We are the co-chairpersons of Castleton Park, a state and federally subsidized Mitchell-Lama housing development in Staten Island. Over the years, thousands of tenants have lived in our development and created communities, all because of the programs that kept our housing affordable. Our tenant association has fought back against threats from our own landlord, Larry Gluck of Stellar Management, a notorious predatory private equity developer who bought our development with the sole purpose of privatizing our homes and displacing the tenants. He wasn’t able to do it because we organized successfully and fought back, and that is why we continue to have a thriving community today.
Yet today, tenants like me are finding themselves under attack again. This time the threat is coming from Washington. President Trump has proposed a $7.4 billion budget cut to U.S. Department of Housing Development, HUD. This means New York will bear the brunt of this attack because so many neighborhoods across the city rely on HUD funding for their survival. We depend on HUD funding to subsidize our rent and ensure our community’s stability. Millions of other New Yorkers rely on HUD for basic necessities, too. Public housing residents rely on HUD for critical funding to continue to operate housing developments that have been falling into disrepair. Seniors rely on the rental assistance program Section 202 to continue to have safe and habitable developments to live in. For tenants who receive enhanced vouchers (because their Mitchell-Lama or project-based Section 8 development left their program), those enhanced vouchers mean the difference between them being displaced and being able to stay in their home.
New York City’s housing agency, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), is mostly funded through HUD. All tenants across New York City rely on calling 311 to get the HPD Code Enforcement program to inspect and improve the conditions in their apartments. With Trump’s proposed budget cuts, those critical programs will be virtually eliminated for vulnerable New Yorkers. Trump’s budget cuts are a homelessness plan not a housing plan, and it comes at a time when New York City has already seen an exploding homelessness crisis.
On July 6th, we rallied with our tenants and activists across Staten Island at Borough Hall to call on our Congressional Representative, Dan Donovan, to act and organize against Trump’s budget cuts. And on July 12th we took our fight to Washington DC, and joined the first ever tenant march with over 1,000 people from across the nation. In District 11, HUD provides nearly $200 million annually to help his constituents, like us, be able to stay in our homes and access needed services. The area Donovan represents relies on more HUD funding than any other Republican district in New York. We are asking him to show leadership, challenge Trump’s budget cuts and call for full funding for HUD.
We saw our development threatened by a predatory equity landlord. Trump’s track record has been to work closely with private equity firms to design his housing policy, and we have seen how predatory equity has targeted and decimated affordable housing. We are a part of the resistance against predatory equity landlords, and we are calling on the Trump administration and all elected federal representatives to not privatize and hand over the keys to the same landlords who caused our affordability crisis in the first place.
This week we are also joining the national housing week of action to bring more attention to the affordable housing crisis nationwide.
We are calling on Trump and Donovan to fully fund HUD and stop handing our housing over to private equity. This is a critical moment for all of our communities and we need Congress to vote against these proposed disastrous budget cuts.
Judy Montanez and Sharon Valentin are Co-Chairpersons of Castleton Park, a state and federally subsidized Mitchell-Lama housing development.