.

  • We are thrilled to announce that MSCC and the amazing housing team have secured housing for a community member after months of hard work and dedication. It has been a long road of administration, paperwork, and follow-up, but we are excited that our member will move into her new apartment in May. Thank you to everyone who played a part in making this possible. #housingvictory #communitysupport #MSCCimpact ????????
  • MSCC’s Art & Culture Program continues to support local artists in New York City, and we are excited to announce the launch of Carl Kissin’s new Art & Culture Program, “Improv and Beyond,” in Long Island City! Join an improv class that goes beyond  utilizing improv to create stand-up, storytelling, solo work, and more. Classes start on June 6th; don’t miss out! And, if you’d rather stay closer to the Midtown South area, there is also a drop-in improv class on Tuesday nights, 7-9 pm, on West 59th Street. For details, Email kissinimprov@gmail.com or call 917-692-5000.   #improv #NYCclasses #comedy #longislandcity #midtownsouth #kissinimprov

SPECIAL INTRODUCTION(S) AND OR UPDATES: 

  • Marni Halasa, MSCC: updated on the effort to create the NYC Coaches Collective, which could be the world’s first union of figure skating coaches. reported that Chelsea Piers, which owns Sky Rink, said the terminations were not an act of union busting and described them as part of the “normal course of business.” But the coaches say the reason for the firings was to squash the union and scare others away from organizing.” Marni believes it’s important that infrastructure is put in place for the future
  • Rob Robinson, Housing Advocate: National Spoke about a Case before the US Supreme Court on 23 April 2024 where the ordinances of a small city of Grants Pass, Oregon, were challenged. People sleeping on the street are fined $295 for using blankets, pillows, and cardboard boxes while sleeping in Boise. Amy Howe reported on April 19, 2024, that “The Supreme Court will hear oral argument on Monday in a case that one legal expert has called the “most important Supreme Court case about homelessness in at least 40 years.” The issue before the court is the constitutionality of ordinances in an Oregon town that bar people who are homeless from using blankets, pillows, or cardboard boxes for protection from the elements while sleeping within the city limits. Defending the ordinances, the city contends that the laws simply bar camping on public property by everyone. But the challengers in the case counter that the ordinances effectively make it a crime to be homeless in the city.”
  • The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (Law Center)  and ‘A host of organizations submitted amicus briefs in support of counsel representing homeless residents, saying laws punishing individuals for being homeless are cruel and unusual. The briefs also argued the laws do nothing to solve the homelessness crisis and will likely exacerbate the issue.’ 
  • The US Supreme Court refused to hear a similar case on December 16, 2019, “Its decision to not review Martin v. City of Boise” as it only agreed to hear cases where there is a circuit split. Maria Foscarinis, Founder and Executive Director National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, USA, reported, “By denying the petition, the High Court left in place a ruling from the federal court of appeals for the Ninth Circuit stating that “[a]s long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property, on the false premise they had a choice in the matter.” This ruling is binding on the nine states in Circuit–Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Hawaii, Montana, Arizona, and Alaska— and sets precedent that is persuasive in courts nationally. It’s a victory for everyone fighting against the criminalization of the homeless.”
  • There has been a change in the Supreme Court since the Martin v City of Boise case; It’s important we know who is put on the Supreme Court and must make our voices heard
  • Even though we have the right to shelter in NYC (which is the right to housing), the numbers of people without housing continue to increase: 15 years ago, there were 28,000 people each night in shelters, and 325 shelters, now there are 85,000 people in shelters and close to 600 shelters 

DEPARTMENT OF BUILDING’S OFFICE OF TENANT ADVOCATE

Ana Pluchinatta, Tenant Liaison Officer, Department of Building’s Office of Tenant Advocate (OTA) (Ana is one of two tenant liaisons)

  • advocates for tenants experiencing construction-related harassment and focuses on documents that have been submitted when construction workers have entered a building
  • conducts audits of tenants’ protection plans (TPP) to determine if the protections listed on the document are sufficient for the scope of work
  • works with inspectors who respond to tenants’ complaints and other issues in the jurisdiction of construction. Complaints that fall outside the jurisdiction are directed to the appropriate agency
  • Local Law 159 of 2017requires your building owner to post or distribute a Safe Construction Bill of Rights (SCBR), and at the same time, a permit application for a major construction/renovation or emergency work is filed with DOB. Your building owner is required to notify you of the work by distributing the SCBR to all tenants or posting the SCBR in a prominent location in the building lobby and on every floor within 10 feet of every elevator bank in a building with no elevator, within 10 feet of or inside every main stairwell. The notice must remain posted until the permitted work is completed. The SCBR must include all the information below, and it must be posted in English and made available in Spanish, Arabic, Haitian Creole, Chinese, Korean, and Russian, as necessary:
  1. a description of the type of work being done and the locations in the building where the work will take place 
  2. the hours of construction, a projected timeline for the completion of the work 
  3. a description of the amenities or essential services that are anticipated to be unavailable or interrupted during the work and how the owner will minimize interruption
  4. contact information, including a telephone number, for an agent or employee of the owner who can be reached for non-emergency matters pertaining to the work being performed contact information, including a telephone number, for an agent or employee of the owner who can be reached for emergency matters pertaining to the work being performed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the period of construction; 
  5. and contact information for the relevant City and State agencies where occupants may submit complaints or ask questions about the work being performed.

DISCUSSION

  • John Mudd, MSCC, refers to the difficulty of contacting staff and if there is a need for more staff to ensure people are heard and issues progress. Should we advocate for more funding and staff? John will add Ana to the June Homeless and Housing meeting agenda
  • Ana Pluchinatta, Tenant Liaison Officer, Department of Building’s Office of Tenant Advocate (OTA), replied there is a number publicly available, but delays can happen. Ana is happy to talk further about how the community can help
  • Alex Yong, WSNA, End Apartment Warehousing, does the office accept videos from tenants?
  • Ana Pluchinatta, Tenant Liaison Officer, Department of Building’s Office of Tenant Advocate (OTA), yes, but the inspectors cannot present this evidence in court. NYCHA has its team to respond to maintenance issues

CHATBOX

RIGHT TO COUNSEL

Katy Lasell, Right to Counsel, a Statewide coalition fighting to end all evictions

  • The Right to Counsel was not included in this year’s NYS budget. The Right to Counsel legislation would establish the right to a free attorney for all tenants across NYS facing eviction. However, legislators did begin to understand this during the negotiations and fought more for amendments. However, the Governor was not ready to sign the amended version. At the last minute, the Governor wanted to move funding from IOLA (Interest on Lawyer Accounts) to the general fund. It was a strange move, and it was possibly made to look like funding was being made available for tenants. This did not happen
  • A housing deal did pass. It included a watered-down agreement of Good Cause Eviction but will protect a lot of people not covered initially 
  • There were many concessions for landlords, such as the rollback of the Individual Apartment (IA) cap, where landlords can increase rents for renovation compensation. This loophole has been continually exploited.   Replaced the 421A tax incentive with the 485X tax incentive, where developers have the potential to be exempt from taxes for up to 40 years

 DISCUSSION

  • John Mudd, MSCC, discussion of last year’s budget and the changes this year
  • Rob Robinson, Housing Advocate, the contradiction is reducing taxes while pulling money from the poor people who are not likely to vote for the Governor
  • Alex Yong, WSNA NYC, Member of the End Apartment Warehousing: from August 20, 2024, there will be a requirement for landlords to give notice to tenants whether Good Cause protects them or not

CHATBOX

  • Alex Yong, WSNA NYC, Member of the End Apartment Warehousing: IOLA is Interest on Lawyer Accounts
  • Carol Lamberg, Community member: Yes, there have been successes. However, “good” nonprofit organizations need to collect rent and painfully evict tenants who don’t pay. It’s very difficult.

CONCEPTUALIZING A BETTER HOUSING LANDSCAPE

Harvey Montague, AIA, Montague & Associates, Architecture Urban Design (Please note: All rights reserved Concept and Timeline PSAUD Penn Station Area Urban Design Montague & Associates LLC Architecture Urban Design May 7, 2024)

  • May 7, 2024 9:30 AM MSCC Midtown South Community Council Conceptualizing better landscapes for the public Harvey Montague, AIA , Architecture Urban Design Introduction follows: Good Morning! Thank you John and the Midtown South Community Council for your invitation to present my concepts for housing, urban design, and Penn station. I am a New Yorker. I grew up in Queens. My father had his office in Midtown Manhattan. Midtown is very familiar to me. Later I lived in Westchester and Grand Central Station was my destination. Now for the past 12 years, I commute into Manhattan from New Jersey. I arrive at Penn Station. I can definitely say Penn Station is no Grand Central! I was reviewing the various proposals for a Penn station project. Some to make it a safer, some prettier, some more accessible, and some reminiscent of the past. Some of these proposals in my mind do not fully address the challenge of what New York wants Penn Station to be. What is missing is a holistic approach to the challenge, or what our profession does; Urban Design. I want to consider the needs of the city as a whole, the needs of the community. the needs of the people. It must be a world class destination, a place to live and work, a place to shop and browse, to relax and recreate. I propose my Project P S A U D, Penn Station Area Urban Design with this as my goal. I had meetings with Community leaders, proponents of various concepts, and my professional colleagues. I have prepared this presentation to address the issues surrounding the growing need for housing for the elderly population so as we age with dignity. To enhance and revitalize our urban environment. This is how to make Penn Station live again, Conceptualizing better landscapes for the public. This is my proposal: 

The presentation concentrated on and can be found HERE:

  • Affordable housing needs, demographics, elderly, single occupant +1 and Universal Design. • Penn Station Area Urban Design PSAUD, determining appropriate use of existing and new buildings for transportation, housing, health care, education, recreation, entertainment, and business. • Housing production costs reduction with modular and prefabrication and labor and supplier agreements. • Zoning as a tool for development incentives and urban design and planning. • 7A HPD, understanding and implementation, who is qualified to manage and what are the advantages. • Citizens, municipal agencies, developers, architects, urban designers, and planners promoting development of affordable housing

The 16/16* Concept and Timeline *16 years/16 billion is presented as the following stages:

  • 1. Present an Urban Planning Concept: DZC 8/2/2023, MSCC 5/7/24 
  • 2. Madison Square Garden, MSG, moving to new location in 2 to 9 years 
  • 3. Understand the phasing and scope of the Gateway Project 2035 
  • 4. Provide safety and ADA upgrades to existing Penn Station 
  • 5. Design a phased project with Penn Station North, PSN, and Penn 
  • 6. Construction of 31 St Galleria with shops and services a la Vittorio 
  • 7. Design for thru-running trains, high speed trains, and for added platforms
  • 8. Implement relocation and mitigation for Block 780, fair and equitable
  • 9. Construction of PSS and relocate trains (2028) 
  • 10. Construction of affordable housing (2024-2035)
  • 11. Construction of New PSN (2033-2040) 
  • 12. Project Complete (2040) 

The slides also demonstrate how each of the phases is interrelated. The colors indicate the various land uses, while the aerial view provides the connecting theme and a sense of space. This is a conceptual design rather than an architectural design. Enclosed space designs offer ideas on how to enclose Penn Station. MSG must be eventually moved. Other projects Harvey has worked on include a transit-based project in Harlem to include mixed-use land use, housing, and education needs of the community, and designed 250 units for older people at Boston House to blend with the neighborhood, to include direct outdoor space, eliminated over sink cupboards and provided pantries instead. Harvey is doing this a pro bono project currently but will set up an NFP with interested parties to progress ideas

DISCUSSION

  • Alex Yong, WSNA NYC, Member of the End Apartment Warehousing: asked Harvey how the Boston project improved on the HUD standards.
  • Harvey Montague, AIA, Montague & Associates, Architecture Urban Design: noted that the project did more than HUD required for the Boston development.
  • Luana Green, MSCC: asked about the relocation and mitigation for residents of Block 780. Rethink New York has done a lot of work on “through running”
  • Harvey Montague, AIA, Montague & Associates, Architecture Urban Design: The narrow tracks at Penn Station may pose a problem when constructing the new tunnel, potentially impacting demolition. Further study is needed to determine the extent of this issue. Moving MSG and removing its columns from the platform below could allow for the construction of the tunnels without the need to remove block 780. Harvey has discussed the concept of “through running” with both Layla Law and Sam Turvey, gaining an understanding of the associated challenges
  • Rob Robinson, Housing Advocate, teaches students about implementing alternate progressive ways of development. National groups can help lift Harvey’s work for alternate ways of development. Rob will contact Harvey to take this further
  • Marni Halasa, MSCC, Andrew Berman(an architectural and cultural heritage preservationist in New York City. He is known for being an opponent of new housing construction in New York City), has an excellent presentation about affordable housing being demolished for development. A moratorium needs to be on affordable living units. Marni thinks the new gateway tunnels may take 15 years to build at $50 million and will bring in many more commuters. Does this open the door for more luxury residential towers, and does this change the nature of the neighborhood, such as Hudson Yards? Tenants are not given a seat at the table when development is planned
  • Harvey Montague, AIA, Montague & Associates, Architecture Urban Design: change will happen, and upgrades are needed; thus, working on these issues together is essential. Boston is ahead of New York at developments where these considerations were part of community discussions
  • Theodore Liebman, FAIA, Perkins-Eastman Urban Design: Harvey’s urban plan considers the entire neighborhood. It’s essential to consider many aspects, such as commuter buses, increasing the density in other areas, such as Long Island and West Chester, so that people can commute comfortably and easily to NYC

NEXT Meeting Homeless and Housing Meeting: 9:30 AM Tuesday, June 4, 2024

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