The Settlement Agreement announced in Jan. 2019 by U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman denies Federal monitorship to NYCHA residents converted under RAD.
By Progress New York Staff
A Settlement Agreement, much-lauded by Federal authorities, has been revealed to have glaring loopholes, which permit the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, to escape U.S. District Court-imposed oversight as public housing developments are transferred into a controversial partial privatisation programme known as RAD.
RAD stands for Rental Assistance Demonstration, a programme developed by the Obama administration, which transfers strategic public housing assets into a public-private partnership, permitting private sector landlords to treat public housing apartments as profit-centres.
The revelation of the loopholes was made in a report published by The City, a news Web site.
“A giant loophole in both the monitor agreement and the mold court settlement explicitly says that when a development goes RAD, oversight by the monitor and the court is terminated,” wrote the journalist Greg B. Smith, who filed the news report. The escape clause adds incentive for NYCHA to convert public housing under RAD, according to critics of NYCHA and of the Settlement Agreement. The escape clause also puts into jeopardy a class-action lawsuit over NYCHA’s failure to remediate mold from public housing apartments.
The Settlement Agreement was announce in Jan. 2019 by U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who became the third, successive top Federal prosecutor in Manhattan to supervise the wide-ranging physical conditions standard investigation into NYCHA, after the investigation was originated in 2016 by then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was later removed from office by President Donald Trump (R) and replaced, for a time, by Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim.
In the time since the Settlement Agreement was accepted without scrutiny by U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley III, the beginnings of a social movement have emerged in New York City to save, fully-fund, and expand public housing without having to resort to any degree of privatisation. Advocates to save public housing have questioned U.S. Attorney Berman’s wisdom in permitting to escape Federal monitorship after RAD conversion, particularly since residents of RAD-converted public housing have experienced violations of the Fair Housing Act, according to numerous news reports. One advocacy group in particular, Fight For NYCHA, receives support from Progress New York.
“It was a mistake for Federal prosecutors to allow NYCHA to escape the scrutiny of a Federal monitor, especially since public housing residents are arm-twisted into accepting RAD leases that waive the warranty of habitability and face higher rates of eviction, all potentially violations of Federal civil rights,” said a member of Fight For NYCHA.
In addition to escape clause that permits NYCHA to avoid Federal monitorship for public housing developments, which undergo RAD conversion, the Settlement Agreement was also the target of ridicule over the paltry amount that the City of New York was required to pay to NYCHA to make long, overdue repairs. According to analysis, the Settlement Agreement only provided 9 cents to the dollar, spread out over 10 years, needed to cover the estimated $32 billion capital improvement budget shortfall.
U.S. Attorney Berman refuses to address criticism of NYCYHA’s Settlement Agreement with the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development
Prior to the ratification of the Settlement Agreement by U.S. District Court, a prior Consent Decree that proposed to settle the wide-ranging investigation of NYCHA had been rejected by U.S. District Judge Pauley as insufficient. It was never explained why U.S. District Court Judge Pauley accepted the eventual Settlement Agreement, particularly since it required the City of New York to pay even less to fund NYCHA’s backlog of capital repairs.
In response to criticism that the Settlement Agreement leaves public housing residents exposed to potential misconduct and civil rights violations by NYCHA or by RAD landlords, U.S. Attorney Berman is keeping mum. The media office supporting U.S. Attorney Berman failed on Friday to respond to a request to address the criticism.
- NYCHA-HUD Settlement Agreement [U.S. Attorney’s Office-SDNY]
- NYCHA Tenants Lose Monitor, Mold Protection in Private Shift [The City]
- What Is RAD ? A Look at NYCHA’s Private Management Move [The City]
- Chelsea Residents Resist Public Housing Privatization at Town Hall [Washington Square News/NYU News]
- NYC public housing residents fear privatization of buildings [The New York Daily News]