The city is finally redeveloping the long-vacant Prospect Plaza housing project in Ocean Hill, a massive ghost town where it has been promising to tear down the existing buildings and build new ones for 14 years. In 2000, NYCHA relocated all 1,500 tenants from the 368-unit public housing development, which consisted of four buildings spread across a 4.53-acre complex. However, NYCHA filed new building applications last week for 1765 Prospect Place, detailing plans for a four-story, 32-unit residential building with 107,551 square feet of space. It also filed demolition applications in August for two of the Prospect Plaza high rises.
The housing agency had originally planned to renovate Prospect Plaza with $21,000,000 it received from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1999. But as delays piled up and years passed, the 40-year-old buildings have become too dilapidated and expensive to save. The new plan is to raze all four of the towers and build 360 units, including 80 public housing apartments and 280 affordable housing units, according to a presentation given to Community Board 16 in September.
The affordable housing units will target tenants with up to 60 percent of the city’s median income, which is still more than double what the average public housing tenant makes, as The New York Daily News points out. There will also be ground-floor retail that will likely become a supermarket and 10,000 square feet of community space. GMAP
The owner or this building at 60 Clarkson Avenue in Flatbush is doing his best to get rid of his paying tenants. No, the building is not going to be converted to condos or torn down for new development. However, this scheme may be just as lucrative–housing homeless families for the city. WNYC reported yesterday that the landlord is evicting paying tenants and leaving the building in a terrible state of neglect. According to the report, the building has 215 housing code violations. The majority of tenants have left the building. According to WNYC, inside the apartment of one of a dozen or so renters who has refused to leave, “The sticky traps in the kitchen…are covered in dead roaches. The insects even make their way into her freezer. The whole building is dirty and in need of repair. The elevators smell like urine, and the trash rooms in the hall overflow with garbage.” The tenant pays $700 a month. The city will pay about $3,000 a month (in SROs it will pay $3,000 per room) though a portion of that fee goes to cover the cost of counseling and security. The city is under a court order to provide housing to anyone seeking help and the number of those in the shelter system has grown dramatically since 2011 when the state and city ended funding for programs to help homeless people find permanent housing. The same skewed math is at the heart of the controversial effort to turn the ten-unit building at 165 West 9th Street in Carroll Gardens into a homeless shelter for 170 men. The city is now leasing 2,500 apartments from landlords at these rates, an increase of 66 percent since 2011.
Read Part 2 of this story.
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.
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.
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