Please do not approve NYCHA’s application to convert Harlem River Houses through the RAD program, because 1) resident engagement was insufficient, 2) this project threatens tenant’s well being, and 3) the RAD review process coincided with a pandemic which was doubly fatal for NYCHA residents as the city overall.
Harlem River Houses, built in 1937, is a designated historical landmark and one of the first federally-funded public housing developments in New York City. Despite NYCHA’s claims of resident engagement, residents have been locked out of this process in a number of ways. At early meetings in which tenants were presented with the plan to convert the development, those that raised concerns about the proposal were forcibly removed from meetings. Subsequently, the tenant association president threatened that tenant organizers were trespassers and would be arrested, a clear violation of HUD rule 24 CFR 245.100. Such threats have created a culture of fear around the tenant participation process. The TA president was voted in by little more than 10 people in an election that was not widely publicized. Tenants have tried for months to retrieve the bylaws for the Tenant Association, including through repeated requests of the TA president, and of NYCHA. Despite a FOIL request to NYCHA for these over five months ago, NYCHA has not shared the bylaws.
Because of the pandemic, crucial meetings about RAD were held on Zoom, but many people don’t have internet access, a reliable connection, or the hardware or skills needed to participate. Another barrier is language; critical meetings were held primarily in English, but many residents speak other languages such as Spanish and Chinese. As mentioned, many residents were excluded from essential meetings because of the concerns we raised about RAD.
Our concerns reflect our knowledge of RAD conversions at other NYCHA developments. After the RAD conversion at Ocean Bay Houses, new managers brought more than 300 eviction cases to court, and displaced 80 households. This eviction rate was twice as high as the second highest eviction rate among NYCHA developments during the same time frame. When a resident asked about this during a zoom town Hall with NYCHA and C&C Management, a NYCHA spokesperson responded that some of these tenants were evicted from Ocean Bay because of their refusal to sign the new leases. In this and other ways, Harlem River tenants are being intimidated into signing off on a deal that they don’t support. During a deadly pandemic, dangling the threat of evictions to push a deal through is completely unethical.
The management companies chosen for RAD partnership have histories of tenant harassment and neglect, high rates of evictions, the abuse of public money and more. There is no way to construe that these partnerships are in the best interests of tenants. The private manager assigned to Harlem River Houses, C&C Management, has an awful reputation, Tenants in other C&C buildings have complained of rat infestations and floods, and have said that the management company has been un-responsive to requests for repairs. C&C and its parent company L&M have the second highest eviction rate in NYC.
The Legal Aid Society is working with NYCHA to privatize public housing and is in no way independent when it comes to RAD. Legal Aid co-authored the “Resident Handbook” used widely to promote privatization as the only option for public housing.
“Rochel Leah Goldblatt, NYCHA’s deputy press secretary, insists that none of Ocean Bay’s eviction cases were due to tenants losing their rights. They claim that the Legal Aid Society reviewed all the cases and found that none of the evictions that took place at Ocean Bay were avoidable.”
But in a virtual town hall with Harlem River Preservation, the consortium privatizing Harlem River Houses, NYCHA’s Vice President of Transactions, Marissa Schaffer, said some evictions at Ocean Bay were for families that “refused to sign leases”. Will Legal Aid instruct tenants at Harlem River Houses that eviction will be “unavoidable” if they refuse to sign leases with C&C management, a real estate company with the second highest eviction rate in New York City? For NYCHA to dangle the threat of eviction to pressure public housing residents into signing private leases with this eviction-happy predatory management company is beyond unethical. We believe it’s illegal.
Legal Aid’s role as buffer for predatory developers compromises their status as a non-profit legal services provider. In fact, Legal Aid Society is run by some of the very interests who pursue the displacement of poor, working class, and homeless people. For example, when Legal Aid represented homeless residents of Upper West Side hotel shelters, the vice-chair of their board, Randy Mastro sued to evict those homeless residents- in the middle of the pandemic. Much like Settlement Housing Fund at Harlem River and many non-profits in the affordable housing business, Legal Aid Society claims to provide services for those in need, but often provides cover for real estate interests seeking to raise rents and property values in order to make millions of dollars through gentrification.
We demand that NYCHA and C&C immediately stop trying to mislead tenants into forgoing their legal right to independent counsel offered by Advocates for Justice Attorney Arthur Schwartz; ripping down our fliers/ grabbing them from tenants’ doors, and replacing them with fliers for the Legal Aid Society. We remind the Legal Aid Society that tenants of Harlem River Houses have filed a class action suit against NYCHA to stop RAD; as co-architect and active proponent of RAD/PACT, we believe it is a conflict of interest for Legal Aid Society to advise tenants of Harlem River Houses regarding RAD leases.
ATTN: C&C Management CEO Richard Doetsch, L&M Development CEO Ron Moelis, Settlement Housing Fund Director Alexa Sewell, West Harlem Group Director Donald Notice, NYCHA Chairman Greg Russ Legal Aid Society Attorney Lucy Newman
On Sunday, June 13, Chuck Schumer responded to a question from The UFAD on the oneNYCHA Podcast.
The Tenants of Harlem River Houses have filed a lawsuit against the head of NYCHA, Greg Russ, demanding that privatization be stopped and that they not be forced to sign leases with private management company C&C. NYCHA and C&C are ignoring it and have begun rushing lease signings this week. Will Senator Schumer stand with the residents of Harlem River and make a statement that privatization should be halted?
Senator Schumer said “Yes… They’re saying they need privatization because they need money… If we get this $80 billion, there’s no excuse for privatization”.
To see the full podcast, visit Facebook.com/onenycha
PUBLIC HOUSING TENANTS RALLY AGAINST NATIONWIDE PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC HOUSING AND HOPE SF SCHEME IN SAN FRANCISCO
On June 12th, Sunnydale and Potrero Hill residents came together in front of San Francisco City Hall to protest the HOPE SF privatization of their homes, which is the last public housing in the city, as well as the intentional neglect and discrimination by the San Francisco and Oakland Housing Authorities.
Residents spoke out about how HOPE SF, the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA), developers Mercy Housing and Related California at Sunnydale, and BRIDGE Housing and nonprofit Shanti Project at Potrero Hill are displacing people from their homes to demolish them and pave the way for the developers to build on the land. Many also spoke about the manipulation and lies they have faced from SFHA, HOPE SF, and the developers.
Residents described the dangerous conditions that SFHA has made them live in to justify privatization, and that private management companies don’t improve these conditions but instead continue to neglect developments and make residents more vulnerable to displacement and rent hikes. People emphasized the need not just to preserve public housing but to improve it, and spoke out against Housing Authorities discriminating against immigrants, charging families more for rent if they are ‘mixed status.’
This action was part of a national week of protests with residents rallying in New York City and Boston against the privatization of public housing and against big banks like Bank of America profiting from privatization and gentrifying neighborhoods. Residents from Harlem River Houses in New York City called into San Francisco to show their support and emphasized that this is a national movement against privatization, with one speaker ending her speech with: “I’m with you right here in New York, we got y’all, we got y’all’s back!”
The protest also marked the first day of collecting signatures on a citywide petition of Sunnydale and Potrero Hill residents opposing the HOPE SF privatization of public housing as well as discrimination and harassment from SFHA and private management.
For more information, please contact the United Front Against Displacement (Bay Area) at 510-815-9978 or email@example.com.
INQUILINOS DE VIVIENDAS PÚBLICAS PROTESTAN LA PRIVATIZACIÓN A NIVEL NACIONAL DEL ESQUEMA DE VIVIENDAS PÚBLICAS Y HOPE SF EN SAN FRANCISCO
El 12 de junio, los residentes de Sunnydale y Potrero Hill se reunieron frente al Ayuntamiento de San Francisco para protestar por la privatización de HOPE SF de sus hogares, que es la última vivienda pública en la ciudad, así como por la negligencia intencional y la discriminación por parte de San Francisco y Autoridades de Vivienda de Oakland.
Los residentes hablaron sobre cómo HOPE SF, la Autoridad de Vivienda de San Francisco (SFHA), los desarrolladores Mercy Housing y Related California en Sunnydale, y BRIDGE Housing y el Proyecto Shanti sin fines de lucro en Potrero Hill están desplazando a las personas de sus hogares para demolerlos y allanar el camino para los desarrolladores para construir en la tierra. Muchos también hablaron sobre la manipulación y las mentiras que han enfrentado de SFHA, HOPE SF y los desarrolladores.
Los residentes describieron las peligrosas condiciones en las que SFHA los ha hecho vivir para justificar la privatización, y que las empresas de gestión privada no mejoran estas condiciones, sino que continúan descuidando los desarrollos y hacen que los residentes sean más vulnerables al desplazamiento y al aumento de los alquileres. La gente enfatizó la necesidad no solo de preservar la vivienda pública sino de mejorarla, y se pronunció contra las autoridades de vivienda que discriminan a los inmigrantes, cobrando más a las familias por el alquiler si tienen ‘estatus mixto’.
Esta acción fue parte de una semana nacional de protestas con los residentes de la ciudad de Nueva York y Boston contra la privatización de la vivienda pública y contra los grandes bancos como Bank of America que se benefician de la privatización y la gentrificación de los vecindarios. Los residentes de Harlem River Houses en la ciudad de Nueva York llamaron a San Francisco para mostrar su apoyo y enfatizaron que este es un movimiento nacional contra la privatización, y un orador terminó su discurso con: “Estoy con ustedes aquí en Nueva York, tenemos todos ustedes, ¡los tenemos de vuelta! “
La protesta también marcó el primer día de recolección de firmas en una petición de toda la ciudad de los residentes de Sunnydale y Potrero Hill que se oponen a la privatización de viviendas públicas de HOPE SF, así como a la discriminación y el acoso de la SFHA y la administración privada.
Para obtener más información, comuníquese con el Frente Unido contra el Desplazamiento (Área de la Bahía) al 510-815-9978 o firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Estamos aquí porque no aceptamos la situación de las viviendas. Los niños necesitan sus espacios, sus yardas. Salimos de un confinamiento después de la pandemia para entrar a una cárcel. No nos dicen las verdad, nos están manipulando con mentiras, nos están manipulando con miedo, que si no nos movemos vamos a quedar solos…los están poniendo miedo en las personas para que no se levanten, para que no hagan nada, para que piensan que están solos. No aceptamos que nuestras viviendas están vendidas y que después de nosotros pagan mes tras mes la renta de un día para otro nos tiran para la basura como si fuéremos nada. La renta va a aumentar, porque se tiene que pagar biles. ¿De donde? si no hay dinero, porque la gente no tiene dinero. ¿Que van a hacer? Botar a la calle…a la cárcel después.”
“We are here because we don’t accept the situation in public housing. The children need their space, their yards. We are leaving the lockdown after this pandemic only to enter a jail. They aren’t telling us the truth, they are manipulating us with lies, they are manipulating us with fear, that if we don’t move we will be kicked out of housing… they are putting fear into people so that they don’t rise up, so that they don’t do anything, so that they think they are alone. We don’t accept our homes being sold, and that after paying our rent month after month only to have them throw us in the trash one day as if we were nothing. The rent is going to go up, because you’ll have to pay utility bills. How? If there’s no money, and the people don’t have any money. What are they going to do? Throw us to the curb, and in jail after.”
“Yo estoy aqui por mis hijos también y quiero que nos respetan y que no los quiten nuestras viviendas…y también que nos traten iguales porque están discriminando a las familias mixtas: nos están cobrando mas renta porque supuestamente somos familia mixta, y esto solamente es un pretexto para cobrarnos más dinero cuando otra personas pagan la minima de la renta, $25.
San Francisco se queja de que mucho gente vivienda en la calle, pero nos quiere ver igual a ellos…la gente está viviendo en la calle porque no los dan una oportunidad tener una vivienda porque apenas de sacar un vivienda espesan a trabajar y las quieren cobrar la mas alta de renta porque.”
“I’m here for my children too, and I want them to respect us and not take away our homes…I want equal treatment because they are discriminating against “mixed families”: we are being charged more rent because we are supposedly “mixed families.” This is only a pretext for charging us more money, when other people are paying the absolute minimum rent of $25.
San Francisco complains about the many people living on the streets, but they want to see as living just like them…people are living on the street on the street because they haven’t been given a chance to have a home. Just to get a house, they need to have already started working and housing wants to charge them the maximum rent.”
“Estamos discriminados por ser latinos. Están cobrando doble la renta que normalmente cobran a una persona con documentos. Esto es discriminacion.
Muchas familias están sufriendo de todo esto, y sus hijos no tengan suficiente para comer porque tienen que pagar renta—es una injusticia. Es tan horrible lo que están pasando en los apartamentos: no están arreglando los apartamentos, están deteriorados porque quieren que vayamos.”
“We are being discriminated against for being Latinos. We are being charged double the rent normally charged to a person with documents. This is discrimination.
Many families are suffering from all of this, and their children don’t have enough to eat because their parents have to pay rent—this is an injustice. It’s so horrible what’s happening in the apartments: they aren’t fixing up the apartments, they are deteriorating because they are hoping that we will just leave.”
“I’ve been a Sunnydale resident for 16 years. I’ve raised all my children in housing, and I was able to raise them because it was affordable at the time. As a single parent, I’ve raised my five children…and it really bothers me to see what they are doing at this time, privatizing the place where we live.
You’re putting us in this one boxed section, to live under all the things that are going to be happening in there. We are going to have more problems in those places than we are now. Privatizing our living situation won’t help what’s happening now. The crime is going to be higher, the maintenance problems in the building are going to be neglected. What about all the young women who are single parents who live there, senior citizens, and all the children?
I am very disappointed with how the system is working at this point in time.
I care about my community where I live at. I have a lot of senior friends, I know a lot of children who live there. And they do not want to move, because they know what they are going to face when they move into those private buildings. They got all these rules set up for us. If I pay rent, I expect to at least have freedom to live and be happy.
I’m going to stand together with us here, and we’re going to fight to the end! Power to the people!”
“He sido residente de Sunnydale por 16 años. He criado a todos mis hijos aqui y he pudido criarlos porque era económico en ese momento. Como madre soltera, he criado a mis cinco hijos … y realmente me molesta ver lo que están haciendo en este momento, privatizando el lugar donde vivimos.
Nos estás colocando en un espacio confinado, para vivir bajo todas las cosas que van a suceder allí. Vamos a tener más problemas en esos lugares de los que tenemos ahora. Privatizar nuestra situación de vida no ayudará a lo que está sucediendo ahora. La delincuencia va a ser mayor y van a descuidar los problemas de mantenimiento del edificio. ¿Qué pasa con todas las mujeres jóvenes que son madres solteras que viven allí, las personas mayores y todos los niños?
Estoy muy decepcionado con el funcionamiento del sistema en este momento.
Me preocupo por mi comunidad donde vivo. Tengo muchos amigos mayores, conozco a muchos niños que viven allí. Y no quieren mudarse, porque saben a lo que se van a enfrentar cuando se muden a esos edificios privados. Nos establecieron todas estas reglas. Si pago el alquiler, espero al menos tener libertad para vivir y ser feliz.
¡Voy a estar junto con todos ustedes unidos aquí y vamos a luchar hasta el final! ¡Poder a la gente!”
“We are all in this struggle together, we are just one big group trying to get this done.
We are under fire right now, being bullied and pressured by RAD and PACT… right now they want us to sign leases with a despicable company called CNC Management, known for dirty tactics, bullying and harassment and not making repairs for tenants. New leases don’t protect us. They don’t protect us in New York City and they don’t protect you in the Bay Area.
I’m with you right here in New York, we got y’all, we got y’all’s back!”
“Todos estamos juntos en esta lucha, somos solo un gran grupo tratando de hacer esto.
Estamos bajo fuego en este momento, siendo intimidados y presionados por RAD y PACT … ahora quieren que firmemos contratos de arrendamiento con una compañía despreciable llamada CNC Management, conocida por sus tácticas sucias, intimidación y acoso y la negligencia hacia reparaciones para los inquilinos. Los nuevos arrendamientos no nos protegen. No nos protegen en la ciudad de Nueva York y no lo protegen a usted en el Área de la Bahía.
Estoy con ustedes aquí mismo en Nueva York. ¡Estamos aquí para apoyarnos mutuamente!
On Saturday, June 12th at 3pm at San Francisco City Hall, tenants of the last two public housing developments in San Francisco, Sunnydale and Potrero Hill, alongside Oakland public housing tenants, will protest the nationwide privatization of public housing and intentional neglect by the San Francisco and Oakland Housing Authorities.
This protest is part of a nationally coordinated effort with public housing tenants in New York and Boston, who on June 10th are protesting Bank of America, which funds and profits from gentrification and the privatization of public housing across the country.
In San Francisco, Sunnydale and Potrero Hill tenants are protesting the HOPE SF scheme, which is destroying their homes to pave the way for private developers Mercy Housing and Related California at Sunnydale, and BRIDGE Housing at Potrero Hill, to make a huge profit from pushing people out of their homes and building luxury condos. The HOPE SF scheme isn’t about “revitalizing” San Francisco, it’s a plan by the politicians, real estate developers, and banks including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan Chase to get richer.
San Francisco tenants and Cypress Village tenants from Oakland are also speaking out against SFHA’s and OHA’s deliberate neglect of basic repairs and maintenance of buildings, which is part of their strategy to justify handing public housing to the banks and developers. All the while, the Housing Authorities are corrupt and show favoritism to certain tenants. After many families have lost work due to the pandemic, the Housing Authorities have not adjusted their rents, forcing people to pay more than they can afford. Housing Authorities also charge families with mixed immigration status a higher percentage of their income.
The nationwide privatization of public housing is being sold to tenants as an improvement of their situation, but tenants know this is a lie. San Francisco and Oakland public housing tenants are taking a stand with public housing tenants across the country.
El sábado 12 de junio a las 3 pm en el Ayuntamiento de San Francisco, los inquilinos de los dos últimos desarrollos de viviendas públicas en San Francisco, Sunnydale y Potrero Hill, junto con los inquilinos de viviendas públicas de Oakland, protestarán contra la privatización a nivel nacional de las viviendas públicas y la negligencia intencional por parte de San Francisco. Autoridades de Vivienda de Francisco y Oakland.
Esta protesta es parte de un esfuerzo coordinado a nivel nacional con los inquilinos de viviendas públicas en Nueva York y Boston, quienes el 10 de junio están protestando contra el Bank of America, que financia y se beneficia de la gentrificación y la privatización de la vivienda pública en todo el país.
En San Francisco, los inquilinos de Sunnydale y Potrero Hill están protestando contra el esquema HOPE SF, que está destruyendo sus casas para allanar el camino para que los desarrolladores privados Mercy Housing y Related California en Sunnydale y BRIDGE Housing en Potrero Hill, obtengan una gran ganancia al presionar gente fuera de sus casas y construyendo condominios de lujo. El esquema HOPE SF no se trata de “revitalizar” San Francisco, es un plan de políticos, promotores inmobiliarios y bancos como Bank of America, Wells Fargo y JP Morgan Chase para enriquecerse.
Los inquilinos de San Francisco y Cypress Village de Oakland también se están pronunciando en contra del descuido deliberado de SFHA y OHA de las reparaciones básicas y el mantenimiento de edificios, que es parte de su estrategia para justificar la entrega de viviendas públicas a los bancos y desarrolladores. Mientras tanto, las autoridades de vivienda son corruptas y muestran favoritismo hacia ciertos inquilinos. Después de que muchas familias perdieron el trabajo debido a la pandemia, las autoridades de vivienda no ajustaron sus rentas, lo que obligó a las personas a pagar más de lo que pueden pagar. Las autoridades de vivienda también cobran a las familias con estatus migratorio mixto un porcentaje más alto de sus ingresos.
La privatización a nivel nacional de la vivienda pública se vende a los inquilinos como una mejora de su situación, pero los inquilinos saben que esto es mentira. Los inquilinos de viviendas públicas de San Francisco y Oakland están adoptando una postura con los inquilinos de viviendas públicas en todo el país.
Contact: United Front Against Displacement 510-815-9978 email@example.com
SAN FRANCISCO HOUSING AUTHORITY MANAGEMENT SCAMS UNDOCUMENTED PUBLIC HOUSING RESIDENTS AT POTRERO HILL, CHARGING 60% OF INCOME
San Francisco Housing Authority management is charging at least ten families with undocumented family members in public housing at Potrero Hill 60% of their income for rent.
These tenants say that the San Francisco Housing Authority management told them they had to pay 60% of their income for rent because of a regulation change made under the Trump administration. These tenants have not been given rent receipts when they pay their rent.
The San Francisco Housing Authority has a history of corruption and stealing from residents, and of planned neglect of buildings. This extortion is occurring at the same time that the residents are being displaced and priced out of their homes by the San Francisco Housing Authority, in collaboration with HOPE SF, BRIDGE Housing at Potrero Hill, and Mercy Housing and Related California at Sunnydale, to make way for market rate housing units. SFHA is neglecting tenants’ needs and maintenance requests and forcing them to live in dangerous conditions, so that these private management companies can pressure tenants to sign leases with them and leave public housing. Their plan is to eliminate the last public housing in the city at Potrero Hill and Sunnydale. Meanwhile, tenants have continued to suffer great negligence and racist abuse from managers.
Please contact us if you are interested in interviewing residents and attending a future protest residents are organizing to expose these atrocities.
On Friday, May 28 at 5pm, tenants protesting the privatization of their public housing developments in Harlem and throughout New York City will gather at the State Building at 125th street for a rally and public information event. The event will be a celebration of several months of organizing among several housing sites in New York City as well as of the partial victory—the scaling back of NYCHA CEO Greg Russ’s initial plan to privatize all remaining 110,000 units NYCHA housing stock to 25,000 units under the notorious “Blueprint” (section 18) housing plan. This retreat by Privatization Czar Russ followed a month of outrage in protests and media throughout New York City.
The Friday event is also a rallying cry for the harder fight ahead, a struggle against the privatization and inevitable displacement that is still promoted by leading politicians in both parties and their friends in the leading financial institutions. These plans have been advanced by the deliberate neglect of basic repairs and maintenance of NYCHA buildings, by a strategy to run the housing into the ground and then to hand over what is left to the market.People from the president of the US to the leading bankers in NY to the hopeful candidates in upcoming elections all are paying empty lip-service to “affordable housing” while selling out this housing to their true “stake-holders”- real-estate developers and Wall Street.
For more information, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 646-780-9657
A recording of an event held May 4, 2021 which featured activists and public housing residents from across the country discussing their experiences and sharing updates from the struggle against the privatization of public housing. Hosted by the United Front Against Displacement and the Justice for All Coalition.
Join public housing tenants from Cypress Village and Lockwood Gardens in Oakland and Sunnydale in San Francisco in a discussion about recent tenant organizing efforts. The San Francisco and Oakland Housing Authorities, just like Housing Authorities across the country, have been forcing tenants to live in dangerous conditions in order to justify selling public housing off to the highest bidder. Tenants at the few public housing projects left in the Bay Area are coming together to fight back.
Learn about the nationwide plan by the politicians, the developers, and the banks to eliminate all public housing by handing it over to private developers and management companies, and what tenants in the Bay Area are doing to stop it! There will be a brief presentation and some roundtable discussion about how people can work together to fight against the privatization of public housing and gentrification locally and nationally.
This event is part of a national movement. On May 4, over 100 people participated in a Truth Commission on the nationwide privatization of public housing across on Zoom. Tenants are organizing in San Francisco, Oakland, New York, Boston, and Minneapolis.
In Oakland, tenants have been organizing at the last two public housing developments in the city: Cypress Village in West Oakland and Lockwood Gardens in East Oakland. Cypress and Lockwood are not currently facing privatization but residents have been organizing to form independent tenant unions to fight for residents’ interests and be prepared to fight against privatization.
In San Francisco, there is a citywide privatization plan called HOPE SF. The city government, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Google, Kaiser Permanente, and foundations in the city are working together via the HOPE SF scheme. HOPE SF’s plan is to eliminate the last public housing in San Francisco (Sunnydale, Potrero, Double Rock/Alice Griffith, and Hunters View) by destroying it and building mixed income developments owned and managed by different private developers like Mercy Housing, the John Stewart Company, and BRIDGE Housing.
There are only two remaining public housing developments still under the San Francisco Housing Authority: Sunnydale and Potrero. Tenants at Sunnydale have been organizing to resist the privatization and destruction of their homes, to not be bullied into signing leases with the private developer Mercy Housing, and to speak up about the truth that these private developers are just going to make the situation worse for residents and leave them more vulnerable, as we’ve seen in developments that have been privatized in the Bay Area and across the country. Sunnydale residents have been working with residents at Potrero and privatized developments like Double Rock.
This event is sponsored by the United Front Against Displacement, the Cypress Village Tenant Union, and the Residents of Sunnydale.
Residents of Harlem River Houses and Fulton Houses were joined by neighbors from across the five boroughs on Saturday May 1st at Charles Young Triangle in East Harlem (153rd and Macombs Pl) for a rally and march, and to commence a rent-strike starting the same day.
The rent strike is an oppositional measure taken in the face of attempts by NYCHA and the City to convert their homes to Section 8 and private management through the RAD/PACT program. Lawyer Arthur Schwartz, with Advocates for Justice, was among the attendees and speakers, and was collecting checks to deposit into the escrow account, officially initiating the process.
After the rally, which included speakers from Harlem River and Fulton Houses, as well as Holmes Towers & residents on the front lines against RAD and privatization in Boston and Minneapolis, the group marched in Harlem River Houses demanding homes remain in service of people, not profit.
“The vast majority of Harlem River Tenants did not ask for RAD, did not approve RAD, and will fight back against this attempt to destabilize and displace working class families. We plan to unite with others facing RAD takeovers and similar schemes across the city and throughout the country. We will not be bullied into signing new leases designed to allow privatecompanies to raise rents and make windfall profits.”
The event was co-sponsored by the United Front Against Displacement (UFAD) and the Justice for All Coalition (JFAC), and was attended by delegations from Committee for Independent Community Action (CICA), CAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, and the Holmes-Isaacs Coalition.
Speakers will include residents living in RAD-converted developments in NYC (or those in process), as well as residents from Boston, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Oakland who are on the frontlines of the privatization of public housing.
For more information on the events of at Harlem River Houses, please contact email@example.com , 646-780-9657
For more information on the Truth Commission, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, 347 531– 8339
Some Quotations from the Rally at Harlem River Houses on Sat. May 1st:
“The reason they are changing stuff is because we are not fighting. A lot of people are fighting for a lot of stuff and they come together and they win. Like the union, they come together and they fight and they win But we are standing here today for that one reason, to fight against New York City Housing so they don’t take you out. Fight for your place where you live today, and don’t let NYC Housing try to pull you out of something where you came out from to be where you are to be where you are now. I was five years homeless in the streets and I walked by 8th avenue and Frederick Douglas Blvd, and I walked by 2850 [Frederick Douglas where Harlem River Public Housing is located] and now I live in that same building that I passed by a couple of years back … We got to come together. You can’t be afraid.”
“They were gonna take all the air, all the sunlight away from me and all the people in my development, but we fought back, and you all have to fight back … They think they’re gonna take it from us and we’re gonna lay down, but we’re going to fight. We started a lawsuit, we knocked on those doors, we said stand up and fight with us, and we won.”
“[Chuck Schumer] announced last week, he did a press conference … He said We’re gonna get NYCHA $40 billion to meet all the capital needs that they have. Now I don’t necessarily trust NYCHA to spend the $40 billion properly. But once they get this money they don’t need RAD, they don’t need privatization. Because the excuse they’ve been giving is that the federal government never funds NYCHA enough to do the repairs we need. Now it’s very likely that sometime in June, NYCHA is going to get $40 billion to fix every last piece of these falling apart buildings that you live in … So, I wrote a letter to Greg Russ, it’s on the table over there, and I said, Mr. Russ, I had written to him about Fulton … Why are you forcing people—I heard about at Harlem River Houses—to sign these leases. The leases, I don’t care what the Legal Aid Society Says [Legal Aid has a contract to work with RAD conversions] do not give people the rights they have as NYCHA tenants. Because the NYCHA lease says right in the leases you have rights under federal law and state law. And these RAD laws don’t say that. They are private sector leases just like for people who reside in private buildings… So I wrote to him and said these leases take away rights from people, and you don’t need the money from these private corporations that you’re inviting to run NYCHA. He wrote me back in three days, and I said if you don’t stop, stop forcing people at Harlem River Houses to sign leases and put RAD on hold until the federal government acts on this bill, I’m going to court to sue you.”
“Sisters and Brothers of Harlem River and Fulton Public Housing. We are in Solidarity with You. Stand up against Greg Russ and his developers and the city officials who want to displace your homes and communities through RAD and privatization without your consent. Continue to organize and fight to save your homes and communities. Continue to speak truth to power, and let the world know how Greg Russ deceives us, and through privatization, and gentrification is deceiving and misleading you … Greg Russ came to lead our public housing from 2017 to 2019. He lied, he bullied, he intimidated – to silence residents into accepting RAD; he used non-profits, developers, banks, mainstream media elected officials to push his plan.”
“We should be unified. We can beat these people, we will beat these people, we must beat these people. We cannot let these people tell us how to live without dignity. We want dignity and the only way we’re gonna get it is if we have to do it, we will fight for it. We will not let our houses become condominiums for rich people, and we will put our money into escrow.”