The proposed NYCHA infill plan will create luxury housing on existing properties throughout New York City that were intended for residents with limited incomes, depriving them of much needed air, light, space, and recreational facilities. In the case of Meltzer Tower, a residence for low-income seniors, NYCHA is planning to destroy a local park adjacent to the building containing a stand of over thirty fully mature trees.
NYCHA claims that the so-called "infill" plan is the only feasible means of generating income to fund long delayed repairs. However, NYCHA is effectively transferring public land that it was given for public use to private developers for private profit. This land was purchased and developed with taxpayer dollars for the use of low-income tenants and it continues to be funded with taxpayer dollars. Given the terms of the lease agreement as they have been stated, this transfer will be permanent. Tenants and neighbors lose vital open space, the taxpayer loses through the transfer of public land to private interests, but private developers gain.
A Bad Deal for Public Housing
How much NYCHA will actually receive from the leasing arrangement has yet to be revealed. However, it is estimated that the plan would provide no more than $30-60 million a year for all properties combined. This revenue will do little or nothing to alter NYCHA's existing budget problems, which are estimated to reach $13 billion dollars by 2015. Given the limited income NYCHA will derive from the plan and the unforeseeable nature of future development in Manhattan, funding alternatives should be sought. Such alternatives are possible but NYCHA has not pursued them.
A Bad Deal for Tenants and Neighbors
This plan was proposed without the approval of tenants or the neighboring community and developed, largely in secret, without their participation. In spite of vocal opposition from tenants and the community at large, NYCHA has stated that it intends to proceed with its Infill Plan.
Permanent Transformation of the Community
If allowed to proceed, the NYCHA Infill Plan would dramatically and permanently alter our communities in ways that we are opposed to. It will result in years of disruption, pollution, noise, and overcrowding, and, in the case of Meltzer Tower, will destroy an existing park with a stand of over 30 fully mature trees.
An August 2012 Daily News article provided extensive coverage of mismanagement at the troubled agency, including "NYCHA’s failure to spend $42 million set aside by the City Council for security cameras; its conversion of a Brooklyn project into a ghost town through bureaucratic bungling; and its decision to sit on nearly $1 billion in federal funding dating back to 2009." In light of this, and other failures, are we willing to entrust the future of our community's well-being to an agency that has shown such widespread errors in judgment and lack of concern for how taxpayer money is spent? The present infill scheme is merely a temporary stopgap measure that will have little or no change on the agency's finances but cause lasting damage to its constituents.
What We Want
We demand that an immediate investigation of NYCHA practices be undertaken by an outside auditor and an evaluation of real requirements be made.
NYCHA must also develop a workable plan for properly funding current and future requirements that does not include the construction of luxury developments on existing public land.
We call upon NYCHA, our local representatives, and congressional legislators to put a stop to this ill-conceived and unwanted plan. And, because NYCHA funding is approved at the Federal level, we call upon our representatives in Washington, D.C. not merely to investigate the infill plan but to assist in seeking alternative funding solutions to prevent the current situation from deteriorating further.
Friends of Meltzer