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Press Release: Public Housing Residents from Across New York State Rally to Save Public Housing and Stop Thousands of Evictions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Press Release: Public Housing Residents from Across New York State Rally to Save Public Housing and Stop Thousands of Evictions


Contact: Zoë Johnson, Communications Manager, Community Voices Heard, zoe@cvhaction.org, 646-407-5557


Photos available here

Rally recording here


MARCH 5, 2024 (ALBANY, NY) – Public housing residents from across the state gathered at the State Capitol today to deliver a clear message: New York State must step up to save public housing and keep families from being evicted.


The rallying groups included: Citizen Action of New York, Community Voices Heard, Community Service Society, Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition, Legal Aid Society, Met Council on Housing, New York Communities for Change, United Tenants of Albany, and We Are Revolutionary.


They called on New York State to focus on preserving existing affordable public housing and preventing homelessness and displacement.


Their budget demands include:


  1. Commit $4.5 billion for public housing capital repairs to preserve 40,000 public housing units.

  2. $3.55 billion for NYCHA preserves 15,000 units of affordable housing for NYC.

  3. $950 million for public housing in the rest of the State preserves 10,000 units of affordable housing and would fix all of the backlogged repairs.

  4. Prevent evictions of thousands of families with $500 million in rent arrears for public housing residents across New York State.

  5. $335 million for NYCHA families struggling to make ends meet as the cost of everyday goods continues to rise.

  6. $165 million for public housing in the rest of New York State.


Public housing is one of the largest sources of affordable housing in New York State. There are 161,400 units of public housing in New York City and 20,568 units across the rest of New York State. 


Yet, chronic underfunding has resulted in public housing being demolished or sold off. New York State Public Housing Authorities have consistent shortfalls of more than $40 million in federal funding for day-to-day operations. The state has lost 10,374 units of permanently affordable public housing. Much of what remains is in such poor condition that it is at risk of being lost. Public housing residents across the state suffer from frequent heat and hot water outages, mold, and apartments that are falling apart.


“I’ve lived in public housing for 33 years. I’ve also been the President of my Resident Association for two terms. The development where I live, the Polo Grounds, was constructed in 1968. In 56 years, the piping has never been updated. Just band-aid fixes,” said CVH New York City Member Leader Barbara Williams. “And while all of this is going on, 800 people in Polo Grounds are likely to be evicted for rent arrears because public housing residents were not covered by pandemic aid. But this isn't just an issue in the Polo Grounds or in NYCHA. Lack of repairs and evictions are a problem statewide. CVH members across the state in public housing face the same issues. We are here today because we depend on the State to protect us and provide us with healthy homes.” 


“I have been in Newburgh public housing for 20 years as both an employee and a tenant,” said CVH Newburgh member Maxwell Rayford. "For decades, we have been promised repairs, but haven’t seen much done – cabinets are falling apart, floors are old and torn up. Roaches, mice, and bedbugs are all over our building. We are tired of being forced to live in these conditions. That’s why we're here demanding our State leaders step up and provide $4.5 billion for capital repairs and $500 million for back rent for public housing all across New York State. Public housing residents deserve to live in safe and comfortable housing, just like everyone else in New York.”


"Today, Community Voices Heard members and our partners joined together to tell the State: public housing residents deserve better,” said Community Voices Heard Executive Director Juanita O. Lewis. "As the largest Black-led organizing institution in New York State, we have witnessed the continuous disinvestment from public housing over the last three decades. We also know that public housing is a critical part of the solution to New York’s ever-growing housing crisis. We call on our elected leaders to meaningfully invest in public housing this legislative session."


"Decades of financial disinvestment at every level of government has hastened the deterioration of public housing across New York," said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Housing. "Far too many public housing residents throughout the state are subjected to chronic leaks, unabated mold, inoperative elevators, rat and roach infestations, lead exposure and other unsafe conditions. As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Housing, I secured $391 million in last year's budget to protect NYCHA and other public housing authorities from financial insolvency. Prioritizing the needs of public housing residents is one of the most important and critical pieces in solving New York's housing crisis, and I will continue to expand on last year's financial commitment by fighting for a much-needed infusion of capital funding this budget season."


“Public Housing is the only true source of affordable housing that we currently have in our State – it must be protected, preserved and expanded in perpetuity!” said Senator Cordell Cleare. “The time has come for the State to step up and secure the future of Public Housing as well as provide our residents with the safety, dignity and quality of life they deserve from the place they call home.”


“The community of Brownsville, where I was born and raised, has long had among the highest concentrations of public housing in the entire country,” said Assemblywoman Latrice Walker. “I grew up in public housing. Many people in my district know the persistence of poverty, the pain of increasing housing costs and the scarcity of affordable housing. New York State has an obligation to respond to the housing crisis by increasing housing stock, preserving and repairing existing public housing, and boosting tenant protections along the way. I will be working with the Assembly Majority to secure funding to build and maintain affordable housing, deliver tax breaks for developers and other legislative remedies – anything to give New Yorkers secure places to call home.”


"Access to housing is fundamental to ensure a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness enshrined in the constitution of the United States. Without stable housing, access to stable transportation, work, and education are all threatened as are fundamental needs like nutritious foods and a stable social community,” said Assemblymember Dr. Anna R. Kelles. “Therefore, stable housing is foundational to health and mental health. Although we need more affordable housing construction in New York, it will take many years to build and the affordable housing crisis needs to be addressed today. Only intentional interventions right now will help reduce homelessness and the housing affordability crisis many New Yorkers face. Good Cause and the Housing Access Voucher Programs will directly address the affordable housing needs of New Yorkers today and must be included in this year’s budget.”


“New York’s public housing residents deserve to live in safe, well-maintained buildings,” said Assembly Member Harvey Epstein. “We must focus on preserving existing affordable public housing and preventing homelessness and displacement. We must also fight against the privatization of public housing. This requires an investment in capital repairs and rent arrears to ensure that folks within public housing have the conditions and resources they need in an increasingly affordable housing landscape.”


“Last year, I was proud to lead an effort to include $391 million in New York’s state budget to help public housing residents pay rental arrears they owed from the pandemic,” said Assemblymember Grace Lee. “This money was a lifeline for thousands of families across the state, but it has not eliminated the severe funding gap that has left our public housing stock in disrepair nor the mounting rental arrears that threaten to put families on the street. I stand with Community Voices Heard in calling for a budget that strengthens our investments in public housing to keep the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers living in public housing in their homes.”  


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Community Voices Heard (CVH) is a member-led, multi-racial organization principally comprised of women of color and low-income families in New York State. CVH tackles tough issues and builds power to secure racial, social, and economic justice for all New Yorkers. Through grassroots organizing, leadership development, policy changes, and creating new models of direct democracy, CVH is creating a truly equitable New York State.

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