Community members and elected officials from the Two Bridges neighborhood on the Lower East Side said they were blindsided to learn that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had given early support for a plan to relocate seniors while JDS Development Group builds a 79-story apartment tower.
Representatives from HUD wrote to the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and the Settlement Housing Fund after they asked the agency in November to approve the temporary relocation of up to 19 elderly residents who live at 80 Rutgers Slip while JDS constructs its 660-unit rental tower at 247 Cherry Street, DNAinfo reported.
Nine of the units would have to be vacated for a year during construction and 10 units would be permanently displaced. Those residents would receive new housing in JDS’ tower once it is completed.
All of the tenants would be housed in nearby affordable-housing properties during construction.
HUD said the agency supports the plan but that formal approval will be needed in the future.
But City Councilmember Margaret Chin said she had been asking the property owners for details on potential locations and was told nothing had been finalized. She said she was “shocked” to hear HUD had given preliminary support without talking to her or community members.
“When a senior relocation plan gets crucial support from a federal agency charged with monitoring and regulating a building that houses seniors without any public consultation, it raises serious questions about those who stand to benefit from the sale of development rights at that property, and the proposed development as a whole,” Chin said.
Victor Papa, president of Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, said he was simply following protocol in giving HUD a broad outline of the plan, and had been working on scheduling a date to meet with Chin.
“It’s all preliminary,” he said. “We’re looking for expertise that could handle this very delicate personal process with the tenant in a way that lessens the impact on the tenant.” [DNAinfo] – Rich Bockmann