Demand Greg Russ’s Resignation to Keep Public Housing Public!

Demand Greg Russ’s Resignation to Keep Public Housing Public!

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Save Section 9 started this petition to Mayor of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and

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New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) CEO Greg Russ’s plan known as Blueprint for Change: Transition Plan aims to privatize scores of public housing residences, which will permanently eliminate thousands of affordable housing units in NYC and put 100,000s of working class BIPOC at risk of homelessness. Greg Russ’s track record of dismantling public housing began in Detroit in 1995 and a wake of destruction followed him from there to Chicago, to Cambridge, and to Minneapolis. And now, as the head of the NYCHA he plans to be even more destructive as NYCHA is the largest public housing authority in the country by a large margin.

We the undersigned stand in opposition to the Blueprint and demand that our homes and our rights as tenants remain regulated under Section 9 and that public funding be allocated immediately. We reject all versions of the creation of the “public” trust, and any mechanisms that transfer our homes to Section 8.

Further, we demand that Greg Russ be removed from his role as NYCHA’s Chair and CEO and be replaced by someone who respects public housing as an institution, is willing to fight for public funding options, and offers tenants’ a genuine seat at the table and in decisions about their homes, communities, and futures.

Below we outline our concerns in more detail

Demand 1: Kill the Bill

The Blueprint for Change was introduced in July 2020, just following the first wave of a pandemic that was twice as fatal for NYCHA residents as the city overall. Not only was this an inhumane time to approach residents with such a seismic decision about their futures, but most explanations of the plans were virtual, which created barriers to participation. At the State hearing in December 2020, Russ admitted that after 6 months of outreach, he had only engaged 1,000 residents - or less than 1%. Most residents, even those that have attended the town halls, do not understand what the Blueprint is or what it means for their futures. 

For those of us that have studied the legislation and spoken with legal advocates and academics. We understand that the Blueprint permanently transfers 110,000 public housing units - all that would not be privatized under RAD/PACT - to Section 8 and to the Trust. We understand that the repair and management responsibilities of the properties are then contracted back to NYCHA, who has been a negligent landlord, while removing the federal protections and oversight provided by the federal monitor and the Lead and Mold Ombudsperson. We understand that the Trust will collateralize these properties - our homes - in debt agreements with wealthy investors who are interested in profit and debt repayment, not housing provision. We understand that despite what the materials being sent to tenants claim, under the Blueprint tenants would lose the federally-enforceable rights and protections currently imbued to them through Section 964. We understand that tenants have no real oversight of the Public Trust, and that the 9-person board with four tenants appointed by NYCHA’s CEO and the Mayor do not offer real representation. We understand that the “public trust” creates another layer of bureaucracy that in other similar cases (like the School Construction Authority) makes it more difficult for our elected representatives to advocate on behalf of their constituents. We understand that in conjunction with RAD/PACT, this means the end of public housing in New York City as we know it. We understand that this trend of selling off public infrastructure - whether outright or through using newly-created, quasi-public state agencies to broker debt arrangements is more and more common across the United States, and has had disastrous consequences for residents everywhere.

We reject the creation of the public trust, and demand that: 

State legislators vote No on the legislation that creates the Public Housing Preservation Trust,
All activities and resources (human or fiscal) allocated in relation to the Blueprint be halted immediately,
All personnel reassignments that support the implementation of the Blueprint be reversed immediately,
Representatives at all levels find ways to immediately allocate public funding to address the humanitarian crisis that has been created by willful negligence by elected officials and NYCHA. 

Demand 2: Oust Russ

Since Day 1, Greg Russ has shown a callous disregard for the residents who live in public housing in New York City, despite feigning otherwise. This has been shown in a number of ways.

His sole ambition as NYCHA’s Chair and CEO has been to privatize and financialize the buildings where we live, which ample academic and legal research shows will not bode well for residents. Even as the political climate has shifted and public funding opportunities have been (re)presented (by Senator Schumer, Congresswoman Velazquez, and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez), Russ has remained solely focused on the Blueprint. 

Russ has violated tenants’ rights, and penalized and harassed those that refuse to support it. For example, Russ penalized tenant association leaders that don’t support the Blueprint by limiting their access to PPP resources. Russ has also intimidated tenants and tenants leaders that disagree with him.

Russ has diverted funds, efforts and resources to the Blueprint that could have gone towards addressing critical repairs and improving living conditions for residents. For example, NYCHA contracted NYC Action Lab to conduct outreach and canvassing in order to reintroduce legislation. NYCHA has been training staff on skills necessary to implement the Blueprint proposal. NYCHA is printing and mailing glossy and expensive-looking materials that supposedly lay out the Blueprint proposal. Russ has created a Resident Roundtable intended to display “resident engagement”, but privileging the perspectives of 30 residents selected through an opaque application process does not constitute real engagement, and in fact is anti-democractic. The information that is being distributed to residents through mailers, virtual town halls, and word-of-mouth by an army of organizers (NYC Action Lab), and to elected officials behind closed doors contain lies and language meant to obfuscate the true nature of the Blueprint (as described above). 

Russ’ actions and decisions have effectively limited the scope of the public conversation about the present and future state of NYCHA. The Blueprint, and Russ’ emphasis on it seek to reframe what is a crisis of willful neglect at all levels of government and by NYCHA into a funding problem which can be resolved by entering tenants - by way of their homes - into inherently risky debt agreements with private investors who view this relationship as an investment opportunity.


En Español

El plan del director ejecutivo de la Autoridad de Vivienda de la Ciudad de Nueva York (NYCHA), Greg Russ, conocido como Blueprint for Change: Transition Plan, tiene como objetivo privatizar decenas de residencias de vivienda pública, lo que eliminará permanentemente miles de unidades de vivienda asequible en la ciudad de Nueva York y pondrá en riesgo a 100.000 habitantes de BIPOC de la clase trabajadora. de la falta de vivienda. El historial de Greg Russ en el desmantelamiento de viviendas públicas comenzó en Detroit en 1995 y una estela de destrucción lo siguió desde allí hasta Chicago, Cambridge y Minneapolis. Y ahora, como director de NYCHA, planea ser aún más destructivo, ya que NYCHA es la autoridad de vivienda pública más grande del país por un amplio margen.

Los abajo firmantes nos oponemos al Plan y exigimos que nuestros hogares y nuestros derechos como inquilinos permanezcan regulados bajo la Sección 9 y que los fondos públicos se asignen de inmediato. Rechazamos todas las versiones de la creación del fideicomiso “público” y cualquier mecanismo que transfiera nuestros hogares a la Sección 8.

Además, exigimos que Greg Russ sea destituido de su función como presidente y director ejecutivo de NYCHA y sea reemplazado por alguien que respete la vivienda pública como institución, esté dispuesto a luchar por las opciones de financiamiento público y ofrezca a los inquilinos un asiento genuino en la mesa y en las decisiones sobre sus hogares, comunidades y futuros.

Demandas detalladas

Demanda 1: Elimine la factura.

Los legisladores estatales votan No a la legislación que crea el Fideicomiso de Preservación de Vivienda Pública,
Todas las actividades y recursos (humanos o fiscales) asignados en relación con el Blueprint se detendrán inmediatamente,
Todas las reasignaciones de personal que apoyan la implementación del Blueprint se revertirán de inmediato,
Los representantes de todos los niveles encuentran formas de asignar fondos públicos de inmediato para abordar la crisis humanitaria que ha sido creada por la negligencia intencional de los funcionarios electos y NYCHA.

Demanda 2: Eliminar Russ.

Gregorry Russ sea relevado de sus deberes y responsabilidades como presidente y director ejecutivo de NYCHA, a más tardar el 1 de junio de 2021.
Los procesos para involucrar auténticamente a los inquilinos en la selección de la próxima Cátedra se desarrollen rápidamente y con el asesoramiento de los inquilinos.
Vito Mustaciuolo, o alguien similar que haya mostrado un compromiso con la verdadera preservación e inversión en vivienda pública bajo la Sección 9, debe ser nombrado presidente interino de NYCHA el 2 de junio de 2021 y ocupar el cargo hasta que los residentes puedan elegir democráticamente a un presidente. de NYCHA.


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