For the first time, the city is tackling two of its most pressing issues — homelessness and affordable housing — under one roof.
This is incorrect. The cluster site program, despised by city officials, homeless people, and the general public alike, are exactly”affordable housing” and homeless shelters under the same roof. The Legal Aid Society is currently suing a landlord for taking rent-stabilized units offline to make them available to the Department of Homeless Services as family shelter units.
De Blasio administration officials Tuesday broke ground on a first-of-its-kind combination homeless shelter/affordable housing development in the Bronx, part of an effort to maximize resources to combat the parallel problems.
Again, it’s not first-of-its-kind (Fermino needs to learn to fact-check), and the problems aren’t so much parallel as in one being the cause of the other–lack of affordable housing is the primary cause of homelessness.
The new $62 million “Landing Road Residence” in the borough’s University Heights section will feature 135 units of housing alongside a 200-bed shelter for homeless working adults.
Look at that. The fact that they are building a shelter for homeless working adults rather than affordable housing shows how far into the depths of depravity the administration has gone. Why are they building new shelters for such people instead of permanent housing they can actually afford? This is an ethically bankrupt policy.
The permanent housing is reserved for people with very low-incomes, with the majority of the studios for people who earn $21,175 a year or less.
Again, this is indicative of New York City’s disastrous economy. Someone making $21,175 a year should be able to live in a multiroom home and be able to support a family. I am currently temping at MTA for $12.50 an hour, which is why updates to this blog have mostly been restricted to my reading progress pages, since it’s much harder to get online in the evening, and extensions of library computer time are much scarcer with fewer libraries open. Since I’m scheduled to work only 35 hours per week (although overtime is allowed, with only 35 hours regularly scheduled, I’ve hit it only once, and only for .75 hours), that puts my annual gross income (though the job is almost sure to end as soon as the project does) at $22,750. That’s with a master’s degree, mind you, since most white collar jobs are gone. I used to live in a one-bedroom apartment for $981.93 per month. I left in 2012 when the rent was raised to $1,018.75, because I was broke and had a job offer in Jacksonville (I just had my bank account levied when it went over $2,100 following the shelter savings plan). My ex-landlord’s attorneys Gutman, Mintz, Baker, and Sonnenfeldt, which a housing activist acquaintance called “the worst scumlord attorneys” in a private communication to me, are demanding $2,093.29 from me in backed rent, even though my property was in storage and I was in Jacksonville, Florida in those months.
Worst of all, according to Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS), my ex-landlord, North Rim, LLC, has not even owned the property since November 21, 2012, when it failed to pay its mortgage. They could not have been significantly impacted by the loss of my rent money. They stated in court that they received the key in late April, 2012 (I sent it in late February, but did not get a certificate of mailing to prove it, putting me at a disadvantage in court), and had a new tenant in May 1, meaning that I left the apartment in excellent condition relative to what it was when I rented it. The next building owner then lost the property on November 19, 2014.
It’s disgusting that they are allowed to collect this money. Apparently, under New York State contract law, they have a right to collect rent from me even if they had rented the apartment to someone else for those months. Talk about profits-over-people in a supposedly liberal bastion like New York City! Why should I have to pay them for services not rendered? If you agree with that, you should have to pay me for two months in apartments that I do not own in which you did not stay. That’s exactly what is being demanded of me. I should be allowed to do the same with others if we are all equal under the law. That I’m not shows how ridiculous and unjust such a law is. It makes me an indentured servant to my ex-landlord, unable to enjoy the fruits of my labors, since it’s all taken away for something that gives me no benefit in return.
The shelter and the housing development will have separate entrances, but will share some of the same social services from the provider, the non-profit Bowery Resident’s Committee.
Ah! The return of the “poor door” controversy, which have been made illegal in New York City, and it’s run by the Bowery Residents Committee. Its president, Muzzy Rosenblatt, was the first commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services. He convinced Mayor Koch that he could run it more effectively than the Human Resources Administration, so it became a separate department. What it did was create bloated bureaucracy and cause the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to rescind its duties to buildings supervised by the Department of Homeless Services, so that the less stringent inspection methods of DHS leave homeless people in unsafe conditions that HPD could never allow. If a shelter resident makes a 311 complaint about building code violations, they can’t mention that it’s a shelter or 311 will make them talk to DHS, which will do nothing to alleviate the problem.
In addition to providing a new type of mixed-use housing, the development is also a marked departure from past city policy, which relied heavily on for-profit providers to run homeless shelters.
By law, the non-profits must funnel any extra money they make back into the development.
The shelters are easily getting around this. They often put 15 people in a single room and get $3,500, luxury condo rates, for each resident, while providing them with little in the way of useful services. The director of my current shelter, the Bowery Mission Transitional Center, Robert De Guzman, who looks about 25 and I seriously doubt actually earned such a high position, reminded us at last Friday night’s house meeting how much we don’t want to get transferred from this shelter, where each of us gets an 8 foot by 10 foot private room. The vast majority of the money is going to the salaries of the executive director and upper staff. It’s got lots of mice and roaches and is still putting too many people in too small a space for the amount of money it receives per head.
“Doesn’t it make a lot more sense to pay the good guys to run the shelters and have them take the same money and put it back into affordable housing?” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen. “That’s the big idea.”
If Alicia Glen considers non-profit shelter providers “the good guys,” she is clearly unaware of reality or is in bed with Muzzy Rosenblatt.
Several other developments that will be run by non-profits and include shelter beds and permanent housing are in the pipeline, she said.
The new Landing Road Residence — which is primarily funded by the city, but also includes state and federal monies — is expected to open within two years.
The bottom line is that homeless shelters make so much money that that their revenue is being used to build so-called “affordable housing,” which isn’t affordable (in this case) to anyone making less than $12 an hour. Most so-called “affordable housing” is for people who make above the median income for their area. This is why Picture the Homeless is proposing a pilot project that would eventually shut down the shelter system entirely and build permanently affordable housing with the government funds that are currently being used to line the wallets of so-called non-profit shelter providers. Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services (a position that oversees DHS and HRA, among others) Lilliam Barrios-Paoli was on board with our plan, but mysteriously resigned from her paid position for an unpaid position with New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. Needless to say, many of us do not believe that her resignation was really voluntary even if it appears so on the surface.
It’s unfortunate that The New York Daily News seems to have hired Jennifer Fermino to be a public relations writer for the city rather than an investigative journalist. I don’t want to blame her personally, because she was probably not provided with the resources to to the job the residents of New York City needed her to do.