Members of the NYCHA preservation group, Fight For NYCHA, allege that the plan by Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) to put one-third of NYCHA's public housing apartments into a public-private partnership under a H.U.D. programme known as Rental Assistance Demonstration exposes tenants to the risk of civil rights violations. A news report reveals that such tenants will not be protected by a Court-ordered Federal Monitor. Fight For NYCHA

U.S. Attorney mum following revelation that NYCHA tenants lose Federal Monitor after RAD conversion under HUD settlement

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.

Source Document

Mayor’s NYCHA Working Group appears aimless amidst protests, discord

By Progress New York Staff

When Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) empaneled a committee of the local public housing authority in September 2019, he was under pressure to rollout the privatisation and demolition of public housing assets of the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, according to a report published by POLITICO New York.

Five months later, the Mayor’s NYCHA Working Group has become an “unmitigated mess,” according to one source. The new committee was initially scheduled to meet for only 10 weeks, wrap-up its work in December 2019, and issue some sort of determination. Midway through that schedule, David R. Jones, the CEO of the Community Service Society, published an editorial in the Amsterdam News, proclaiming, “The Chelsea Working Group may well need more time than it is allotted.” An extension of time took the new committee into January. Apparently, that’s still not enough time for the group to wrap-up its work.

At a meeting of the new committee on the evening of Feb. 6 at Hudson Guild, it was announced that the Mayor’s NYCHA Working Group had not yet made a decision about privatisation of Fulton Houses in Chelsea, an 11-building, public housing apartment complex that has become a flashpoint in the social movement to save public housing in New York City from privatisation and demolition. At that meeting, it was announced that the Mayor’s NYCHA Working Group would be scheduling another meeting for Feb. 24, according to a source.

It is not known if Mayor de Blasio is concerned that his NYCHA Working Group appears to have become aimless, nor is it known what will be discussed at the Feb. 24 meeting. Neither NYCHA, or the press office that services Mayor de Blasio immediately answered questions submitted for this report.

The Mayor’s NYCHA Working Group was meant to provide political cover ; now, it can’t conclude its work

The Mayor’s NYCHA Working Group was formed after a prior working group had been disbanded before even beginning its slow-moving work, because the prior working group was expected to “study” the mayor’s proposal, according to news reports. In the time since the formation of the Mayor’s NYCHA Working Group, members of the NYCHA preservation group, Fight For NYCHA, and some tenants of Fulton Houses, Chelsea Houses, Elliott Houses, and Harborview Terrace have protested Mayor de Blasio’s plan for privatisation, demolition, rezoning, infill development, and sale of air rights. Activists have accused the de Blasio administration of failing to study the discriminatory impact of the mayor’s plan to privatise public housing.

The local opposition in the Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen neighborhoods in Manhattan contrasts with how tenants in other parts of the City have essentially yielded to the dangers of privatisation. Last month, public housing residents at Warren Street Houses in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, for example, capitulated to administration pressure into accepting privatisation, even though new apartment leases are restrictive, the tenants face rent increases within six months, and there is new a higher threat of eviction. Allegations have been made that Warren Street Houses residents also cowered under bullying and threats of retaliation by the president of the local public housing tenants’ association.