By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Residents of the New York City Housing Authority development at 344 East 28th Street are demanding transparency after the city agency announced that a new program would be implemented for tenants in the building to privatize ownership.
NYCHA hosted a meeting at Bellevue Hospital last week to give tenants information about the Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT) Unfunded Units program but tenants said prior to the meeting that they weren’t given any information about the program previously or been allowed to give any input about whether or not they want to join.
The program is part of a push by NYCHA to increase revenue for repairs in developments throughout the city that have long been neglected. The plan involves shifting management of NYCHA complexes to private developers through PACT as well as the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD).
A flyer distributed to residents claims that the program will provide funding for necessary repairs, upgrades and renovations, ensure affordability and protect tenant rights.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer expressed concerns about the plan during a hearing of the NYCHA board, West Side Rag reported earlier this month, with Brewer arguing that the authority has not communicated effectively with residents since many have found out about the programs through housing advocacy groups and elected officials.
Brewer also encouraged NYCHA to codify language for permanent affordability into Section 18, a rental housing assistance program that has fewer protections than Section 8.
Melanie Aucello, vice president of the 344 East 28th Street NYCHA Resident Association, reiterated Brewer’s point, noting that many residents in her building only found out about the plans through local politicians.
Aaron Humphrey, a longtime resident of 344 East 28th Street and member of Community Board 6, also felt like the process had been rushed.
“Residents here feel as if they’ve been left in the dark, not being part of the decision making process and rushed through the procedures as if it’s a done deal and NYCHA’s just merrily going through a formality,” Humphrey said prior to the meeting.
Humphrey previously co-authored a resolution for the community board encouraging more transparency and communication from NYCHA because the housing authority was leasing land to private developers to generate revenue for backlogged repairs.
NYCHA did not respond to a request for comment on the plan.
Correction: A previous version of this article referred to the aforementioned address as being part of the Straus Houses complex. It is a separate development.