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Housing



Metro IAF NY Wins Federal Judicial Oversight to Ensure Real Cleanup of Mold by NYCHA

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- DEC 16

The City Housing Authority is about to come under judicial oversight to erase one of its worst plagues — creeping mold in aging apartments, the Daily News has learned. The city signed off on a consent decree Monday that will give a federal judge the ability to ensure the New York City Housing Authority finally eradicates the longstanding and dangerous condition.

The federal court intervention is seen as a game-changer in the battle to reform NYCHA’s inability to tackle an issue that affects hundreds of tenants citywide.The residents have waited in vain, sometimes for years, for NYCHA to answer requests to clean up toxic mold. Often the work was useless, with the agency painting over the mold without fixing the leak that caused it. Now, with the power of a federal court behind them, tenants and their attorneys can for the first time go directly to a judge to impose significant financial penalties on NYCHA if it doesn’t get the job done right.

Over the past year, the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, a civic group, has threatened to file suit charging the city has for years violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by housing hundreds of tenants with asthma in mold-infested units. The Monday settlement will allow a Manhattan federal judge to monitor NYCHA’s promised improvements over the next three years. 

Most important for tenants, the agreement makes mold abatement NYCHA’s top priority, with the agency committing to remedy all mold conditions — including the underlying leaky pipes — within 15 days of receiving a complaint. NYCHA must then follow up within 60 days to make sure the work was done correctly and to ensure mold and moisture “have been eliminated entirely.”

“This agreement is long in coming,” declared tenant Maribel Baez, whose asthma has been aggravated for years by mold in her Marlboro Houses apartment in Brooklyn. “My hope is that (with) Metro IAF, our lawyers and a federal court all keeping NYCHA and the city accountable, conditions for me and my fellow tenants will begin to improve.”

 



EBC and NYCHA Leaders Take Action

More than 450 NYCHA tenants and leaders gathered at Our Lady of Mercy last night to say, as Nancy Baptiste from St. Paul put it, "Enough!"  The room was electric with anger and energy.   

Father Mason began by putting our fight to clean up NYCHA in the context of a larger 35-year struggle to rebuild our neighborhoods.  We've made great progress but we are not finished yet.  

Leader after leader testified about moldy ceilings, huge leaky holes, giant water bugs, and the damage these cause to their health.  "My apartment is making me sick," said Tawana Myers, who is recovering from two open-heart surgeries.  "Let me breathe.  Get some people to my apartment and my neighbors' apartments and start making the repairs."

Michell Hernandez, a young leader from Mercy, held up her family's nebulizer machine that she, her father and mother must use to breathe at night because the mold is so thick in their apartment.  She implored NYCHA to stop using paint to treat their mold.  "If my apartment were a patient at a hospital run by the New York City Housing Authority, it would be dead. Dead."  Get in there, she added, and find the source of the leak and treat it properly.

Reverend Bachus recalled with anger at witnessing a member of Mt. Ollie have an asthma attack at church.  "You're health should not be determined by the address that you are from.  But it is for many people who live in NYCHA."

You could feel the tension as Carlos Laboy-Diaz approached the microphone. Laboy-Diaz is NYCHA's VP for Operations and supervises the borough directors, including Brooklyn's Philip Calandrillo.  Reverend Brawley and Nyginer Brewer laid it out to Laboy-Diaz clearly:  this is a test and it's pass or fail.  To pass, you've got to commit to make the more than 400 repairs that we have spent weeks documenting and investigating, and too many years living.  

Laboy-Diaz quickly withdrew into NYCHA babble about how much progress they've made over the last year. Reverend Brawley cut him off, "You're not answering our question.  You've failed the first test.  Let's start over."  The back and forth continued for almost 10 minutes until finally Laboy-Diaz begrudgingly agreed to stop the leaks, repairs the walls, paint the living rooms and send the exterminators to almost 150 apartments.  

Laboy-Diaz has made commitments like this before to our allies at South Bronx Churches and then failed to deliver.  It's up to us to make him and Calandrillo follow through.  Next Monday, we'll lead a joint tour of a handful of these apartments so they can see first hand what tenants are living with.

Both teams -- the one up front and the larger one throughout the church -- did an excellent job together.  We had a good mix of new and veteran leaders and churches, and great anger and energy.  Congratulations to everyone who has spent the last 6 months meeting other church and school members; organizing house meetings and listening sessions; and finding scores of talented leaders willing to do the work to continue the rebuilding.




VOICE victories in Foreclosure and Affordable Housing

Virginians Organizing for interfaith Community Engagement’s Bank & Foreclosure Accountability Campaign secured $30 million in commitments for VOICE's Prince William Restoration Fund from Bank of America, General Electric, and VAHousing Development Authority (VHDA). The fund will support a pilot that would (1) rehab 100 abandoned / blighted properties in neighborhoods devastated by foreclosure for affordable homeownership & rental housing, and (2) allow for the development of 1,500 units of rental housing over the next 15 years in Northern Virginia for families. VOICE announced the commitments at 500+person action in Woodbridge, VA with Senator Mark Warner and representatives from Bank ofAmerica, General Electric,and VHDA. When JPMorgan refused to participate in the restoration fund, VOICE organized a direct action at their DC Private Banking Offices with 60 leaders. We’ll be focused like a laser on JPMorgan in 2014. VOICE's pioneering  work has garnered significant national media coverage by USA Today, CNN, and the Washington Post.

VOICE organized and helped secure a zoning variance for 77 new affordable housing units being created on land owned by ArlingtonPartnership for Affordable Housing (APAH). Off of this successful effort VOICE launched an Arlington Affordable Housing Campaign at an action with 550 leaders to get Arlington County to build 1,500 new affordable rental units for families making less than $50,000/year on public and non-profit owned land in the next 3-5 years.

VOICE organized a 250-person One Reston Walk where VOICE leaders and Crescent Apartments tenants got Board of Supervisors Chairperson Bulova and Supervisor Hudgins to support tenants with their goal of returning to the redeveloped complex. In Fairfax City, VOICE organized with Layton Hall tenants to successfully get the city council to require a developer to provide more generous relocation assistance to 110 tenants and include 5% affordable units in the redeveloped complex. This is the first time Fairfax City has imposed affordable housing requirements on developers.



NYC Metro IAF affiliates win commitment for $10 million in public housing security upgrades

After an extensive campaign documenting safety and health hazards in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments, Metro IAF NYC affiliates successfully pushed Mayor Bloomberg and the director of the housing authority to install security cameras in 85 of the most dangerous housing developments, as well as other security upgrades representing a $10 million investment.



BUILD organizes to rebuild East Baltimore

With TRF Development Partners, BUILD organizes to rebuild East Baltimore. In the worst housing market since the Great Depression, BUILD continues to rebuild the Oliver Community located in East Baltimore. 40 homes have been constructed, fully occupied. 20 are under construction. 




EBC build new neighborhoods and schools in East Brooklyn.

In the Spring Nehemiah Development, EBC leaders will build 1525 affordable homes and develop two new small quality schools.




Lake County United wins 70 affordable senior homes north of Chicago

Lake County United has supported Mercy Housing Lakefront’s proposal for 70 units of affordable senior housing in Grayslake.  Lake County United was pivotal in the building’s original planning with our active community leadership inspiring Mercy to come to Lake County and to include a 25% set aside of units for seniors with special needs in the project.  We then helped Mercy secure rental subsidies from the Lake County Housing Authority, tax credit financing from the Illinois Housing Development Authority, worked closely with them to develop local support for the project from Grayslake residents and clergy in order to secure the final zoning approval for the project from the Grayslake Zoning Board of Appeals and Village Board.  Vocal “Not In My Back Yard” opposition slowed the process down, but after a final approval vote in early July, Mercy now expects to break ground in early October 2011.



AIM (Montgomery County, MD) celebrates $224 million in Affordable Housing Victories.

 

Since 2003, AIM has secured $224 million in county investment in affordable housing.   The affordable housing funds have been used to build or refurbish over 5,000 units of for sale, senior, rental and disability housing throughout the county.  10% of the funds are allocated for homelessness prevention programs.  

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BUILD develops 69 affordable artist lofts in downtown Baltimore.

 

With TRF Development Partners, BUILD helps develop City Arts Building, 69 affordable artists lofts:

http://housingbaltimoreartists.wordpress.com/city-arts/




NYC region affiliates celebrate 30 years of victories

In February, 2011, more than 1300 people from East Brooklyn Congregations, South Bronx Churches, Manhattan Together, Empowered Queens United in Action and Leadership, Long Island Associations, Congregations and Neighborhoods, and New Jersey Together gathered to celebrate our thirty years of accomplishments, including:

  • The construction of more than 4000 Nehemiah affordable homes in Eastern Brooklyn and the South Bronx
  • $500 million in environmental clean up in New Jersey
  • The founding of four new public high schools, two charter schools and the construction of the $220 million Mott Haven campus in Eastern Brooklyn, Queens and the South Bronx
  • $60 million in parks restoration in lower Manhattan

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WIN builds nearly 400 units of affordable housing in DC.

 

WIN built Dupont Commons, a 147-unit for-purchase, affordable housing development for residents with incomes between $15,000 – $60,000, and partnered with Catholic Charities to create the Summit at St. Martin’s Apartments, a 178-unit affordable apartment complex.  WIN is in the final stages of construction for Eden Place, a 63-unit Nehemiah affordable housing development.  DC is one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation, and these projects stabilize the neighborhood for long-time residents.




Washington Interfaith Network creates housing for over 1,100 homeless individuals and families.

 

WIN leaders pressed the Mayor and City Council to develop and fund a plan to create 2,500 units of permanent supportive housing to move the city’s most chronically and vulnerable homeless from the streets or shelter into homes with supportive services.  To date, over 1,100 individuals and families have been housed. 


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