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MSCC HOMELESS/HOUSING MEETING RECAP JANUARY 2, 2024

MSCC, Sharon Jasprizza, 2.12.24

SUMMARY

Alex Yong, Westside Neighborhood Alliance: Housing updates for S2980S2943S1 684S995 and S129 Substantial Rehabilitation. Renee Keitt, NYCHA resident: Understanding the process of displacement at NYCHA because of RAD and PACT and the need to use appropriate language

CHAIR: John Mudd

WELCOME / INTRODUCTIONS

John Mudd, MSCC, welcomed new members and the New Year

POLICY MEETING UPDATES

There were no 8.30 AM Policy Meeting updates.

DECEMBER 2023 HIGHLIGHTS

  • On Wednesday, December 27, 2023, MSCC, coalition members, and legal experts held a zoon meeting on Legal Strategies for the Elliot Chelsea and Fulton house tenants. Further reporting on NYCHA is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmlyoneK8SY. Richard Rothstein focused on voucher 8 and development at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Pb6y9rNKmo
  • MSCC supported the Right to Counsel Coalition and Flatbush Tenant Coalition’s campaigns and movement for Right to Counsel across New York State at the December 6, 2023 Rally, December 8, 2023 Briefing, and on January 17, 2024, the State of Evictions Forum. The two bills the coalition is fighting for are Statewide Right to Counsel S2721 / A1493 (Joyner/May), which would establish the right to a free attorney for all New Yorkers facing displacement, and Defend Right to Counsel S3254 / A4993 (Hoylman-Sigal/Rosenthal), which would give New Yorkers the time they need to retain a lawyer when eligible. With nearly 175,000 New Yorkers facing active eviction, there’s never been a more urgent time to pass this legislation. Where versions of this bill have already been implemented in New York City and across the country, Right to Counsel has successfully stopped displacement and kept people in their homes. Right to Counsel’s success nationwide has fueled a growing movement in New York State: over 110 organizations across New York support Statewide Right to Counsel, which now has 62 sponsors in the Assembly and 28 in the Senate. The New York City Council is set to pass a resolution of support for the legislation on December 6th, and the Albany Common Council passed a resolution earlier this year. 

PROGRESS REPORT

  • MSCC has planned four forums is planning for February focusing on housing, health, and development. Your sponsorship, support, and participation are welcome. Please email John.mudd@usa.net
  • MSCC has invited  Hydronic Shell Technologies to speak about The Hydronic Shell Modular Panel at a future meeting about reinventing Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) for the future of construction to deliver better buildings at lower cost. Decarbonizing and modernizing our aging building stock is an unprecedented challenge for our industry and is especially urgent in underserved communities that have been neglected for decades. The Hydronic Shell prefabricated facade panel includes all elements necessary to deliver complete heating, cooling, and ventilation to each unit in a multi-unit residential building or to handle the perimeter loads in other building types such as offices, schools, and warehouses. 

SPECIAL INTRODUCTION(S) AND OR UPDATES

  • Charisma White, MSCC, secured housing with an HPD Section 8 voucher and is collaborating with Nicole McVinua, Urban Pathways, and Joel from VOCAL-NY to develop a package demonstrating the process for housing with vouchers
  • Rob Robinson, MSCC, spoke about Unhomeless NYC at Kingsborough Community College in April 2020. The article below appeared in the Frieze in April 2022. The exhibition is being held again at Hudson Guild on 26th Street, West of 9th Ave, between February 4 and April 8, 2024.

Homeless. Houseless. Unhoused. These are all terms used by housing activists, autonomous organizations, journalists, reformers, and those without stable housing alike. Some prefer ‘unhoused’ to emphasize the fact that shelter is actively denied to many by a racialized and gendered state apparatus, so that a few may reap financial rewards. Others use ‘houseless’ to reinforce that even those without access to a brick-and-mortar edifice may well have a ‘home’. For a new exhibition at the Kingsborough Art Museum at Kingsborough Community College (KCC), the title takes a different approach: ‘UnHomeless NYC’ proposes a collective term that applies to an entire city rather than an individual, calling for housing for all.

Curated by Maureen Connor, Jason Leggett, Tommy Mintz, Rob Robinson, and Midori Yamamura, the exhibition grew out of meetings held throughout the pandemic to discuss housing justice. Yamamura, an art history professor at KCC, told me that she had reached out to Robinson – a formerly homeless organizer and activist – to speak to her students in an effort to destigmatize discussions about homelessness in a public school system where 33,000 students were without housing at some point during the 2015–16 academic year. 

  • Rob Robinson, MSCC, is working with MSCC and students from CUNY to build several workshops, films, and discussions for housing, health, and more. The 4 MSCC forums are currently being planned, and more information will be available soon
  • Marni Halasa, MSCC, spoke about the film Razing Liberty Square, which is currently showing at several locations. CB4 is planning a showing soon. The film is about residents of the Liberty Square public housing community in Miami learning about a $300 million revitalization project; they know that the sudden interest comes from the fact that their neighborhood is located on the highest and driest ground in the city. Now they must prepare to fight a growing form of racial injustice—climate gentrification.
  • Renee Keitt, Razing Liberty Squareis on PBS on January 29, 2024

TENANT BILLS: S2980S2943S1 684, and S995

Alex Yong, Westside Neighborhood Alliance,updated the committee about the four bills. 

  • Senate Bill S2943B was vetoed by Governor Hochul
  • S995A Bill was passed and is now law. It ends the practice of anonymous ownership of limited liability companies in New York by defining beneficial ownership. It requires the disclosure of the identities of beneficial owners upon company formation or registration, and publishing beneficial owners of limited liability companies in New York’s publicly searchable corporation and business entity database
  • S1684 Bill was passed and requires owners of property to complete in a timely manner a survey distributed by a municipality to determine the vacancy rate. This is more for upstate NY
  • S6216 Bill was also passed and will limit Frankensteining because it will not be financially viable to do so
  • Legislation S2980-C/A6216-B strengthens tenant protections by clarifying the standards for determining whether a landlord has engaged in a fraudulent scheme to deregulate a unit, requiring landlords going forward to get approval from Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) prior to deregulating a unit due to a substantial rehabilitation, stiffening penalties for failing to register a unit, codifying methods for calculating rents after units are combined or modified, and reinforcing HCR’s authority to enforce the rent stabilization laws, among other measures.
  • Intro 195 was passed by The City Council on December 6, 2023. It enables tenants to report vacant apartments in their buildings to the city housing agency — with sponsors hoping to spur action on tens of thousands of empty units and to report maintenance code issues to the Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) department via 311, and have city officials inspect vacant units when they may pose a hazard to those in units nearby. Tenants living in empty apartments have described trash, mold, open windows, leaky gas pipes, and rodents as scourges in their buildings. 
  • S129 Substantial Rehabilitation, The purpose of this bill is to clarify the original intent of the demolition provision of the Rent Stabilization Law and to prohibit building owners from using demolition applications to evict rent-stabilized tenants without demolishing their buildings. Landlords and their lawyers are not scared of regulations, and thus, it’s important to have regulations backed up by law. DHCR has worked to ensure this is legislation. S2980is important, too, but was vetoed by Governor Hochul. This would have established the legally regulated rent for the combination of two or more vacant apartments, defines permanently vacated; relates to exemptions from rent stabilization based on substantial rehabilitation; relates to public hearings by the city rent agency (Part A)

NYCHA 

Renee Keitt, NYCHA resident

  • Understanding the process of displacement at NYCHA because of RAD and PACT. There is a need to understand that language such as redevelopment, but rather is demolishing people’s homes. The process was called a vote when it was a survey. Use words like destruction and demolish rather than justifying the process of rehabilitation. Stop using affordable housing as affordable housing, in many instances, starts at $75,000. Stop infilling on NYCHA properties when there are over 800 vacant properties throughout the city.  Section 8 vouchers are not easy and know that people do not want people with Section 8 vouchers
  • We need to make sure elected officials do their job. Stop dismantling housing and communities

DISCUSSION/ACTIONS

  • Marni Halasa, MSCC, said communities at Wise Towers sought the help of Gale Brewer, who was instrumental in stopping the in-fill project. Hence, our elected officials should do the same for NYCHA now. We need to pressure our electeds, and when we do, things do change.

The City reported in June 2019, The politician suing over a long-stalled private development at a Manhattan public housing complex isn’t buying the city’s call for a do-over — and is pressing ahead with her legal battle. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer says the New York City Housing Authority has not made substantial enough alterations to a plan to allow a private apartment tower to be built on an Upper East Side playground within the Holmes Towers complex.

  • Rob Robinson, MSCC, stated its important to keep front and center that to control housing we need to control the land
  • John Mudd, MSCC, spoke about a developer at a recent NYCHA Public Housing meeting who stated that there is not much land to develop. It seems that people are vying for NYCHA properties
  • Renee Keitt, NYCHA resident, spoke about pushing people up and outwards to gentrify and make profits from land development. In Fill is defined in the NYCHA context as building mixed-income buildings on NYCHA land. It is said the new buildings are to fund Elliot Chelsea and Fulton, but this is different. NYCHA buildings are located in opportunity zones, and hence, the land is highly valued
  • John Mudd, MSCC, we need everyone to fight the system to stop housing from being taken from us. New technologies, such as hydronic shell technologies, are available to update old buildings. The February meeting will focus on this technology. There is no need to demolish.
  • Marni Halasa, MSCC, Miguel Acevedo, Fulton House Tenant Association is hiring lawyers to support tenants who are negotiating leases when converting from Section 9 to Section 8
  • Alixa Cruz, a resident of NYCHA, mentioned a developer constructing a building at 401 West 25th Street in the NYCHA car park. The community was told that the purpose of the infill was to generate funds for NYCHA. However, the residents were informed that the new building would be affordable, but this was different. Consequently, they were compelled to relocate
  • Marni Halasa, MSCC, has observed that when a building transitions from Section 9 to Section 8, a subsidy is made accessible. However, the developer holds no obligation to continue the subsidy. Unfortunately, this scenario rarely materializes as it needs more profitability, resulting in unaffordable housing within the building. The Obama Administration’s 2012 budget proposes a “Transforming Rental Assistance (TRA)” demonstration that HUD estimates would convert 255,000 public housing units to Section 8 subsidies at a cost of $170 million. The converted units would have “project-based” subsidies attached to them; these are subsidies tied to a specific development rather than being used in a modest unit of a family’s choice, like “tenant-based” vouchers. The subsidies would be similar to those provided under two existing programs — Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) and the Section 8 voucher program’s project—based component—with some program rule changes.
  • Marni Halasa, MSCC, spoke about organizing a forum about NYCHA 
  • John Mudd, MSCC,talked to the four forums that MSCC is organizing in February. There will be a place for the NYCHA discussion. John invited all to be a part of the forums and will make contact with each person individually in the next few days

CHATBOX

NEXT Meeting Homeless and Housing Meeting: 9:30 AM Tuesday, February 6, 2023

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