UPDATED: 35th District City Council Candidates Weigh In On Privatizing NYCHA Property

A rendering of the 16-story 16-story building holding 145 affordable apartments earmarked mainly for seniors from the LBGT community on Ingersoll Houses property. The development is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to sell off NYCHA property to raise money for the cash-strapped agency.

KCP asked the candidates running for the 35th District City Council seat covering Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights to provide their stance on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ongoing NextGen housing development program, which involves  leasing NYCHA-owned properties to private developers.

The district has a particularly large stake in the issue. Their district is home to over 6,000 units worth of NYCHA housing, according to the latest data from the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness (ICPH).

Furthermore, the construction of a new LGBT senior housing unit in Fort Greene’s Ingersoll Houses complex – a collaborative effort between NYCHA and the nonprofit Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders – is slated to begin next month.

KCP asked Democrat Incumbent City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo and challengers Ede Fox (D) and Christine Parker (R) and Jabari Brisport (Green Party). We will update this story when and if we get his view on the issue.

City Council Member Laurie Cumbo

Incumbent City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo (D): “As a member of the Committee on Public Housing, I have been a staunch advocate for the thousands of underserved NYCHA residents – including the thousands who call Farragut, Ingersoll, Walt Whitman, Atlantic Terminal, and Lafayette Gardens home. Despite the federal funding cuts, as a city, we have remained steadfast in our commitment to improving the quality of life in public housing.

“It is essential that NYCHA takes an innovative approach to creating new opportunities for current and future residents. It is paramount that we continue to work collaboratively to address existing needs such as structural and security upgrades to the preservation of affordable housing without displacing the families who have lived in NYCHA for generations. We must implement an inclusive plan that invests in the advancement of single parent, low and moderate-income households, our seniors and youth.”

Ede Fox

Challenger Ede Fox (D): “Our city’s public housing suffers from decades of deferred maintenance, chronic apartment shortages, and disinvestment from Washington and Albany. The NextGen development program is a real step forward with plans to address these issues and improve living conditions for working families.

“However, I oppose the infill plan that the program proposes. The City’s need for low-income housing is dire and all resources, including NYCHA property, should be used for that purpose, rather than market-rate housing. But, I think the plan has many proposals with the potential to positively impact New York’s largest landlord, and I look forward to help shape this as our next City Council Member.”

Christine Parker

Challenger Christine Parker (R): “I think that NYCHA’s Next Generation plans presents the opportunity (on paper) to assist with achieving financial stability for NYCHA’s short and long term goals of achieving financial stability for The New York City Housing Authority. However, this marketing ploy is a remix of NYCHA 2010 plan. In their effort to create solvency in 2010 NYCHA’s used the mix-use financial formula as a means to stay afloat. However, the results for tenants were disastrous, they were ignored and displaced throughout the NYCHA network quietly and systematically. During 2010 NYCHA established LLC developments . NYCHA, is the managing partner of LLC I and LLC II,  whereas they continue to manage 21 LLC developments. The 21 LLC developments contain public housing units as well as units assisted under the Section 8 program. 

“Current tenants do not understand the ramifications or sophisticated language of programs such as  the (PBV) Project Based Housing Voucher program, or their Section 8.  (RAD) Rental Assistant Demonstration. Nor do they fully understand the use of, waiting lists and occupancy of PBV Housing in which  NYCHA may utilize separate site-based waiting lists for admission to projects selected to receive project-based voucher (PBV) assistance.

“Just to be clear, once a tenant accepts a section 8 voucher, that tenant can never go back to the use of a NYCHA grant base program. The offer of a section 8 voucher programs are not at all what it may appear to be, there are very restrictive   with limited flexibility!  

“However there are viable aspects of the NextGen plan for NYCHA that should not be discounted. As long as there are opportunities for NYCHA residents to be empowered to secure housing at their income levels, first-class social services and viable employment opportunities that may be community based, there is an opportunity to a solid win-win for all. They should not be FORCED into a slick-talking or camouflaged Project Based Housing Vouchers Section 8 marketing ploy with dire ramifications.

“I am not opposed to private-public partnerships of NYCHA properties as long as the opportunity of financial solvency proves viable. In lieu of pending Federal budget cuts the plan to operate NYCHA more efficiency and objectively could prove prudent while providing best-in class services for NYCHA residents. I would not like to see NYCHA sell off it’s entire portfolio. Total privatization of NYCHA properties could have a chilling effect on nYCHA residents who may be unprepared for such a major transition. However, as long as NYCHA thrives fiscially and low income famalies are protected…..it could prove to be a win-win.”

Jabari Brisport

Jabari Brisport: “I think the Mayor, NYCHA, and all parties involved in the Next Gen program have made strong gains in improving employment, efficiency, and safety within NYCHA. But they are merely shifting around the crumbs left over after our public housing has been starved of funding at the state and federal level. I don’t think the question is ‘How do we address $17bn in capital needs?’ The question is ‘How did NYCHA reach $17bn in capital needs while the net worth of NY’s top 10 developers surged to over $40bn? And how much have those developers donated to Republican candidates?’ I think that once we answer those questions, we’ll see why building market rate housing on NYCHA land won’t solve the starvation of funding or the purchase of elections. But higher taxes on the wealthy, coupled with a more aggressive jobs program in NYCHA might.”


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