NYCHA’s luxury development proposal causes fear, doubt among tenants

Baruch Houses on the Lower East Side
Baruch Houses on the Lower East Side

The New York City Housing Authority’s controversial plan to raise over $50 million per year by leasing public housing land to luxury high-rise developers has caused consternation among tenants of the housing projects, who worry that gentrification could see them marginalized and displaced, the New York Times reported. NYCHA intends to use the money for long-term capital improvements such as parks and parking lots and to address a $6 million backlog of repairs.

The agency has assured tenants that they will not be uprooted by the new policy, but residents remain ill at ease. “There’s always an ongoing rumor that Trump is going to buy the buildings,” Damaris Reyes, 41, a community organizer on the Lower East Side and a resident of the Baruch Houses, told the Times.

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Some tenant associations have looked for outside intervention. A group headed by U.S. House Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Velazquez has asked the Bloomberg administration to postpone a request for proposals, which is slated to go out by April.

Tenants are also worried that luxury developments could make the area’s retail stores unaffordable and that their communities could lose city services that cater to low-income residents.

“We’re going to be foreigners in our own homes,” Aixa Torres, tenants’ president at the Alfred E. Smith Houses, which contains nearly 2,000 apartments, told the Times. [NYT]  –-Hiten Samtani