The city’s public-housing stock is falling apart, and there are scant funds for repairs. So why are local politicians trying to block a plan to pump in new money?
That’s right: City Councilman Ben Kallos, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (Democrats, all) are trying to slow a plan to raise cash at the New York City Housing Authority’s Holmes Towers on the Upper East Side.
If they succeed, it could spell doom for the city’s broader vision to save NYCHA housing.
Mayor de Blasio rolled out that broader plan in 2015, picking up on ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s idea to generate NYCHA revenue by leasing the agency’s underused land to private developers. The builders, in turn, would put up both market-rate and subsidized housing and fork over as much as $600 million over 10 years for NYCHA.
Last month, the city announced the first of these projects: a 340-unit building at the Holmes Towers on 92nd Street, just east of First Avenue. The developer, Hal Fetner, would sink an estimated $200 million into the deal, with $25 million going to the city up front.
Plus more goodies: Half the units would go to low- and middle-income tenants and half the new jobs to NYCHA residents. Plans also call for a new 14,500-square-foot playground and an 18,000-square-foot rec and community center.
But Kallos, Brewer and Maloney are fighting it as not good enough.
Maloney wants all new apartments to be subsidized, not just half. Kallos claims it’ll be too hard for NYCHA residents to afford even the subsidized units. Brewer says “Manhattan should not be the cash cow for NYCHA.”Hello? Does Brewer know of some other money-generating bovine — or would she rather have NYCHA tenants continue to suffer in dilapidated housing?
Likewise, if Fetner has to subsidize every apartment, as Maloney suggests, he’d lose on the deal. So why expect him to go through with it?
Remember, the main goal here is to raise cash for NYCHA repairs, not to relocate residents into fancy new digs with even greater subsidies than they get now.
The pols have other gripes: “I don’t think the NYCHA residents should be trapped in the shadows of the wealthy,” huffs Kallos.
Now it’s hurtful to live near people better off than you?
They also complain about the loss of an existing playground, even though the new one and rec center will more than make up for it.
OK, pols love to pander to squeaky wheels and, especially in progressive New York, try to squeeze as much as possible from “deep pockets.” But this time they’re doing it at the expense of NYCHA tenants now stuck in those rotting apartments.
If they kill the Holmes project, what are the chances de Blasio can pull off more such deals to raise the cash needed to save NYCHA?
The pols should think about that when they go home to their own fancy digs.