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HOMELESS & HOUSING MEETING RECAP: TUESDAY, MARCH 5, 2024  

MSCC, Sharon Jasprizza, 9.30 AM, Zoom

SUMMARY: Steven King, DHS, kingst@dhs.nyc.gov, NYC has taken in over 180,000 people since the migrant crisis started. Arielle Hersh, UHAB, Director of Policy and New Projects. And Elise Goldin, New Economy Project, COPA and TOPA policies have been successful around the country since the 1980s. 

POLICY MEETING UPDATES

There were no Homeless and Housing Policy Updates

FEBRUARY HIGHLIGHTS

  • MSCC’s 2024 Greater Good Series was a groundbreaking event that united diverse experts, advocates, community members, and elected officials to tackle pressing issues facing Midtown and beyond head-on. The series, comprising four powerful forums spread over February and early March 2024, delved deep into health, housing, public housing, and urbanization, sparking meaningful conversations and inspiring action. Each forum had between 50 and 140 participants attending The People’s Forum, 320 W. 37th Street (btw 8th & 9th Ave), New York City, and more than 290 participants attending via Zoom over the four forums
  • The Midtown South Community Council’s Health Before Profits at The People’s Forum was featured in the Unhomelessness NYC Exhibition. https://unhomelessnyc.commons.gc.cuny.edu/events/ 

HOMELESSNESS BY THE NUMBERS

Steven King, DHS, kingst@dhs.nyc.gov

  • Prior to Covid, there were between 50,000 and 60,000 people in NYC shelters
  • Will Freeman, October 5, 2023, 1:25 pm (EST), reports in a Council on Foreign Relations article Why New York Is Experiencing a Migrant Crisis, that“The arrival of more than one hundred thousand migrants and asylum seekers in New York City and other major U.S. cities over the past year has sparked renewed debate over U.S. immigration policy.”
  • This is a 53% increase, as reported in the Mayors Management Report (MMR) dated January 2024
  • In November 2023, there were 88,000 people in NYC shelters
  • Vacancy is less, and consequently, placing is a juggling act
  • Trying to open new shelters, but pushback from communities and the cost of buildings limit new shelters from opening
  • Outreach teams are finding it harder to place people with an increased population looking for shelter
  • The housing vacancy survey noted that the 2023 city vacancy was 1.14%. Anything under 5% is an emergency 
  • The Office of Emergency Management runs migrant processing 
  • Paul Liotta | pliotta@siadvance.com reported on Mar. 15, 2024, “New York City will no longer be legally required to shelter many migrant adults after 30 days following a court-supervised mediation between the city and the Legal Aid Society. Under the agreement, some requirements of the “right to shelter” in the five boroughs will be lifted for single adult migrants. Those 23 and older will be given 30 days of shelter without the ability to reapply unless they demonstrate an extenuating circumstance necessitating an additional stay or if they are a reasonable accommodation due to a disability. Adults younger than 23 will be given 60 days of shelter. The agreement does not affect families with children. Mayor Eric Adams said the temporary agreement, which will last throughout the declared “migrant crisis” state of emergency, will lift a significant burden off the city. They reiterated his call for more help from the federal government.

DISCUSSION

  • John Mudd, MSCC, notes that Susan Stetzer reports that 64,400 migrants have been in our care since February 2024. Over 179,800 asylum seekers have come through NYC intake centers since spring 2022. We have opened 217 sites, but not the total number of asylum seekers, as many are staying with family and friends and on couches
  • John Mudd, MSCC, where do the migrants go after 30 days? 
  • Steven King, DHS,this is not tracked by DHS but does make the vacancy rate low
  • Susan Stetzer, CB3, reported that Zachary Iscol, the Commissioner for Emergency Management, attended the CB3 meeting and spoke to its members about the migrant emergency and its statistics (at 24.00 minutes of the meeting found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_q2THHV4OWs). NYC has taken  in over 180,000 people since the crisis started

CHATBOX 

  • Harvey Montague AIA Architecture Urban Design Private Practice: Any possible use of B & B or empty nester homes with extra space
  • Susan Stetzer, CB3, 30 for adults and 60 for families; this is not a DHS policy; this is city policy; they are sleeping in dining sheds
  • Alex Yong WSNAalex.yong.nyc@gmail.com, the next Coalition To End Apartment Warehousing meeting is March 21, 2024, at 1 pm. 
  • Damyanti Radheshwar, we have a NYC policy of 1% for arts. Let’s think about a similar funding mechanism for the homeless, either as housing or as amenities and facilities for the homeless
  • John Mudd, MSCC, spoke about a domestic violence victim and asked about avenues for people suffering from domestic violence
  • Steven King, DHS, asked John and members to email him regarding issues such as these and encampment sites where people need help. Building trust takes time, and train outreach workers to support trust-building
  • Susan Stetzer, CB3, asked about why MOCK is not being used. MOCK already had relationships with people suffering from homelessness. It should be about people and not just the businesses
  • Steven King, DHS, responded with the protocols that arise from 311 calls coming directly to the DHS command center
  • Steven King, DHS, we are opening shelters whenever we can. Finding space working with Community Boards, and Breaking Ground are essential steps to finding shelter for people. DHS has built-in care services within shelters for mental illness and addiction issues. DHS does not have faith-based beds in its portfolio. It has over 40 respite beds in its portfolio
  • Harvey Montague AIA Architecture Urban Design Private Practice, to open their homes to support people facing homelessness. There needs to be a way for people to make contact with DHS to have approvals for this
  • Steven King, DHS, the city has been looking at this, but it’s not yet a policy. HPD is more likely to make this a policy
  • John Leyva, a community member, noted a policy where seniors rent out their houses, similar to Air B & B. Is there a policy?

ACTIONS

  • John Mudd and Steven King, DHS, will connect to prepare for the next meeting in April
  • Steven King, DHS, asked John and members to email him regarding issues such as above and encampment sites where people need help
  • Steven King, DHS, will talk with assistant commissioners to see how DHS can work with MSCC on the above concerns and to stay on top of changes in the shelter system. 

HOUSING DEVELOPMENT ALTERNATIVE

Arielle Hersh, UHAB, Director of Policy and New Projects

  • works with co-ops, tenant organizing, and works with Housing Justice and Housing Coalition NYC to coordinate the UHAB campaign

Elise Goldin, New Economy Project, which is a city-wide organization fighting for a just economy that works for all New Yorkers based on racial and economic justice

  • Coordinates the coalition of 20-plus community land trusts across the city

Arielle Hersh, UHAB, Director of Policy and New Projects

  • Slide presentation for TOPA Tenant Opportunity to Purchase and COPA Community Opportunity to Purchase: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1h8InQnRJcesHp2SHPLb9qeSBY5tjQTlm9R7BjGxf5cA/edit#slide=id.p
  • The ability to step into ownership and take control of our homes limits the huge systemic impacts arising from people not owning homes and what can happen to them because of not being in control. Wall Street and big money are in control
  • COPA is a local policy working its way through the NYC Council. The right is awarded to community institutions, NFP landowners, and community land trusts
  • TOPA is where the right is directly related to tenants’ rights to purchase their buildings
  • TOPA and COPA build tenant power by 1. Increases the cost of flipping buildings; the cost is associated with the increase in time and allows the entry point of tenants into the process 2. Increases the number of housing units run for people rather than for profit

Elise Goldin, New Economy Project

  • COPA and TOPA policies have been successful around the country since the 1980s. We have seen in Washington DC, 16,000 units have been preserved over ten years
  • We have seen tenants take over their buildings and partner with community land trusts; blocks have been removed from speculation 
  • Landlords need to give tenants notice to sell; depending on the size of the building, tenants have time to respond. If tenants decide to move forward, they sign on to the statement of interest (50% must sign on). Tenants reach out to community groups to make this feasible. An offer is submitted, and it’s up to landlords to accept or not. If the owner rejects the offer and sends it to a third party, the offer must return to the community group. If the latter can match the third-party offer, the community has the right to purchase. Tenants can assign their rights to community trusts to make the offer
  • We want to expand tenants’ rights and see them involved in all buildings rather than see this as a pilot project
  • Pushing for vacant property
  • Pushing for a timeline that allows this to be more feasible
  • Applying for more funding in NYS, please sign on to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdCJ0LxIHESvV0mcXw7m1p96a4e39fMLiE9sLcu6o42vDxRWQ/viewform
  • There are programs such as Neighborhood Tellers, which support COPA and TOPA deals, but it is currently defunded
  • March 11 at 11 am, we are joining the Comptroller’s Office, the Progressive Cucuses, and many coalition partners for $2 billion to fund Neighborhood Tellers and Open Doors to allow new construction of housing that could be community-controlled and permanently affordable

DISCUSSION

  • John Leyva, community member, this is critical, and it’s a shame we didn’t know about this as we wouldn’t be in this situation
  • John Mudd, MSCC, referred to the bidding war possibility
  • Arielle Hersh, UHAB, Director of Policy and New Projects, different permutations across the country, and there would be bidding war possibilities. Sometimes, tenants assign their rights to a private developer in Washington DC, but this is not the case in NY
  • Alex Yong, Westside Neighborhood Alliance, what happens if tenants can’t be reached?
  • Arielle Hersh, UHAB’s Director of Policy and New Projects, said that not every tenant needs to be involved. A majority is required, however, and this varies across the country
  • John Leyva, the community member, noted the timeline must be feasible. It also seems there is an ideological problem where some people do not want tenants to own their housing
  • Arielle Hersh, UHAB director of Policy and New Projects, once people are in the finance stage there is room to extend the timeline
  • Alex Yong, Westside Neighborhood Alliance, the rally on Monday morning, March 11, 2024, at 11 am at City Hall, includes the Progressive Caucus, and Brad Lander to support the initiative called The Housing Now, Housing for Generations: POSTSCRIPT: NYC Council Progressive Caucus, Comptroller, Public Advocate & Housing Orgs Launch Affordable Housing Budget Campaign, Homes Now, Homes for Generations campaign aims to quadruple City’s investment in affordable home ownership. The New York City Council Progressive Caucus today (March 11, 2024)  joined Comptroller Brad Lander, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, the Association of Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD), Housing Justice for All, New York City Community Land Initiative (NYCCLI), the Professional Staff Congress of CUNY (PSC-CUNY), CIR-SEIU, UAW-9A, United Federation of Teachers (UFT), and dozens of grassroots housing organizations to launch Homes Now, Homes for Generations—a city-focused affordable housing campaign for the Fiscal Year 2025 budget cycle. City progressives joined forces in light of the worst affordability crisis New Yorkers have faced in decades—driven in large part by housing costs—to put forward common-sense investments in affordable home ownership and tenant protections.

The Homes Now, Homes for Generation campaign aims to quadruple the City’s investment in affordable homeownership (through investing in the NYC Department of Housing & Preservation Development’s (HPD) Open Door program) and make good on the City’s promise from 2018 to prevent the displacement of tenants by preserving 7,000 rent-stabilized units (through revitalizing HPD’s Neighborhood Pillars Program).

  • Alex Yong, Westside Neighborhood Alliance, asked about step 4 in slide 8

Slide 8: 5 steps in NYS TOPA:

  1. Notice of intent to sell
  2. Tennant response (20-45 days)
  3. Statement of interest to purchase (45-90 days)
  4. Acceptance or rejection of the offer. There is still a right to match the price and terms of a third-party offer
  5. Secure financing (30–120+days)
  • Elise Goldin, New Economy Project, yes, this is encouraging to negotiate
  • Arielle Hersh, UHAB director of Policy and New Projects, says these steps work well when tenants are organized. This is critical to progress the steps. There is a dip in prices in the market at the moment and worthwhile to take advantage of

ACTIONS

Endorse the Community Land Act, which includes COPA: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/16dCCVu6_AIaF7cN84IO8D1SrQNnWuhBK0ydmklD6aDk/viewform?edit_requested=true

Send an email to your council members to tell them to support COPA: https://neweconomynyc.ourpowerbase.net/civicrm/petition/sign?sid=45&reset=1

  • Arielle Hersh, UHAB director of Policy and New Projects, will email more specifics about Washington DC’s timelines and how NY’s timelines overlay the DC’s timeline 
  • John Mudd, MSCC, will send out information, which Arielle will email, from TOPA and the offer to join the group

CHATBOX

ANNOUNCEMENTS / EVENTS

NEXT Meeting Homeless and Housing Meeting: 9:30 AM Tuesday, April 2, 2024. Always the 1st Tuesday of every month. Contact hello@midtownsouthcc.org or john.mudd@usa.net for more information and Zoom invitations.