Ask any native New Yorkers, especially black and brown New Yorkers, and “word on the street” has long been the notion that with gentrification would come the demolition of public housing, long the place many poorer black and brown New Yorkers have called home.
Now comes word that the idea is no longer just a notion, with sources telling news outlets that the New York City Housing Authority, the nation’s largest public housing agency, providing homes to 400,000 people, is considering tearing down at least one public housing building in order to make way for a mixed-income residence with a majority of market-rate rentals.
According to Politico, the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who campaigned on a platform of increasing affordable housing in the city, is considering demolishing two of the smaller buildings at the Fulton Houses development in Manhattan’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood.
In their place, NYCHA would build a larger mixed-income building, where 70 percent of the tenants would pay market-rate rents, and the remaining 30 percent of the building would be affordable to public housing renters.
In addition, the city would turn over management of the new building to a private company, which, according to Politico sources, would be able to make a profit on the mixed-income site and use those monies to keep the Fulton Houses complex maintained in a way NYCHA has struggled to do.
NYCHA needs $32 billion to make needed repairs over the next five years; $168 million at the Fulton Houses alone, Politico reports.
While the new building was under construction at Fulton, the displaced NYCHA tenants would be housed in two buildings put up on a little-used parking lot currently at the complex, Politico reports.
The news has Fulton Houses residents fearing the loss of their homes, and de Blasio took to Twitter to try to ease their concerns:
But Fulton residents, some of whom have called the complex home for some 50 years, aren’t buying the mayor’s assurances, according to Spectrum New York 1 News.
“I believe they’re going to make those high risers and just forget about us,” one Fulton Houses tenant told the local cable news channel. “ ... Here’s families that have been here 50 years, I got tenants that’s been in my building for 51 years. ... A lot of the tenants in my building are not leaving. At least not without a fight.”