Responding to Infill Development on and Privatization of NYC Housing Authority Campuses

TakeRoot works directly with residents at Wyckoff Gardens, LaGuardia Houses, Holmes Towers and Cooper Park Houses – the four sites where NYCHA and NYC Housing Preservation and Development have publicized an intention to allow private developers to construct market rate housing. 

At Cooper Park, residents resisted a plan to build a 250-unit apartment building, a decision made without consultation with residents or the necessary environmental-review procedures. TakeRoot worked with Cooper Park tenants to demand adequate resident engagement and opportunity to comment on the development plan and, in May 2019, NYCHA cancelled its plans for the development.

Holmes Towers’ tenants fought off an even larger plan to build a 339-unit tower on top of a playground that serves the families of that development. Residents took their case to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, forcing NYCHA to withdraw its application for the infill development, saying that it would try again after revising the plans and engaging further with the community. Building on the success of that campaign, in partnership with TakRoot’s Housing Rights team and with the organizing support of the Justice Center en El Bario, Equitable Neighborhoods took NYCHA to court on on behalf of tenants at Holmes and neighboring Isaacs Houses to demand decent conditions in the existing buildings.

NYCHA Real Talk

TakeRoot launches the NYCHA Real Talk workshop series and train-the-trainer program in Fall 2021. Read more here.

NYCommons

Click here to see the map we created and maintain showing where private development is pending on public housing campuses.

Press Coverage

NY Daily News: Public housing gets the shaft again: Put coronavirus failures on top a wide range of other ones, April 29, 2020

The City: NYCHA Tenants Stuck in Elevator Agony with Outage Spate, April 9, 2020

Patch: UES NYCHA Tenants Suing For Repairs Continue Fight In Court, Jan, 16, 2020

NY1: NYCHA Residents File Lawsuit to Address Substandard Living Conditions, Jan. 16, 2020 [VIDEO]

CBS2: NYCHA Residents Rally As Lawsuit Over Unlivable Conditions Reaches Courtroom, Jan. 15, 2020 [VIDEO]

NOTICIAS NY1: Inquilinos de varios edificios de vivienda pública demandan a NYCHA por mejoras en apartamentos, Jan. 15, 2020 [VIDEO]

The City: Tenants Sue for Repairs at Embattled East Side Public Housing Complexes, Dec. 13, 2019

Politico: City quietly pauses plans for private development at Brooklyn NYCHA site, May 6, 2019

Testimony

Testimony on NYCHA’s  Fiscal Year 2022 Draft Annual Plan and Draft Significant Amendment to the FY21 Annual Plan (07/27/2021), excerpt: “Our presence at today’s public hearing is illegal. NYCHA failed to provide the 45 days’ notice prior to today’s public hearing. While NYCHA’s website states the Annual Plan was published June 11, 2021, our organization—which is a known stakeholder, having testified at prior NYCHA hearings, and which is signed up on various NYCHA stakeholder listservs— only received notice of the Authority’s 2022 Draft Annual Plan and hearing on July 11, a mere 16 days before this hearing. We’ve heard the same from numerous community partners— including TA presidents, NYCHA residents and tenant organizers.”

Testimony before the New York City City Council Committee on Public Housing on the Oversight of NYCHA’s plans for Infill and Section 8 Conversion (01/13/2021), excerpt: “It is unconscionable to push for massive changes to NYCHA and irreversible transformations on specific campuses through RAD/PACT and infill while the COVID-19 pandemic prevents full resident participation in the process. The consent of NYCHA residents is absolutely necessary for these sweeping changes to public housing in NYC to be approved within the spirit of federal public housing law. Ignoring resident participation and concerns, especially during a global emergency, is unacceptable.”

Testimony to the New York State Assembly on A11149: The New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA’s) Blueprint for Change/Preservation Trust proposal (12/8/2020), excerpt: “We have serious concerns about the road this bill has traveled to come before you today. These sentiments are shared by our clients and partners, who are and work closely with NYCHA residents. The context, i.e. COVID-19, in which this transformation of public housing is being proposed directly inhibits inclusive public participation. Simply put, the specific rights and powers proposed for the new “Trust,” are not acceptable to the coalition of residents and allies rallying against this bill’s passage, and no changes of this nature are acceptable during a pandemic.”

Testimony on NYCHA’s Fiscal Year 2021 Draft Public Housing Authority Plan (12/8/2020), addressing the Blueprint for Change/Preservation Trust, privatization efforts that run counter to the spirit of federal oversight, and NYCHA’s inaccessible approach to public engagement in the midst of a pandemic.

Testimony of the Draft PHA Plan for Fiscal Year 2020 (7/19/2019), addressing inadequate resident control over decision-making regarding infill development and privatization, as well as inadequate benefits and protections for residents at targeted campuses.

Testimony Before the New York City City Council Committee on Public Housing Regarding NYCHA Development and Privatization(10/30/2018): TakeRoot testified about irregularities in the approval processes for NYCHA’s infill development, obfuscation that limits resident participation, and the lack of environmental review that is on course to allow construction with impacts on current NYCHA residents to move ahead. You can watch the hearing here. Karen Leader from Cooper Park Resident Council (our client) is at 18:13; Paula Segal’s testimony on behalf of TakeRoot (at the time the Community Development Project) is at 4:49:55.

Testimony on the Draft PHA Plan for Fiscal Year 2019 (May 22, 2018): Our testimony highlighted the many problems with NYCHA administration of the program, including its exclusion of residents’ input into decision making about the proportions of affordable vs. market rate development on NYCHA properties. TakeRoot also pointed out NYCHA’s failure to set a floor price on 99 year leases to developers that would ensure a return sufficient to meet the capital needs at the proposed development sites, as well as its silence on whether developers will be required to make future contributions towards meeting NYCHA’s capital needs. TakeRoot made multiple recommendations to the agency on how to make sure residents have a voice and power in the NextGen process, and to ensure that the funding it is claimed these developments will bring actually go towards NYCHA campuses where private housing is built. You can watch the hearing here.