NYCHA CEO Olatoye to steamroll land leases over tenants' objections

By LOUIS FLORES

New York City Housing Authority CEO Shola Olatoye said city housing officials were preparing to keep rolling-out the a controversial plan to lease open spaces on public housing developments to private real estate interests in an effort construct more affordable housing, according to an article written by the journalist Laura Nahmias and published by POLITICO New York. 

NYCHA CEO Olatoye said the land-lease program, referred to as an infill plan, will move forward, even if it means going over the objections of public housing tenants.

"It’s not a question of if. It will happen," NYCHA CEO Olatoye told Ms. Nahmias.

In spite of numerous requests made by Progress Queens for interviews of NYCHA officials, including of NYCHA CEO Olatoye, no public housing agency officials has agreed to be interviewed by Progress Queens.  Similarly, no de Blasio administration housing officials has agreed to be interviewed for a series of Progress Queens reports about the city's housing policies, including about the radical changes being made to NYCHA.

NYCHA CEO Olatoye's obstinate posturing that threatens to run roughshod over the consensus of NYCHA tenants validates a deep dive by Progress Queens into the de Blasio administration's treatment of land use.

To justify giving private real estate interests an entry to lease city real property for the construction of new apartment buildings, NYCHA CEO Olatoye described the proposed sites for leasing as "strewn with trash" and fenced off.  However, during a visit Monday afternoon to a parking lot at the Mill Brook Houses, an infill plan site of proposed development, a reporter noted that the parking lot was not strewn with trash.  The parking lot was indeed gated for security, not to discourage use.  Indeed, during the inspection, there were 22 vehicles amongst the 82 spaces in the parking lot.

A gated parking lot at the Mill Brook Houses in Mott Haven, The Bronx, as seen on Monday, August 17, 2015.  New York City Housing Authority CEO Shola Olatoye has said that spaces identified for its controversial infill plan to lease open lots on NYCHA properties to private real estate developers can be rationalised, because the proposed sites are "strewn with trash" and not in use.  However, the condition of the Mill Brook Houses parking lot was relatively well kept, except for discards that are typically wind-blown from city sidewalks.  Source :  Louis Flores/Progress Queens

A gated parking lot at the Mill Brook Houses in Mott Haven, The Bronx, as seen on Monday, August 17, 2015.  New York City Housing Authority CEO Shola Olatoye has said that spaces identified for its controversial infill plan to lease open lots on NYCHA properties to private real estate developers can be rationalised, because the proposed sites are "strewn with trash" and not in use.  However, the condition of the Mill Brook Houses parking lot was relatively well kept, except for discards that are typically wind-blown from city sidewalks.  Source :  Louis Flores/Progress Queens

In the most recent Progress Queens report on the subject of the impact of the infill plan on the Mill Brook Houses in Mott Haven, The Bronx, a NYCHA tenant, Jeanne Bell said cynically of of the real estate market pressures creeping into the actions of NYCHA officials, "They want to do what they want to do."

After NYCHA first announced the beginnings of its privatization plan, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) said during a press conference that he was not familiar with the sale of a portfolio of project-based, Section 8 buildings, according to a report written by the reporter Dana Rubinstein and published by POLITICO New York.  However, critics of NYCHA have asserted that Mayor de Blasio is involved in all major decision-making, yet hides behind his officials.

"Far too often, the mayor uses people like Olatoye as fronts and then undermines them by micromanaging matters from City Hall," co-wrote the Rev. David Brawley and the Rev. Francis Skelly in an editorial published by The New York Daily News.

To restore credibility and accountability at NYCHA in the face of growing complaints about deteriorating conditions at NYCHA apartments, tenants and officials with the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, a coalition of groups to which both Rev. Brawley and Rev. Skelly belong, have called on NYCHA CEO Olatoye to step down.