WEEK IN REVIEW : WBAI interview about NYCHA ; Bronx Beep opposes NYCHA infill plan

By LOUIS FLORES

On Thursday, August 20, Louis Flores, the publisher of Progress Queens, was interviewed by Michael G. Haskins, host of the Morning Show on WBAI 99.5 FM

The subject of the interview was conditions at the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA.  The interview has been posted to YouTube and can be viewed here :  

Bronx Beep Ruben Diaz, Jr., opposes NYCHA's controversial infill plan of land-leases

In a surprise move, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. (D-The Bronx), has announced his opposition to NYCHA CEO Shola Olatoye's controversial infill plan as it applies to green spaces.  The infill plan calls for the identification of open spaces, such as parking lots, green spaces, and playgrounds, on NYCHA public housing developments for proposed land-leases to construct non-NYCHA affordable housing through a public-private partnership.  

Borough President Diaz issued a press statement, admonishing NYCHA CEO Olatoye for her plans, saying, in part, "The tenants of NYCHA should not be treated like second-class citizens,” adding that, "Despite the assertions of NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye, these green spaces play a critical role in the everyday life of building tenants, especially children, and should be preserved. NYCHA’s housing stock is already poorly maintained. Taking away light, air and green space from these tenants—taking away safe spaces where children play—would be an outrage," and concluding, in part, by saying, "I understand the need to build more affordable housing.  But this development should not be at the expense of the quality of life of NYCHA tenants."

The infill plan, central to the de Blasio administration's Next Generation refunding plan for NYCHA, proposes to identify sufficient undeveloped lots in NYCHA's existing portfolio of public housing developments to construct 17,000 new apartment units across 50 to 60 public housing developments over the coming decade.  Not only will construction of this size seize public assets for private profit and lead to the loss of irreplaceable green spaces, but the construction will disrupt the lives of many NYCHA tenants for years to come.

According to concerns raised by a series of reports published by Progress Queens, the de Blasio administration has not yet confirmed whether it plans to once again sidestep the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP process, in awarding the land leases for its infill plan.  According to provisions in the request for proposal for the first three proposed apartment buildings, the terms of the arrangement are not definitively subject to ULURP, since the conditions in the request for proposal were provided "if applicable."

As reported by Progress Queens, when the de Blasio administration sold in December 2014 a portfolio of project-based, Section 8 buildings to a consortium that included real estate developers with close ties to the de Blasio administration, the disposition of city real property in that transaction was not subjected to the ULURP process.  Raising further issues, according to findings published by Progress Queens, a cash-strapped NYCHA may have been paying to make repairs to some of the buildings sold in that transaction, contradicting statements made by NYCHA CEO Olatoye that the buildings were being sold, because NYCHA could not longer afford to pay for their upkeep.