Longtime Fulton Houses Tenant Association President Miguel Acevedo has ruffled the feathers of housing advocates and some of his tenants just in time for Thanksgiving.
A recent video posted to Twitter shows Acevedo handing out turkeys to police officers. One resident of the NYCHA complex who asked to remain anonymous blasted the move, assuming it to be some sort of bribe.
“Why are you giving turkeys to people that make money compared to the residents who live in NYCHA that don’t have money?,” they asked. “And not only that, but you could have given tenants two turkeys because we’re going through a pandemic, and there’s really no food. Some people can’t afford a turkey for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
Acevedo defended the handout, claiming it was part of a decades-long program where cops delivered the turkeys to the grandmothers of NYCHA residents.
Still, Marni Halasa (D), a political rival of and prospective successor to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen), highlighted it to voice opposition to Acevedo’s agreement with Johnson and Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) over converting Fulton Houses to Rental Assistance Demonstrations (RAD), functionally privatizing the complex.
Citing the case of Queens’ Ocean Bay complex, whose RAD status led to “an astronomical amount of evictions,” Halasa expressed fear that residents of Fulton Houses would suffer the same fate.
“None of the elected officials on the West Side have come out against RAD,” she said. “The mayor is doing these working groups, but they’re kind of done in secret, not in public, and not transparent.”
Johnson praised these working groups, highlighting that they had received the support of Legal Aid, the Community Service Society, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn), Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D), and State Senator Robert Jackson (D-Washington Heights, Inwood).
“Any plan to address the capital needs of NYCHA Fulton and Elliot-Chelsea Houses should be the product of a community-led conversation,” said Johnson. “This group – comprised of a wide range of stakeholders and centered around tenants of Fulton and Elliot-Chelsea Houses – is continuing to make progress in evaluating all options on the table and he looks forward to seeing their recommendations. Everyone deserves a safe and habitable home, and we will continue working to make this a reality.”
Louis Flores, an organizer with Fight for NYCHA, shared Halasa’s concerns about the privatization of Fulton Houses, suggesting that Acevedo had long dismissed the concerns of residents who RAD would adversely impact.
“When we began organizing here last April or May in 2019, he wouldn’t come out against RAD and we were very perplexed,” he said. “We didn’t understand why he wouldn’t denounce it.”
Acevedo deflected the accusations, saying that no more than “six to ten” of his 2,000 residents were vocally against him, and insisted that RAD was the necessary decision after years of underfunding and mismanagement.
“The city housing authority is in a deficit of $40 billion and don’t have the funding for the repair of the elevators, for the mold issues, for the roof, for the piping, from the heat in the hot water,” he said. “If I’m in a marriage where my spouse is beating me up daily and all that leads to is death, in the end, I’m not staying in that relationship, you get out of it.”
He continued, alleging that Halasa railed against the RAD plans for Fulton Houses as part of her campaign for the seat on the City Council.
“`I’m gonna go put my face on the tv. If I get some people riled up, and I tell them this is the worst thing to do, let’s keep public housing public and then make it look like I’m the savior,’” said Acevedo in mockery of Halasa. “You’re using lies just like Donald Trump has been doing to us for the past four years. And look where we are.”