Two as-yet-unbuilt private apartment buildings in the contentious Broadway Triangle area are illegally discriminating against blacks and Hispanics, according to a group called Broadway Triangle Community Coalition, The New York Daily News reported. Hispanics and African Americans who inquired about apartments at 70 Union Avenue and 246 Lynch Street were told there were no applications and turned away, said the group, which sent the applicants. The buildings have already been filled with Hasidim, they said. The buildings are slated to rise in now-empty, privately owned lots in a 31-acre area called Broadway Triangle on the border of Williamsburg, Bushwick and Bed Stuy. Previous plans to build public housing in the area were halted last year by a federal judge on the grounds that the plans “illegally favored Hasidim over blacks and Latinos.” The Broadway Triangle Community Coalition alleges a rezoning of the area in 2009 from industrial to residential use favored the Hasadim, according to the story. A City spokeswoman scoffed at that notion and said, “if private landlords are acting in a discriminatory manner, as is alleged, that is not to be tolerated, and concerned citizens should make a report to the authorities responsible for enforcing laws against discrimination.”
Critics: Two Apartment Buildings Unfairly Filled With Hasidic Families [NY Daily News]
Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark
As of last week, tenants in the Red Hook Houses vowed to do something about conditions after Hurricane Sandy and what they perceive as neglect and unfair treatment from NYCHA, The New York Times reported Friday. The article did not address whether anything had changed later in the week once hot water and heat were reportedly restored to all apartments. Apparently the answer is no. NYCHA residents are planning a city wide action against NYCHA at its headquarters tomorrow morning, Brownstoner has learned. They are calling for NYCHA to cancel rent for November and December, to replace the NYCHA board with one led by community members, to improve transparency and accountability to residents, and employ NYCHA residents to repair buildings, among other things. The protest is scheduled for Tuesday morning from 9 am to 11 am at 250 Broadway in Manhattan.
In Public Housing, a Rising Clamor for Compassion [NY Times]
Photo by NYCHA
Almost three weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit, NYCHA restored power, heat, hot water, and elevator service to all of the buildings hit by the hurricane. According to NYCHA, “There were 402 buildings without electricity and 386 buildings without heat and hot water affecting approximately 80,000 residents.” In Brooklyn, developments in Red Hook, Gowanus, and Coney Island were hit the worst. NYCHA crews will resume managing the buildings as normal today, after sending out third-party cleaning crews, contractors, utility companies and agencies from the city, and representatives from the state and federal government. Last week residents of the Red Hook Houses called for a rent strike and a lawsuit against NYCHA after no heat, hot water or electricity for more than a two week span. Since last Thursday morning, 20 of 32 Red Hook Houses buildings without heat and hot water regained both.
Red Hook Residents Organize Against NYCHA [Brownstoner]
NYCHA Buildings Still Don’t Have Heat and Electricity [Brownstoner]
NYCHA Chairman John Rhea at the Gravesend Houses after Sandy, via 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
Over the weekend, NYCHA worked to restore heat and electricity to public housing developments, and while progress was made there are still many buildings without those resources. As for the electricity status, NYCHA reports that “currently there are 33 buildings within six developments in Brooklyn (Coney Island, Gowanus and Red Hook) and Far Rockaway, Queens, housing approximately 6,847 people where electricity is still out.” In the Red Hook East development, ten out of 18 buildings housing 1,393 residents do not have electricity, and eight out of 18 buildings housing 809 residents do not have heat or hot water. In the Red Hook West development, seven out of 14 buildings housing 2,093 residents don’t have electricity, and seven out of 14 buildings housing 3,206 residents do not have heat or hot water. There are also eight buildings in Coney Island without heat, and one building in Coney without electricity. NYCHA has set up warming centers and plans to bring in temporary boilers to the developments needing them. The boilers are expected to come online over this week. The door-to-door operations servicing NYCHA residents affected by the storm are ongoing. Photo, above, shows damage from Hurricane Sandy in a Red Hook Houses West basement.
NYCHA Hurricane Sandy Update [NYCHA]
Photo by NYCHA
Money, real estate, and housing. These have been three of the factors that founded this city, and have continued to build it, and drive it, ever since Europeans landed on these shores. The history of housing in this city is rather fascinating, but like housing almost everywhere since the dawn of civilization, it boils down to the rich living really well, the middle classes living decently, and the poor living in various degrees of squalor. Social reformers have long realized that having a decent roof over one’s head is not only necessary for life, but should be a given in a modern civilized society. By the Victorian era, this was an admirable goal, but here in New York City, it rarely came into being.
As more and more poor immigrants came to this country at the end of the 19th century, they joined the already large mass of poor people already here, people crowded into horrific living conditions we really can’t imagine today. Government standards for housing were rather lax, and tenements were usually human warehouses, with inadequate light, ventilation, sanitation or room. Landlords didn’t care as long as the rent was paid, and fortunes were made from this substandard housing. As horrible as conditions were, landlords knew people would still rent; they had to live somewhere. Here in Brooklyn, enlightened reformers and businessmen like Alfred Tredway White and Charles Pratt built model tenements and worker’s housing that was a world away from the norm, but their efforts were anomalies, and while lauded, were not generally repeated. (more…)
Yesterday NYCHA announced which buildings still do not have electricity, heat or hot water restored. So far NYCHA has assessed all of its properties in the city and while it found no significant structural damage anywhere, more than half of the buildings were flooded in the boiler or electrical meter rooms. Still without electricity are 36 buildings and 3,434 units in Brooklyn; 61 buildings and 5,564 units in the borough are still without heat. This includes buildings in Brighton Beach without electricity or power. NYCHA has restored heat and power at the Gowanus Houses. And many of the buildings in the Red Hook Houses still are without both heat and electricity. NYCHA has been acquiring back-up generators and temporary boilers but has not given a timeline when all the power and electricity will be back. “We are working to address these issues as quickly as possible,” the organization announced. Yesterday the New York Daily News reported specifically on the issues and frustrations at the Red Hook Houses, pictured above.
Photo by Ignatzybanjo
The water is down and residents are picking up the pieces in Red Hook, one of the neighborhoods worst hit by Hurricane Sandy. Curbed has a nice photo collection of work happening in the neighborhood, and reports that power was partially restored there yesterday afternoon. Lots of basement pumping along Van Brunt Street and sidewalk debris all over. (Racked surveyed the retail scene, and reports that Ikea is still closed.) Over at the Red Hook Houses, The Village Voice reports, residents have gone three days without any electricity or water. The basement must be pumped out before Con Ed can restore it. At a gathering yesterday afternoon, residents complained about the slow pace of repair work and the conditions in the buildings. According to The Voice, residents have received help from the nonprofit Red Hook Initiative, but have seen little action or help from the city.
A Waterlogged Red Hook Emerges From Sandy’s Floods [Curbed]
In Red Hook Houses, No Power, No Water, and Growing Frustration [Village Voice]
Photo via Curbed
This afternoon tenants and housing advocates from Families United for Racial & Economic Equality (FUREE) held a press conference calling out the NYC Public Housing Authority for delaying home repairs and leaving families with conditions that threaten their health and safety. Following the event, attorneys from South Brooklyn Legal Services filed a group lawsuit against NYCHA to force repairs for tenants of three Brooklyn NYCHA properties. Gathered at the Brooklyn Housing Court, FUREE expressed several demands: that NYCHA stop forcing residents to live in dangerous and unhealthy conditions; they stop misusing capital repair funds for other programs; that Section 3 funding is used to train and hire residents to make repairs; that the Centralized Calling Center is overhauled to prioritize back-logged tickets; and that NYCHA residents are treated with dignity and respect. NYCHA is currently back-logged with thousands of citywide repairs, and residents usually wait months or years to see repairs made. The photos are by Desiree Marshall, click through to see a few more. (more…)
The emergence of a jail-themed jungle gym at the Tompkins Houses in Bedford Stuyvesant has the community in an uproar. Black and Brown News, which ran this image earlier this week, did some homework and found that NYCHA was responsible for ordering it earlier this week. I don’t think they should put that there in a neighborhood where many Blacks and Latinos go to jail,” one resident of the public housing complex told BBN. “My son will ask me, Mommy, if I go in there, will I go to jail. As of yesterday, NYCHA had told BBN it was “looking into” the matter and there had been no response yet from the mayor’s office. Pretty mind-boggling and offensive, no?
Jail Playground’ at NYC Public Housing Property [BBN]GMAP
Photo by Monifa Bandele
This news hit late Friday, but it seemed too huge to ignore today: The Times reports that for the first time in its history, the New York City Housing Authority is planning to demolish a public housing project, Brownsville’s Prospect Plaza Houses. The three towers that make up the complex once housed 1,200 people but they’ve been completely vacant for about 7 years, when NYCHA moved residents out and told them they would eventually be able to return to renovated apartments. Now, however, the agency says that it would actually be more expensive to renovate the buildings than to build new apartments, and it hopes to start construction on new, low-rise replacement buildings in a couple of years. Some former residents, of course, don’t trust NYCHA’s plans: “Several former residents of Prospect Plaza and groups that represent public housing tenants said they did not support the demolition, in part, because it was unclear to them that the authority intended to replace the old units with the same number of new public housing units.”
New York City Plans to Topple Public Housing Towers [NYT] GMAP
Photo from Property Shark.