There are people in the world who have despised the very notion of public housing since its inception and have cheered its disappearance from many cities. But in New York City, where public housing is a larger presence and has a more successful record than elsewhere, there is fairly broad consensus that public housing is a good thing that should be preserved and improved.
The notion of developing new apartments on NYCHA land, however, has divided allies in the fight to save public housing in New York.
That polite but passionate disagreement was on display Tuesday on BK Live, the daily live noon newscast by BRIC-TV. Community Service Society of New York senior housing policy analyst Victor Bach, Van Dyke I Houses tenant association president Lisa Kenner and Wyckoff Gardens resident Bev Corbin, a member of Families United for Racial and Economic Equality, joined me to discuss the issue.
(The segment includes a video report by Steve de Seve that captures the skepticism over some call the “infill” plan, but NYCHA refers to as “land-lease.”)
Later Tuesday, the City Council’s committee on public housing held a hearing on the land-lease plan at Holmes Towers.
Like Wyckoff Gardens, it has been targeted for development of new housing of which 50 percent of units are income-targeted and 50 percent are market-rate. (Van Dyke, Ingersoll and Mill Brook Houses are slated to get new housing that is 100 percent “affordable.”) The purpose of the initiative is both to provide land for the mayor’s housing plan and to generate revenue to fill the housing authority’s budget gap.
Before that hearing, committee chairman Ritchie Torres released a letter he’d sent to NYCHA chair Shola Olatoye faulting the authority for not being more transparent about the details of the land-lease plan.
Olatoye responded with a letter of her own; both are below. NYCHA said in a statment: “We’ve held more meetings about NextGen Neighborhoods than any other program in NYCHA’s history. It’s unfortunate the months of open and transparent communications, including those with the Council Member, have been completely disregarded. We need solutions, not more politics as usual.”