This past Thursday, I was part of a Stop REBNY Campaign, outside the New York Hilton, lead by Ray Rogers, and 15 plus clergyman addressing the problems of displacement, homelessness, and small business. While covering the rally, I had the opportunity to question State Assemblymember Harvey Epstein, about the problems. As you will hear in the interview, the Assemblyman talks about having to get a stronger organizing campaign to pass laws. I just don't understand that comment, I also don't understand why bills are stuck in the City Council for 36 years. Both the City and State Officials, unless they have been out of the country, know damn well that the problems that exist today, have been around for decades and we should have had laws to protect our tenants, and our small business owners by now.
Please listen to this short clip: https://soundcloud.com/mikemccabe/assemblyman-epstien
Please read an email I received from my friends at Youth Against Displacement:
Dear Friends and Supporters,
From the illegal megatowers the City wants to build in Two Bridges in Lower East Side, to the East Harlem and Inwood rezonings, to privatization of NYCHA and public land, to the Amazon headquarters in LIC subsidized by our tax dollars, it is clear Mayor de Blasio wants to turn our city into a banking account for the 1% at the expense of the people who live and work here. Everywhere across the city, people are standing up against the gentrifier-in-chief Mayor.
This Martin Luther King Day, we will gather at the 80-story Extell luxury tower, which has a "poor door" to separate low- and middle-income families from the rich. This is de Blasio's legacy of segregation and economic racism. Dr. King would be so aghast to hear that this Mayor even shamelessly self-brands himself the "progressive leader" of the city. From Extell, we will march to City Hall to tell the Mayor: WE WILL NOT BE MOVED!
Are you ready to take up the fight to save your lives and your neighborhoods? Join our march to reclaim the City that's supposed to work for the people, not the richest 1%. We demand the Mayor:
1. Stop City agencies from evicting tenants on behalf of landlords to deny the tenants' rights of due process
2. Stop selling public land (including NYCHA) and end 421-a tax exemption
This morning, I as well as many other Red Hook residents, attended a meeting set up by Councilman Menchaca, to discuss the temporary shelter located at a hotel, here in Red Hook. For those of you that could not attend, I have created a link for you to listen to the meeting. Please excuse the background noise. Link: https://soundcloud.com/mikemccabe/red-hook-homelessness-meeting
- How many of the people in the shelter lived in Red Hook before their homelessness occurred?
- How many people are living there now regardless of where they came from before?
- And what is the maximum number of people you expect?
- How many children are in the shelter?
- How and where are they going to school each morning?
- Are there any sex offenders living in the shelter?
- How are you helping these people to find permanent housing?
- Some of these people may have jobs that are insufficient to pay the high rents in Brooklyn, are you helping them to locate better jobs?
- How does your organization choose and shelter or hotel when placing the homeless?
- As of Sunday, December 16th, there were 61,005 individuals living in New York City shelters. And in the Executive Summary of a report, I read: DHS is planning to reduce the census by 2,500 people within the next 5 years. It is ridiculous to think that we will ever be able to help these people with current thinking.
- This is not only a New York City problem; New York state has more than 92,000 homeless with the whole of the United States at 553,000 homeless.
- In comparison, NY is fairing better in getting people into shelters with 95.3% living in shelters compared to California, with 129,972 homeless and only 31.1% living in shelters.
- "Mayor de Blasio has made one of his signature policy goals the unprecedented creation and preservation of 300,000 units of affordable housing, as outlined in his Housing New York 2.0 plan. However, he is planning to designate just 15,000 of these units for homeless households by 2026 – a paltry 5 percent.6.
- In contrast, at a time when the shelter census was only a fraction of what it is today, Mayor Koch dedicated more than 10 percent of his overall housing plan to homeless adults and families, contributing to significant decreases in homelessness between the late 1980s and 1990s."
- It is my opinion the mayor's plan adds to the homeless situation. The rents are well beyond what current tenants can afford, it forces those people to leave the community, Mom & Pop stores are being forced out too because landlords have nothing to prevent them from raising rents to incredible levels.
We just got a copy of the "The 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress" and I have to tell you that the first paragraph I read set me off:
"On a single night in 2018, roughly 553,000 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States. About two-thirds (65%) were staying in sheltered locations—emergency shelters or transitional housing programs—and about one-third (35%) were in unsheltered locations such as on the street, in abandoned buildings, or in other places not suitable for human habitation." There was a 0.3 percent increase between 2017 and 2018.
And then I jumped to the Goals that they are planning: "While the number of people experiencing homelessness increased modestly, by less than one percent between 2017 and 2018, homelessness has declined by more than 84,000 people since 2010, a 13 percent reduction. Recent increases in national homelessness were driven by increases in individuals staying in unsheltered locations." Eight fucking years and H.U.D. gets excited because 13% of the people were no longer homeless. How many of them died? It doesn't say.
As of January of 2018, there were 553,000 homeless people in the richest country the world has ever seen. How is that possible?
And let's not talk about Democrats or Republicans, they are both guilty. Guilty of not caring.
If the government did care we would not have a Defense Budget of $7 billion dollars. We spend $7 billion dollars to kill innocent people in foreign countries while leaving 553,000 Americans on the street. Is all that oil really worth it?
Here in NewYork State, there are more than 92,000 homeless, mostly in NYC. So the Federal Government spends money on Defense and NYC hands over $3 billion to the richest man in the world, so he can make more money.
What is wrong with us as a people?
To see what is happening in Paris is very upsetting for anyone that has ever been there. But it has been the history of Paris to struggle for its equality and freedoms. We Americans should be very conscious of the problems in Paris because they exist here as well as I've stated above. And what is happening there can and will ignite here in a moments notice. Let us not forget, the thousands of homeless people in New York City, with more than 23,000 children leaving shelters every morning to go to school. Think of your own children having to experience that nightmare.
The increases in rents are forcing parents to work two and three jobs just to keep what they have. And still, our government officials go out of their way to assist real estate developers in creating massive towers which change the character of neighborhoods and force greedy landlords to harass tenants or deny Mom & Pop stores new leases.
While mass media spins with news about Trump, it overlooks what is really affecting the people and that is capitalism and their local government. Get off your ass and do something about our way of life in the United States.
Here is a link to the H.U.D. Report: https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2018-AHAR-Part-1.pdf
Sunset Park, Brooklyn
This is a reply to an open letter Councilman Carlos Menchaca sent to us, his constituents, regarding the homelessness that exists in Sunset Park.
Last month, residents and local leaders held a meeting at Community Board 7, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFHAWqDACEU) to discuss the homelessness situation that is impacting the Sunset Park community. Six shelters and some hotels turned shelters have appeared over the past five years, causing considerable concern to the community. These shelters and hotels turned shelters suddenly appear in the neighborhood without warning from the Department of Homeless Services.
People in the area complain that there have been break in's and drug activity since these shelters have opened. Inspector Gonzales, who runs the 72 Precinct said that his data showed no relationship to the homeless to the uptick in recent crimes in the neighborhood.
Councilman Menchaca mentions in his letter that he has concerns about how City Hall is handling, or I would say mishandling this situation. I too am concerned and want to know, why are these people here? And why are they not getting help finding jobs, places to live, or mental healthcare?
Housing and the Homeless are critical issues for me as an activist, but I believe that people that become homeless belong in their community and should not be moved to some other part of the city. It was mentioned though, in the meeting at CB7, that there are people from all over, even some from Europe, which really struck me.
We must have compassion for the homeless; remember, this is New York City, and homelessness can happen to any of us. We think life is secure, but it is not.
This city's elected officials are forcing people into the streets by adding to the effects of gentrification and allowing mass housing projects to rise with rents well above what current residents can afford. Just last week, I saw a comment from Mayor de Blasio says it's all legal. Well, make laws that make it illegal, at least add restrictions.
While our Councilman offers concerns about homelessness, it is only the symptom, not the cause. Communities have rights to this city and should not be forced out of a place that some have spent their entire lives living in. It is morally wrong. The City Council and the State Assembly must pass protection laws to keep people in their community.
Currently, I am part of a group trying to prevent the building of four towers, one a 100 story building in the lower east side. City Planning, a group of people, not elected, but appointed are impacting the lives of thousands of people that will be forced out of Chinatown and the Lower east side. Everyone in this city must stand up to the Mayor and the Capitalist developers to stop what they are doing to our city. I am not against developing. I am against displacement. But it should be the community deciding what is happening to their neighborhood.
We are losing Mom & Pop stores because greedy landlords have the right to raise rents to unbelievable heights. The City Council MUST pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. And we as a City must force the Mayor to sign the bill he has already said he would not.
Link to Councilman's letter: Here is a link:https://www.kingscountypolitics.com/brooklyn-lawmakers-on-the-move-dec-18-2018/?utm_source=Kings+County+Politics+Morning+Newsletter&utm_campaign=848bb205b2-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_12_18_12_26&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_466a6c86df-848bb205b2-324299849
image courtesy of the Municipal Art Society of New York
This is a reprint of an email I received this morning:
The plan for new skyscrapers in Two Bridges passed the City Planning Commission in a 10-3 vote on 12/5/18.
This is the latest example of how Mayor de Blasio and his agencies blatantly violate their own law* and ignore community opposition in the interest of big developers. From Amazon to pro-developer rezonings to jail proposals, we have seen again and again the Mayor’s intention to destroy the city that we love.
But momentum has been building and now is the time to fight back - it’s not too late!
Please join us for a Two Bridges TOWN HALL to learn how to fight against these towers!
NO TOWERS, NO COMPROMISE
Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side
When: Dec 12, Wednesday at 6 pm
Where: P.S. 2, 122 Henry St (at Pike St)
*Despite being approved by the City Planning Commission, these towers are ILLEGAL.
CPC Chair Marisa Lago said before her vote in favor of the application that legally the minor modification meets the conditions of the current zoning regulations.
But the proposed site for development is a
Large Scale Residential Development (LSRD), governed by Zoning Resolution Article 7, Chapter 8. There is no need for a full ULURP since these towers violate the existing zoning. The Zoning Resolution governing the LSRD requires that any proposed development get a special permit from the City before construction begins. The development would be approved only if it will:
1. Not interfere with the character of the neighborhood
2. Not restrict light and air or privacy
3. Not Introduce detrimental building bulk
4. Not create traffic congestion
5. Serve a public need
6. Lead to better site planning
The proposed development does not meet any of these requirements!
For additional information
Lower East Side Organized Neighbors (LESON)
Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side, c/o NMASS 212-358-0295
click on pic to see video
Groups from the lower east side and Chinatown come out to serve ethics complaint to City Council member, Margaret Chin. All in an effort to save their neighborhood from the Two Trees Company's proposal to build super-tall buildings along the east river.
click on pic to see video
David Tieu, community leader, explains what is happening in the lower east side of Manhattan with proposals to erect 4 super tall buildings along the east river.