Across New York, housing struggles heat up

Rally to prevent privatization of Fulton Houses, April 28. SLL photos: Anne Pruden

New York — On April 27, Bronx tenants rallied on a vacant lot owned by the city of New York along East 152nd Street. The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) was supposed to build affordable senior housing on the site. Mayor Bill de Blasio promised $500 million for the project when he spoke to tenant activists last year.

The money, and the project, have not materialized.

The Rev. Francis Skelly, a lifelong resident of the South Bronx and pastor of the mostly Latinx Immaculate Conception Church, seemed to speak for everyone in the crowd when he pointedly asked, “Where is the money?”  

Referring to the funds promised by de Blasio, Skelly declared, “We basically are calling him a liar!”

The next day, 100 tenants of NYCHA’s Fulton housing project in Manhattan gathered. Militant speakers denounced plans to sell 62,000 city-owned apartments to private realtors.

City officials call this RAD — Rental Assistance Development — and claim it would pay for many long-delayed repairs of NYCHA housing. But the working-class, mostly Black and Brown tenants see it as the beginning of privatization and the end of public housing.

Right next to the Fulton Houses, racist gentrification is rampant on Manhattan’s West Side for all to see. So Fulton tenants are demanding a voice in what is decided about their homes and tenants’ rights.

At the rally, some speakers proposed more taxes on big corporations to pay NYCHA costs.

Tenant representative Amelia Martinez insisted that ” We are not for sale!”

The Fulton tenants know how the working class has to struggle. They announced their next protest for May 4 outside their NYCHA office on West 18th Street.

It’s no secret that rental costs across the U.S. are out of control, and out of the reach of many workers. And New Yorkers already suffer some of the highest rents.

New York’s rent stabilization program, which sets a vital limit to how high rents can be raised and affects hundreds of thousands of tenants citywide, is due to expire on June 15.

Tenants groups are launching a citywide campaign to prevent the end of rent stabilization.

The struggle for housing justice continues!