On December 23, 2021, Metro IAF affiliates Manhattan Together (MT) and South Bronx Churches (SBC) reached an agreement with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to extend robust legal protections against mold, leaks and other excess moisture to tenants in buildings that are part of NYCHA’s Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT) program. Roughly 62,000 units will be converted to private management through PACT, a federal Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program.
These protections are part of the consent decree reached in the Metro IAF federal lawsuit, Baez v. NYCHA. The agreement includes:
- NYCHA requirement that managers address all open mold and excessive moisture repair requests within 60 days after they officially enter RAD/PACT. Following this period, private managers must clean up all mold and excessive moisture complaints within 30 days.
- Building managers must submit monthly reports identifying all unresolved mold complaints -- and a plan to resolve them -- to NYCHA, an independent data analyst and a special master who are already part of the court agreement. If the plan is inadequate, the Special Master can order stronger action.
- RAD/PACT tenants will regain their ability to register mold complaints with the independent mold and leak Ombudsman hired under the consent decree. This Ombudsman’s office has already compelled NYCHA to make almost 7,000 repairs. They will investigate every mold case in a RAD/PACT building that hasn’t been resolved by the required 30-day deadline.
This victory came from the hard work by leaders from MT, SBC and East Brooklyn Congregations, as well as the pro-bono legal team from Proskauer Rose, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice.
Metro IAF’s clergy, tenant and community leaders are working to ensure that tenants in RAD/PACT buildings exercise their rights and will work with NYCHA and developers to ensure the agreement will be executed.
[In photo: Bernard Smith, Rev. Bertram Bennett and Rep. Ritchie Torres speak at Metro IAF rally.]
In response to an extensive organizing campaign by VOICE Arlington, including testimony by 30 Serrano Apartment tenants and VOICE leaders at a December meeting, Arlington County officials are overhauling its oversight of affordable housing and building owner accountability.
County changes now include:
1) Increased inspections, starting with 1,200 units in six aging, multifamily properties subsidized by the county.
2) Changes to the County's Affordable Housing Investment Fund process that require companies seeking county financing to identify building needs and provide a plan for repairs.
3) Examination of how the County can better support tenants in affordable-housing units. This followed testimony by tenant leaders about years of problems with insects, mold, leaks and crime.
Together, these changes represent a “major body of work” for the County in 2022, according to Vice-Chair Katie Cristol.
In top photo, Rev. Ashley Goff of Arlington Presbyterian Church at GilliamPlace testifies at the Arlington County Board Meeting [Credit: Arlington County video]. Right photos feature dirty, moldy plumbing in Serrano Apartments [Credit: Elder Julio Basurto via ARL Now].
Over 100 Metro IAF public housing leaders and allies from the Melrose and Courtlandt houses and the surrounding community gathered to celebrate the installation of affordable community Wi-Fi at the Melrose houses. Thanks to Metro IAF’s partnership with Bloc Power and People’s Choice Communications, all 1,244 families who live in the Melrose and Courtlandt Houses can now get internet at no cost if they sign up for the Federal Emergency Broadband Benefit, as well as a laptop for only $11.
“Internet access is no longer a luxury, it's a right and a necessity,” said Fr. Sean McGillicuddy, Pastor of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church and a leader with Metro IAF. “Hundreds of my parishioners live in the Melrose and Courtlandt houses, and I’m thrilled that we have been able to work with key partners like BlocPower, PCC, and Representative Torres to help them and their neighbors get access to high-quality internet they can afford.”
“When school was closed because of the pandemic, many children in our community couldn’t get to their classes because the internet was too expensive or the signal wasn’t good enough,” said Angela Medina, a Melrose resident working with Metro IAF, PCC, and BlocPower to reach out and educate her neighbors about the program. “I’m proud to help ensure no one ever has to go through that again, and I am excited about the new lower price for Internet access, which will help so many people to afford things like food, medicine and other necessities.”
Thanks to the work of Metro IAF and partners, the same service is available to an additional 400 families in other low-income and supportive housing buildings in the Bronx. Metro IAF is working to sign up everyone who is eligible, begin installation in two more New York City Housing Authority developments, and find other opportunities to expand this network to people living in other low and moderate-income housing.
[In photo from left: Angela Medina, Fr. Sean McGillicuddy, Rep. Ritchie Torres, Bernard Smith]
New York City Broadband Housing Initiative Gets First Completed Project, Broadband Breakfast [pdf]
Community-Owned WiFi Completed in Two Bronx NYCHA developments, Amsterdam News [pdf]
A Bigger and Stronger Network/“Una Red Más Grande y Más Fuerte, Bronx Free Press [pdf English] [pdf Español]
Wi-Fi Installed for Residents at 2 NYCHA Complexes in the Bronx, News 12 The Bronx
Leaders Applaud AB832 for Keeping Families Housed & Rental Assistance Flowing
Thousands of leaders across California Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) organizations celebrated a new deal announced by the Governor and state legislators to extend the state’s eviction moratorium and rent relief program that was set to expire June 30, 2021.
The California IAF specifically applauds State leaders for:
- Extending the eviction ban to September 30, 2021
- Paying 100% of overdue rent and utilities paid for landlords and tenants
- Providing up to18 months of rental assistance for past and future rent
- Allowing either tenants or land lords to receive funds
- Forestalling evictions until rental assistance applications are attempted
On June 3rd, 2021, over 600 California IAF leaders convened on Zoom -- along with Catholic Bishop Oscar Cantú (whose op-ed can be read here), Episcopal Bishop Lucinda Ashby and two state legislators -- to call for an extension of the eviction moratorium and expansion of SB91 to allow more flexibility with rental assistance distribution to keep families housed. California IAF organized hundreds of phone calls and emails to State Senators, Assembly members and the Governor asking for more time and flexibility to get funds to families who missed rent due to the pandemic.
“California IAF leaders are pleased our state legislators acted to protect our families from eviction and provide 100% of rent owed. Our thanks go to Senators Caballero, Durazo, Laird and Weiner and Assemblymembers Chiu, Bloom, Reyes and Santiago for leading the charge on behalf of our families," said Rabbi Paula Marcus of Temple Beth El, Aptos. "We would have preferred a 6 month extension, but we will turn our focus now to local organizing meetings so our families understand their rights and how to apply for rental assistance.”
“By sharing our stories with state agency staff and legislators, our recommendations were accepted to allow for easier income verification and tenants with informal leases to be included as eligible for assistance. By making future months of rent available, this will allow tenants like me to be able to cover my rent while I pay off the debts to my family and credit card that I took on to keep my landlord paid,” said Lourdes Rios, COPA leader in Santa Cruz County.
Central Coast Reacts to the Extension of the Eviction Moratorium, Noticias Ya [video in Spanish]
Santa Cruz County Housing Advocates Seek State Eviction Moratorium Extension, Santa Cruz Sentinel [pdf]
Local Leaders Ask for Extension of Moratorium on Evictions in California, Telemundo [en español] [pdf]
California IAF Action on Renter Protection, California IAF
Hundreds of Advocates Urge Gov. Newsom to Expand SB91, Good Times [pdf]
With Assistance Lagging, State Must Extend Rental Eviction Moratorium, Santa Cruz Sentinel [pdf]
Hundreds of Advocates Urge Gov. Newsom to Expand SB91, The Pajaronian [pdf]
On September 19, the judge supervising Metro IAF NY’s mold focused federal court consent decree with NYCHA agreed to appoint our choice of an Ombudsperson, Cesar De Castro. Mr. De Castro will have the power to force NYCHA to properly fix mold and leaks hire independent contractors at NYCHA’s expense when they fail to do so. This will begin in the Jefferson Houses in East Harlem and rolling out citywide as soon as possible. Tenants will finally have an ally with court backed authority who can hold NYCHA accountable.
This came from years of work by Metro IAF’s public housing leaders to highlight the fact that most tenants still have seen no real improvement in mold remediation and the push for change. Most recently, on 9/13/19, we held a press conference with Council Member Ritchie Torres outside of the Federal Courthouse where we called for the appointment of the ombudsman and for NYCHA to immediately spend the $50 million in ventilation repair funds that we pushed them to allocate.Read more