Red Hook Residents Organize Against NYCHA


At a community meeting in Red Hook Wednesday night, residents of the Red Hook Houses called for demonstrations, a rent strike, and a lawsuit against their landlord, New York City Housing Authority, because they have had no heat, hot water or electricity for more than two weeks, DNAinfo reported. The meeting, which took place at P.S. 27, was attended by about 150 people, including artists, business owners, Occupy Sandy members, Community Board 6 members, and church leaders. As of yesterday morning, 20 of 32 Red Hook Houses buildings still did not have heat or hot water, according to NYCHA. The agency did not perform a door-to-door wellness check on the project until 15 days after the hurricane. Red Hook resident and Deputy Attorney-in-Charge for Legal Aid’s criminal practice Tina Luongo said Legal Aid is exploring the possibility of a lawsuit against NYCHA.
Red Hook Residents Call for Marches, Strikes, Lawsuits Against NYCHA [DNAinfo]
Photo by DNAinfo

70 Comment

  • no-permits

    if you live for free, or close to it, how can you rent strike?

  • dash

    Really no-permits? REALLY?

  • dash

    Really no-permits? REALLY?

  • daveinbedstuy

    Self entitled mindset, no-permits????

    That said, the NYCHA is really one of the most incompetent, poorly run, beauracratic, over staffed examples of government around.

    • And one presided over by a man for whom our illustrious and über-competent (ha ha) mayor expressed total support and confidence in just a short few weeks ago. Shades of “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”

  • I would agree with no-permits. Median rents in most NYCHA properties are so low, that a “rent strike” is largely symbolic.

    NYCHA doesn’t get much revenue from rents, and the tenants shouldn’t receive special treatment. If they don’t like it, there are hundreds of thousands of needy residents on the wait lists for NYCHA, who would happily take their units.

  • No-permits apparently a kindred spirit, if not direct descendant, of Marie Antoinette. Only a twisted world view equates restoration of services with preferential treatment.

    • no-permits

      cup, they can wait in line like everyone else.

      there are tons of people that haven’t been able to return to their homes or even start rebuilding because of the storm. even other residents of red hook but they are not making noise. think about the flood damaged homes. the water saturated their walls, floors, clothing, furniture etc. they can’t do anything without power or a generator.

    • no-permits

      cup, they can wait in line like everyone else.

      there are tons of people that haven’t been able to return to their homes or even start rebuilding because of the storm. even other residents of red hook but they are not making noise. think about the flood damaged homes. the water saturated their walls, floors, clothing, furniture etc. they can’t do anything without power or a generator.

  • Havemeyer

    My understanding of this issue is pretty limited, but from what I heard the NYCA IS planning on giving them rebates–except they’re not going to take effect until 2013–at which point some tenants, who may not have been paying rent (and why should they–all of the privately owned apartments in downtown Manhattan have offered rebates) may end up in eviction. It’s a mess.

    There’s an organization, Brooklyn Jubilee, that’s looking for volunteer lawyers to help.

    http://www.brooklynjubilee.org/hurricane_sandy_resources_for_victims_and_advocate

    There are probably other organizations doing the same thing–this is just the one I heard about.

    The mean-spiritedness from some of you is no big surprise, but one assumes you were all raised by Ayn Rand-reading wolves and have such entitled senses of self-importance that there’s not much point in arguing with you. I am sure, however, if the artists in Red Hook need help rebuilding their etsy stores, you’ll be there, to help your community, as they’ll probably have food trucks and a good band.

    • hate to break it to you, but most of businesses Sandy damaged in Red Hook are hardly trendy. Cornell Paper, Carvert glass, Smitt’s auto repair shop all suffered losses. These guys don’t employ RISD grads and nobody going to donate them to them on Kickstart. The restaurants and bars that are organizing and fundraising in order to reopen– some that even own their own food trucks — I say, more power to them.

    • hate to break it to you, but most of businesses Sandy damaged in Red Hook are hardly trendy. Cornell Paper, Carvert glass, Smitt’s auto repair shop all suffered losses. These guys don’t employ RISD grads and nobody going to donate them to them on Kickstart. The restaurants and bars that are organizing and fundraising in order to reopen– some that even own their own food trucks — I say, more power to them.

  • daveinbedstuy

    heather, I’m surprised you didn’t trot out Bush as a reason. Ayn Rand???? Really???

  • While there are thousands of people still in need of help, still without power and water, the people in the Red Hook Projects are hampered by two things – they are in NYCHA, and they are poor.

    Authorities erroneously thought that NYCHA would be on top of this, which they aren’t, and poor people, especially in public housing, get no sympathy from people like no permits, who think that people live there for free. The vast majority of them have never lived there “for free.” That’s not how public housing works.

    And even if they were, so what? Basic elements of housing should not be denied anyone, or make them last on the list for anyone, simply because of lack of income. People in need are in need. Period.

    Sandy left millions in varying degrees of devastation, and everyone who needs help should be getting it by now. There’s not a person here who would not be screaming in frustration by now, or talking to lawyers, if this had happened to them. Why should the Red Hook Houses people be any different?

    • Montrose, nice to read your post. I’ve suspected that since you moved to Troy you’d given up on Brownstoner — one of the reasons I post much less these days — and only recycle old Buildings of the Day.

      You’re alive!

      NOP

  • While there are thousands of people still in need of help, still without power and water, the people in the Red Hook Projects are hampered by two things – they are in NYCHA, and they are poor.

    Authorities erroneously thought that NYCHA would be on top of this, which they aren’t, and poor people, especially in public housing, get no sympathy from people like no permits, who think that people live there for free. The vast majority of them have never lived there “for free.” That’s not how public housing works.

    And even if they were, so what? Basic elements of housing should not be denied anyone, or make them last on the list for anyone, simply because of lack of income. People in need are in need. Period.

    Sandy left millions in varying degrees of devastation, and everyone who needs help should be getting it by now. There’s not a person here who would not be screaming in frustration by now, or talking to lawyers, if this had happened to them. Why should the Red Hook Houses people be any different?

  • Interesting how people in these housing projects organize when it suits their needs, but when everything is calm they go about abusing the welfare system. Maybe this will be an incentive to force them to stop sucking the governments breast and get out of the projects. Artists, occupy sandy members, community board 6 members and church, all abusers of the system. Give me a break and wait in line like everyone else.

    • How is it “abusing” the welfare system to live in public housing? People who live in public housing have every right to live there. They have been screened for income, for employment, for drugs and criminal records. People are ignorant about the role that public housing plays in our city – it allows working people to live and work here which ultimately helps all of us who use businesses that depend on lower priced labor. Do you think people can afford to work at Fairway or Ikea and then pay Red Hook rents! This is a public good that we all benefit from. Furthermore, You want to talk about welfare abuse? How about the $300K salaries of the NYCHA leadership who do nothing? How about the fact that they are sitting on $1Billion of tax payer money supposed in a account specifically for building maintenance? Most of the negative comments about public housing and the people who utilize it are, frankly, racist in nature, and reflect a total ignorance of how other people live. .

      • no-permits

        as a landlord, i have had many NYCHA tenants over the years. i have not had a single tenant that paid more than $300/month for their share. very few of them worked. it was usually hell trying to get the small share they were supposed to pay out of them too. i won’t even talk about the constant repairs, painting, damage, peeing/drugs/drinking and hanging out in the hallways and other problems.

        • “…as a landlord, i have had many NYCHA tenants over the years. i have not had a single tenant that paid more than $300/month for their share. …”
          Tell us more about your NYCHA tenants, noper. Do you have a paid position inside NYCHA housing, or are you talking about Section 8? If Section 8, you did INTENTIONALLY opt in, didn’t you? For all we know, you opted in with the hope of driving other tenants out.
          What’s the condition of the properties you rent? What rents do your apartments command on the open market, assuming any open market tenant would choose to live there. How much subsidy do you get on top of tenants’ alleged $300 or less? How much of a tax write-off do you get beyond the subsidy you receive? Are repairs requiring permits made with permits? Are they made at all, and made promptly or, considering your bitterness and resentment, do you apply your dictum “make them wait like everyone else”?

          • Havemeyer

            I’m sure he doesn’t take subsidies, that would be like welfare.

          • You’re right. It must not be a subsidy. It must be an entitlement.

          • You’re right. It must not be a subsidy. It must be an entitlement.

          • no-permits

            “I’m sure he doesn’t take subsidies, that would be like welfare.”

            on what planet is being compensated for services provided a subsidy?

          • no-permits

            “What’s the condition of the properties you rent? What rents do your apartments command on the open market, assuming any open market tenant would choose to live there. How much subsidy do you get on top of tenants’ alleged $300 or less? How much of a tax write-off do you get beyond the subsidy you receive? Are repairs requiring permits made with permits? Are they made at all, and made promptly or, considering your bitterness and resentment, do you apply your dictum “make them wait like everyone else”?”

            i’m talking years ago we had tenants like that. anyone who owned property in most parts of the city had to put up with similar or worse back then. what tax write-off? driving other tenants out? you sound clueless..

          • no-permits

            “What’s the condition of the properties you rent? What rents do your apartments command on the open market, assuming any open market tenant would choose to live there. How much subsidy do you get on top of tenants’ alleged $300 or less? How much of a tax write-off do you get beyond the subsidy you receive? Are repairs requiring permits made with permits? Are they made at all, and made promptly or, considering your bitterness and resentment, do you apply your dictum “make them wait like everyone else”?”

            i’m talking years ago we had tenants like that. anyone who owned property in most parts of the city had to put up with similar or worse back then. what tax write-off? driving other tenants out? you sound clueless..

    • “Interesting how people in these housing projects organize when it suits their needs, but when everything is calm they go about abusing the welfare system.”

      You have obviously not spent much time in Red Hook.

      The fact that this community is functioning at all is because of the well-organized citizens of the Red Hook Houses and the longstanding coordination of our local not-for-profits and for-profit businesses. In the storm’s aftermath, Red Hook Initiative (a 10-year-old social services nonprofit, staffed by residents of the Houses), Added Value (our community farm, staffed by teenage residents of the Houses), PortSide New York and The Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corp set up a circuit of support for our residents. For those with access to email, our longstanding cc lists (usually reserved for finding lost dogs and announcing community board meetings) went into overdrive to direct people to resources. The restaurants and bars that support RHI’s annual “Taste of Red Hook” event cooked their remaining food for residents (for free, of course), and RHI directed volunteers to help clean out those businesses.

      There was no government system to abuse, not breast to suck. Certainly no Red Cross. Just smart, well-organized people doing what they do anyway, under extremely challenging conditions. Red Hook may not be a wealthy community, and our housing stock may not be fancy, and we may have issues with authority, but we are nothing if not organized.

    • “Interesting how people in these housing projects organize when it suits their needs, but when everything is calm they go about abusing the welfare system.”

      You have obviously not spent much time in Red Hook.

      The fact that this community is functioning at all is because of the well-organized citizens of the Red Hook Houses and the longstanding coordination of our local not-for-profits and for-profit businesses. In the storm’s aftermath, Red Hook Initiative (a 10-year-old social services nonprofit, staffed by residents of the Houses), Added Value (our community farm, staffed by teenage residents of the Houses), PortSide New York and The Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corp set up a circuit of support for our residents. For those with access to email, our longstanding cc lists (usually reserved for finding lost dogs and announcing community board meetings) went into overdrive to direct people to resources. The restaurants and bars that support RHI’s annual “Taste of Red Hook” event cooked their remaining food for residents (for free, of course), and RHI directed volunteers to help clean out those businesses.

      There was no government system to abuse, not breast to suck. Certainly no Red Cross. Just smart, well-organized people doing what they do anyway, under extremely challenging conditions. Red Hook may not be a wealthy community, and our housing stock may not be fancy, and we may have issues with authority, but we are nothing if not organized.

  • Interesting how people in these housing projects organize when it suits their needs, but when everything is calm they go about abusing the welfare system. Maybe this will be an incentive to force them to stop sucking the governments breast and get out of the projects. Artists, occupy sandy members, community board 6 members and church, all abusers of the system. Give me a break and wait in line like everyone else.

  • no-permits

    power is the last thing a lot of people are thinking about in truly devastated areas. they would sleep in the cold to be back in their own beds, but sadly a lot of them don’t even have a home to go back to.

    • Let’s not pit the people who lost their homes entirely against the people who have to live without heat and hot water after weeks without electricity. Both are victims of a devastating storm, and both need assistance in recovering.

  • I’m sure it’s pointless to point out that not everyone in the projects is on welfare. Subsidized housing was put in place to aid the working poor who can’t afford market rate housing. That’s “working poor”, with an emphasis on “working”. I know plenty of people who live, or have lived in the projects, and very few of them were on welfare or benefits. Most of them work damn hard at low paying jobs, but would be even worse off had they not qualified to live in NYCHA housing. They wouldn’t be there if they could do better, but they can’t do better. That doesn’t mean they are “sucking from the government breast.” Nothing like letting a few people who may be abusing the system define the thousands who don’t.

  • I’m sure it’s pointless to point out that not everyone in the projects is on welfare. Subsidized housing was put in place to aid the working poor who can’t afford market rate housing. That’s “working poor”, with an emphasis on “working”. I know plenty of people who live, or have lived in the projects, and very few of them were on welfare or benefits. Most of them work damn hard at low paying jobs, but would be even worse off had they not qualified to live in NYCHA housing. They wouldn’t be there if they could do better, but they can’t do better. That doesn’t mean they are “sucking from the government breast.” Nothing like letting a few people who may be abusing the system define the thousands who don’t.

  • “people who utilize it are, frankly, racist in nature”

    Dammit I was about to bet money on this. Can’t go more than a few comments in any subject like this before someone pulls a race card out of nowhere. Only a few more comments before Hitler is brought up.

    • Poor mrshankly. The race card didn’t come from nowhere. It came from your own pocket. And just FYI, racism doesn’t vanish just because you deny it.

      • dittoburg

        Nope, he was referring to someone else pulling out the race card. And making the accusation all the time just dilutes it, doesn’t advance anything, and stops the conversation. Try living in a “racially homogenous” community and you’ll see the poor people living in housing projects get exactly the same amount of sympathy and hatred as they do here. Don’t get confused by accusations of racism. Just FYI of course.

        Aside from that, all these people want is basic amenities that they ARE entitled too in a civilized society in a part of the world where it gets plenty cold! Poor sods, if I was in their position I’d be rising up and organizing too.

  • NeoGrec

    Ranking suffering is a divisive strategy usually engaged in by those who wish to divert our attention from that suffering.

  • NeoGrec

    Ranking suffering is a divisive strategy usually engaged in by those who wish to divert our attention from that suffering.

  • Havemeyer

    Dave, Bush isn’t self-reliant enough for no-permits. Also, lol.

  • Now that DIBS is half out of Brooklyn, there is nothing left of him but the BS.

  • No Permits, I’ve heard some ignorant things said on this site but your comments take the cake. The scope of your dismissive condescension is Romneyesque in its grandiosity – well done.

    Are you saying that homeowners in Queens, Staten Island, and Long Island, have a right to be publicly angry with their lack of heat and electricity but rent paying (regardless of how much) tenants in public housing, most who work – should just smile and jive and be grateful to be living under NYCHA?

    I thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ I don’t live in any of your buildings – you sound and smell like a slumlord.

    • no-permits

      “Are you saying that homeowners in Queens, Staten Island, and Long Island, have a right to be publicly angry with their lack of heat and electricity but rent paying (regardless of how much) tenants in public housing, most who work – should just smile and jive and be grateful to be living under NYCHA?”

      crown, did i say that? or did i say they should get in line. either way, the most devastated areas should have service restored first. if you’re going to argue about that, you have no clue what some of these neighborhoods look like.

      • No Permits. Some of my family live in the Rockaways. They were without heat and electricity for over a week, and as a former resident of the Rockaways – I do have a clue.

        “the most devastated areas should have service restored first.” ? “They should wait in line”?

        What does that mean? What does one have to do with the other? Why this false dichotomy ? Makes no sense.

        Can you say with a straight face that you would quietly “wait in line” if you were without power and heat for over two weeks?

        • no-permits

          i’m glad you brought up the rockaways.

          people in the rockaways are very patiently waiting in line. houses are actually being DISCONNECTED from the poles by LIPA so that street lights can be restored. many of the lines are still down because the houses either floated away or burned down and many others have flooded basements.

          the difference here is that people in breezy point and rockaway understand why their power has not been restored. it is not safe.

        • no-permits

          i’m glad you brought up the rockaways.

          people in the rockaways are very patiently waiting in line. houses are actually being DISCONNECTED from the poles by LIPA so that street lights can be restored. many of the lines are still down because the houses either floated away or burned down and many others have flooded basements.

          the difference here is that people in breezy point and rockaway understand why their power has not been restored. it is not safe.

        • no-permits

          and since you know people in the rockaways. i assume they were flooded, correct? how are they gutting their house and doing mold remediation without power? rockaway residents are returning home almost everyday to do what they can while it is light out, then spend two hours in traffic each night because without electricity everyone is leaving the peninsula about the same time getting to brooklyn. and still, you don’t hear them making noise.

          • People in the Rockaways are “patiently waiting in line” – Really?

            It’s news to me that Rockaway’s residents are totally content with mother nature’s lashing – compounded by LIPA’S unpreparedness and incompetence but then again, I get my news and info from people on planet earth.

            I still don’t know what Red Hook’s residents with no heat/hot water, or electricity having gripes with their NYCHA landlord & Con Ed has to do with Rockaway’s home owners and LIPA?

            Why does it have be just one proverbial line?

        • no-permits

          and since you know people in the rockaways. i assume they were flooded, correct? how are they gutting their house and doing mold remediation without power? rockaway residents are returning home almost everyday to do what they can while it is light out, then spend two hours in traffic each night because without electricity everyone is leaving the peninsula about the same time getting to brooklyn. and still, you don’t hear them making noise.

  • I think the negative responses are inspired by the assumption housing project tenants don’t pay rent and or pay their rent w/ welfare checks.

    Eme is right. Tenants are screened for income and criminal history. It is my understanding, but I’m not sure, there is a rule that if a family member is convicted of a felony, the rest of the family can be evicted. If so, it’s not enforced.

    I know a lot of decent, rightous people in public housing. I don’t assume everyone there is leaching off the public tit. BUT, there doesn’t seem to be firm rules in place for expunging the bad players that spread misery to other public housing tenants and the public at large. My suspicion is if that rule exists and or was enforced, a lot of the crime and social problems that fester and spread out from housing projects would not. And many people wouldn’t have such resentment for lower income families that are benefitting from state and federal largesse. The hostility towards lower income communities is not about race or hating poor people, it’s the perception there is a proportion of the population which benefits from all kinds of subsidies, but is an ongoing drag on society in expanding social and criminal ways. And, of course, the greatest victims are the other tenants of public housing.

    Outsiders see these places as breeding grounds for different kinds of anti-social behaviour. From having children out of wedlock as teenager, needing to be on welfare, not being capable of being parent/ raising their kids, who then grow up to get into petty troubles, morphing into gang and drug activity which firstly victimizes the law abiding public housing tenants, then the outer community at large, and then becoming a further drag on the public once incarcerated. Wash, repeat. There WERE multiple gun point robberies in Red Hook this summer. There WERE multiple shoot outs between cops and some of the Red Hook Houses residents this summer and fall. The police said the robberies were due to a big crackdown on some of the drug gangs that are part of the Red Hook projects. Again- according to police, the gangs began sending out kids to rob people to make up for lost income.

    Most of the tenants of public housing are great people working hard to provide for their families, AND also provide a valuable recourse for the neighborhood and Brooklyn. Nevertheless, I don’t see some people’s hostility towards the projects as completely hysterical or racist.

    • rpupkin, if you “don’t see some people’s hostility towards the projects as completely hysterical or racist,” and believe that lack of enforcement primarily accounts for gang activity in public housing, I can hardly wait for you to expound on the rise of gang activity in the US military. A brief excerpt from the FBI’s 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment: “…Gang infiltration of the military continues to pose a significant criminal threat, as members of at least 53 gangs have been identified on both domestic and international military installations. Gang members who learn advanced weaponry and combat techniques in the military are at risk of employing these skills on the street when they return to their communities.” http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/2011-national-gang-threat-assessment

      • no-permits

        lack of enforcement? yes, let’s play the blame game.

      • I was referring to enforcement from the Housing Authority. Not police. As in, the police have to do their job, but that the family of convicted criminals should be evicted from public housing. I DON’T know for certain, I just remember reading, so I’m assuming I may be incorrect, that there is a rule like that in place for public housing in NYC. I said I think it would be helpful. Families- mothers/fathers would have a serious incentive to work to keep their kids from tumbling down into deeper and more serious criminal activity, because if/when caught and convicted, the family would lose their apartment. I’m not understanding what you’re saying.

  • Havemeyer

    The planet where you get tax deductions for buying properties at a discount and not maintaining them.

    • no-permits

      heather, that bleeding heart of yours must be making you light headed.

      elaborate on these tax deductions because i’ve never heard of such a thing.

      • Havemeyer

        Oh, no-permits, I’m sure within your curmudgeonly shell there lives a warm, beating heart that loves fluffy kittens and cute babies, and rainbows and sunsets and grandmas.

        Oh, wait. No, I’m not sure of that at all.

        I am no expert on tax codes, but I’m pretty sure, yes, homeowners and property owners do get these things called deductions. I believe there are also tax credits and incentives for Section 8 housing, affordable housing credits… but you probably don’t want to be a leech on society, so I’m sure you don’t take any of them.

        • no-permits

          “I believe there are also tax credits and incentives for Section 8 housing, affordable housing credits…”

          WRONG.

          you do this pretty often, heather. stick to subjects that you know and stop making stuff up.

  • man, poor people really bring out the nasty in a lot of you.

  • man, poor people really bring out the nasty in a lot of you.

  • NOP!, Long time, no hear! Since moving, I’m still “here” in spirit, and also physically, once in a while. No “recycling” since September. Everything since then has been new. Please start commenting again, I miss you.

    Besides, you know my left-leaning bleeding heart can’t leave topics of housing alone.

  • NOP!, Long time, no hear! Since moving, I’m still “here” in spirit, and also physically, once in a while. No “recycling” since September. Everything since then has been new. Please start commenting again, I miss you.

    Besides, you know my left-leaning bleeding heart can’t leave topics of housing alone.

  • “it’s the perception there is a proportion of the population which benefits from all kinds of subsidies, but is an ongoing drag on society in expanding social and criminal ways”

    More “class warfare” unfairly picking on the 1%?