Water, hot water, and heat outages continue unabated at NYCHA public housing developments, as do the RAD/PACT conversions that are privatising public housing by Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC). Throughout, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez remains silent as she promotes a Green New Deal that has failed to improve the living conditions of public housing residents. Fight For NYCHA/File Photograph

AOC admits trades unions helped her author Green New Deal bill, explaining silence on RAD/PACT conversions at NYCHA

AOC’s Green New Deal resolution has not stopped Mayor Bill de Blasio’s escalating efforts to privatise NYCHA public housing.

By Progress New York Staff

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY 14) took to Twitter last week to defend her signature legislative agenda, a bill that would provide public housing residents with less energy than they already receive now. Residents of the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, routinely experience heat and hot water outages each winter season. During the 2018-2019 winter season, approx. 90 per cent. of NYCHA developments experienced heat and hot water outages, according to a report published by the New York Post. Despite those outages, a competition erupted online over which Democrat would provide public housing residents with less energy.

After mayoral candidate Andrew Yang had announced last week his own plan to cut energy consumption by public housing residents, U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez retorted in a tweet, “I wrote the original Green New Deal for Public Housing,” adding that trades unions helped with the writing of the draft legislation. The bill was introduced in Congress in 2019.

The role of trades unions in shaping construction policy may explain U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s refusal to criticise the privatisation of public housing in New York City. Anytime large real estate development projects are proposed by the powerful real estate industry that are simultaneously opposed by community residents, the support of trades unions is relied up by Elected Officials as political cover to override the will of community residents. For this report, the office of U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez did not answer an interview request.

RAD/PACT privatisations of NYCHA public housing continues, leading to allegations of civil rights violations of public housing residents.

In the time since U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez introduced her Green New Deal bill, NYCHA residents have continued to experience utility outages. During one shocking water outage at the Taft Houses in Harlem caused by a water main break in Feb. 2020, public housing residents were forced to line up and collect potable water to flush their toilets from a fire hydrant on Madison Avenue, according to a news report broadcast by PIX11 News.

Even though U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has been promoting her Green New Deal bill almost nonstop since its introduction, her offered solution to the serious, complex challenges facing NYCHA have not stopped Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) from converting public housing developments under the controversial privatisation programme known as Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD. To confuse public housing residents about RAD conversions, Mayor de Blasio has renamed the programme Permanent Affordability Commitment Together, or PACT. In a Court filing made last week, a group of activists charged that RAD/PACT lead to dangers and risks to public housing residents. That Court filing also alleged that NYCHA was using RAD/PACT conversions to abandon their obligations to provide residents with habitable living conditions. Mayor de Blasio has announced plans to put one-third of all public housing apartments into RAD/PACT, with the remainder to be received into an unaccountable State trust, thus potentially bringing to a complete end the New Deal concept of public housing, as it was created in 1934.

Given all of the concern U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has expressed about public housing, she has yet to address the dangers and risks to public housing residents from RAD/PACT conversions. In recent weeks, U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has reacted with hostility to any form of criticism, including asking her political supporters to flag criticism on social media for deletion by moderators, according to a report published by Progress New York. Despite the publication of a series of reports about U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s policies, her office has yet to grant Progress New York an interview request.

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