Holmes Towers NYCHA Private Development In-Fill Application Withdrawn with Commitment to Meaningful Community Engagement

New York, NY – Private development planned on the Holmes Towers public housing site on the Upper East Side will restart its community engagement process as the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has withdrawn its Section 18 application from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Since August 11, 2015, when Mayor de Blasio’s NextGen NYCHA infill program was announced as part of the 2015 NYCHA Annual Plan, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Member Ben Kallos, have joined tenants in expressing concerns that the program as proposed did not take sufficient input from tenants and community members and would not bring enough resources to NYCHA. NYCHA will now start a new community engagement process complete with new Section 18 application centered around residents, neighbors,  Community Board 8, and local elected officials.

“I am delighted that the city is withdrawing its proposal to build a tall luxury building on Holmes Towers property, which would have taken light, air and a playground away from public housing tenants. The City proposed exchanging NYCHA land for funds to make repairs, but the amount of money they would receive was never enough to make the transaction worthwhile. Holmes residents were adamantly opposed to this proposal and I’m glad that the City listened to our concerns. Instead of selling off NYCHA property in certain neighborhoods for one-time cash infusions, NYCHA needs to get its fiscal house in order and come up with a realistic plan to make repairs across all its properties, “said Congress Member Carolyn Maloney.

“We’ve raised concerns about this in-fill project from the start, supporting residents at every step of the way. We are grateful that NYCHA has heard our voices and agreed to begin a new more meaningful community engagement,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “We must find funding for billions in repairs and are committed to finding a way forward that supports public housing and builds more affordable housing.”

“Community Board 8 is gratified that community voices have been heard. Community engagement is essential. We look forward to working with NYCHA, our elected officials, and our neighbors, and being part of the decision-making process, ” said Alida Camp Community Board 8 Chair.

“NYCHA was right to withdraw its application as it reflected both a flawed and secretive process and a misuse of land resources entrusted to its stewardship,” said Paula Segal, Senior Staff Attorney in the Equitable Neighborhoods practice at the Community Development Project. “We are really happy to support residents organizing for power over the future of our City and our precious public housing.”

“Housing is a human right, and NYCHA residents deserve repairs without jeopardizing their health, quality of life, or the future of their homes,” said Monica Cruz, an organizer with the Justice Center en el Barrio.  “Let’s keep this going!  We need a real alternative, not fake fixes in privatization.  This is a huge victory for public housing residents. When we fight, we win!”

I have been on the front lines, opposing the proposed infill project since 2015.  We the Tenants never gave up and we felt strong about fighting to retain our Land and playground that the community utilizes.  The plan would have deprived and devastated this community.  We urge the city and state to allocate the much-needed funds to restore NYCHA dwellings citywide and stop taking away our playgrounds and parking lots. We will remain united to stop the privatization of New York City Public Housing Land,” said Saundrea Coleman a current Resident of Issac’s house for 4 years and a former resident of Holmes Towers for 23 years.”

As a resident born and raised in Holmes I am not only disheartened but disgusted by the lack of transparency, funding and defunding of NYCHA as a whole.  The constant disregard for the well being, needs and concerns of the residents is not new. NYCHA residents have felt abandoned for years.  The proposal of a 50 story building to loom over us at Holmes was met with a resounding NO!  We have asked and will continue to advocate that NYCHA find a better solution than privatization!  We are not going to settle for less because we live in an NYCHA apartment,” said LaKeesha Taylor Holmes a Tower resident.