Tenant activists fight each other over vouchers

Socialist Cea Weaver, NYCHA leader Melanie Aucello exchange barbs on Twitter

New York /
Sep.September 10, 2021 12:39 PM
(iStock)

(iStock)

Tenant organizer Cea Weaver waded into housing policy talk on Twitter and found herself in deep water with the president of a NYCHA tenant association over rental vouchers.

Weaver, campaign coordinator at Housing Justice For All, started things off Saturday afternoon by tweeting a thought about rental vouchers within a larger thread on what issues her organization prioritizes.

“It’s not really the vouchers’ fault that they subsidize real estate,” Weaver wrote. “They could be a stable operating subsidy for social or even public housing, and that would be a good thing.”

The next morning, Melanie Aucello, president of the tenants association at a NYCHA development in Kips Bay, jumped on the tweet to call it a “piece of sht ‘hot take’ about vouchers.”

Through her work with Fight For NYCHA, Aucello has championed ending the Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD, which allows private developers to manage NYCHA buildings using federal Section 8 vouchers instead of traditional — and less reliable — public housing funding. Fight For NYCHA argues that RAD puts money in the pockets of private landlords at tenants’ expense.

“This is the same real estate industry that aims to deregulate rents and to fight the enforcement of tenant protections,” the site reads.

Aucello invoked a line from Rep. Nydia Velazquez to counter Weaver’s support of vouchers.

“NYCHA or any agency or city government should not be in the business of selling public housing,” Aucello wrote. (The Housing Authority retains ownership and control of developments in the RAD program, which has been embraced by the de Blasio administration.)

Weaver diverted the conversation back to a broader discussion. Asking Aucello to table the NYCHA talk, Weaver elaborated that federal funding, such as Section 8, could help organizers convert vacant or distressed hotels into housing for the homeless.

Cea Weaver and Melanie Aucello (Twitter)

Cea Weaver and Melanie Aucello (Twitter)

“It’s not about selling NYCHA at all — it’s abt more subsidy for the operation of housing that serves low income people,” Weaver tweeted. As things stand, Weaver said, vouchers generally equal a subsidy for private developers.

“My point is it doesn’t have to be true,” she wrote. “They could, in the long run, in a different property regime, subsidize social or public housing.”

Then the name-calling started.

Aucello dubbed Weaver a two-faced liar and alleged she previously pushed vouchers under the Blueprint for Change, a proposal that would have transitioned all NYCHA units not covered under RAD or a sister program, PACT, to the Section 8 voucher program. The move would have effectively ended public housing in the city, Gotham Gazette reported.

A Blueprint for Change bill was shelved in May by the state legislature.

To back her statement, Aucello linked to a Fight For NYCHA page that said Cea Weaver had negotiated with state legislators for approval or support of Blueprint with minor conditions. However, the linked page did not cite the source of that information.

Weaver responded that Aucello may have been conflating the Blueprint with Housing Justice For All’s push for the Housing Access Voucher Program, a state-funded companion to Section 8 that would extend housing vouchers to homeless New Yorkers. The bill is sitting in the state Senate’s housing committee.

Fight For NYCHA’s Twitter account then stepped into the ring, accusing Weaver of gaslighting Aucello.

“Are you saying Melanie doesn’t know what she’s talking about?” it tweeted. “Is that what you’re saying?”

Weaver backed off: “No absolutely not!”

The tiff points to larger fissures within the tenant advocacy movement, if not also the hostility Twitter can exhume, even on a holiday weekend.

In a tweet posted on Monday, Weaver seemed to have had her fill.

“this weekend for labor day i left new york politics twitter (work) and joined housing discourse twitter (leisure) and like i desperately want back into NY politics twitter please god let me back,” she said.





    Related Articles

    arrow_forward_ios
    From left: Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and South Boston Senator Nick Collins with Boston City Hall
    Controversial transfer tax bill advances in Boston
    Controversial transfer tax bill advances in Boston
    City Planning chair Dan Garodnick, City Council member Julie Won, City Council member Marjorie Velázquez, City Council speaker Adrienne Adams (Illustration by Kevin Cifuentes for The Real Deal with Getty Images, NYC.gov, council.nyc.gov, Twitter)
    The rezoning conundrum
    The rezoning conundrum
    From left: Letitia James, Donald Trump, Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, Allen Weisselberg, and Donald Trump Jr. (Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal with Getty Images)
    NY AG files civil fraud suit against Trump, children and company
    NY AG files civil fraud suit against Trump, children and company
    Tiffany Cabán (right) and Sen. Jabari Brisport, and a rendering of the Hallets North project (Getty, Studio V, New York Senate Photo, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
    In socialists we trust: Tiffany Cabán and the great housing breakthrough
    In socialists we trust: Tiffany Cabán and the great housing breakthrough
    Gregory Russ and Mayor Eric Adams (Getty)
    Adams ousts NYCHA chief after arsenic scare
    Adams ousts NYCHA chief after arsenic scare
    New York City Council member Tiffany Cabán along with a rendering of the Hallets North development (Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal with Getty Images, Studio V Architecture PLLC)
    Far-left Council member approves 1,400-unit Queens development
    Far-left Council member approves 1,400-unit Queens development
    City Council member Kristin Jordan and developer Bruce Teitelbaum with West 145th Street and Lenox Avenue (Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)
    Developer to Harlem pol who blocked project: “Truck you!”
    Developer to Harlem pol who blocked project: “Truck you!”
    NYC mayor Eric Adams (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)
    This is the Eric Adams that real estate has been waiting for
    This is the Eric Adams that real estate has been waiting for
    arrow_forward_ios

    The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

    Loading...