FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Michael Higgins Jr.
(917) 704 – 6994
New York, NY – August 21, 2018 – Public housing tenant leaders and advocates of the Turning the Tide (T3) collaborative, Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice (GNCJ) and New York Lawyers of the Public Interest (NYLPI) will host a press conference in front of the Attorney General’s New York Southern District office before submitting testimony in anticipation of hearings against the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) for cases United States of America v. NYCHA and Baez v. NYCHA. Residents and allies together are demanding accountability from the NYCHA after years of internal corruption and incompetence as well as intimidation of residents and advocates seeking basic services necessary to maintain the habitability for the over 500,000 New Yorkers currently living in the authority’s approximately 180,000 apartments. On June 11, 2018, news broke of the complaint the federal government had drafted in a lawsuit, United States of America v. NYCHA, as the conclusion of a years long investigation on a number of violations committed by the authority which both broke HUD regulations and placed thousands of public housing residents into dangerous conditions within their homes. These violations include but are not limited to: false reports of inspections for lead paint in apartments, inadequate mold remediation, lack of heat and hot water during the annual heating season and closed tickets for work undone.
The current terms of the Baez v. NYCHA case first filed on behalf of NYCHA residents suffering from mold in their apartments by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) were settled in 2014 and reopened for lack of compliance in 2015 requires repairs for mold to be done in 15 days with a follow-up inspection within 60 days. Despite this, the housing authority had still not adhered to the agreement and this failure was part of the basis for the most recent lawsuit against them by the federal government. United States of America v. NYCHA petitioned by the Attorney General of the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman has led to a consent decree with the City of New York with stipulations for payments from the city to make capital repairs totaling $2 billion until 2027. NYCHA is also responsible to make its portfolio lead paint and mold free with the creation of a compliance department, environmental health and safety department and quality assurance unit to assist in this endeavor. Recent estimates from the housing authority’s Project Needs Assessment calculate capital repair needs at $25 billion with projections of $32 billion within the next 5 years.
“Residents of NYCHA make up a large portion of the city’s workforce and 1 in 14 New Yorkers live in NYCHA. For too long, the authority has been mired in an abyss of unspeakable and criminal neglect. The Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice and Turning The Tide collaborative are determined to fully pursue this right by submitting comments by testifying on September 26, 2018. Our comments are based on our commitment to respect, protect and connect public housing and its residents in Red Hook and Gowanus to ensure they can shape and benefit from healthy indoor and outdoor environments and alleviate the environmental injustices they have endured for decades.”
- Karen Blondel, GNCJ
“Red Hook Initiative fully supports resident input and decision making on the Baez and U.S Attorney settlements. The mold crisis in Red Hook has revealed the need for accountability, transparency, and investment in public housing. We recognize ongoing non-compliance in the Baez settlement and support demands for increased oversight of NYCHA in dealing with pressing public health related repairs.“
- Jill Eisenhard, RHI
“For far too long, NYCHA tenants have lived with deplorable and hazardous conditions and the authority ignored their voices and needs. Now the T3 coalition is making sure voices are heard to ensure the DOJ and Baez settlements make real, necessary change to improve tenants’ lives.”
- Rachel Spector, NYLPI
Turning the Tide is a collaboration of the Red Hook Initiative, Families United for Racial and Economic Equality, and the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation, in partnership with New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). Its goal is to amplify the voices of low-income South Brooklyn public housing residents in implementation and policy decisions about environmental cleanup and climate adaptation.
The Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice (GNCJ) formed out of an understanding that City rezoning processes generally, and in our community specifically, privileged voices and real estate interests hold disproportionate power. The Coalition represents a concerted effort by local residents and stakeholders to promote social, economic, and environmental justice as the primary framework under which any rezoning, land use changes and/or public investments occur in Gowanus.
New York Lawyers of the Public Interest (NYLPI) is a legal nonprofit whose mission is to advance equality and civil rights, with a focus on health justice, disability rights and environmental justice through the power of community lawyering and partnerships with the private bar.