News & Politics

Billionaire Mayor Bloomberg Wants to Build Luxury Apartments Atop Poor Children's Playgrounds

New York City's public housing authority plans to lease land to private developers, according to the New York Daily News.

Public Housing in New York City.
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The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has plans to lease land on public housing property for luxury developments. The New York Daily News revealed last weekthat the housing authority plans to lease land to private developers, who will then build 3 million square feet of high-end apartments in the middle of public housing projects.

And the developers “will get a sweet deal: a 99-year lease with the lease payments to the authority frozen for the first 35 years,” the Daily News reported. While 20% of the units will be “affordable”--which means the developers get tax breaks--the rest of the units will be market-rate and out of reach financially for many New York residents.

Gawker notes that “the land to be leased includes playgrounds, parking lots, and community centers — basically necessary amenities for those who live in public housing. And in the place of a playground for their children, tenants will instead look out on luxury housing.”

Many tenants are livid at the plan. “The people who already live in public housing are going to be resentful that you built this housing and left them in shambles,” said Madelyn Innocent, a NYCHA tenant.

Billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg is predictably behind the plan. He appoints the chair of the board of NYCHA.  “If you want to have NYCHA buildings be improved and be great places to live, safe and clean and where things function, you’re going to have to have money from someplace,” the mayor said. But it’s his successor who will have to carry the plan out--and the current crop of mayoral candidates are blasting the plan.

One candidate, City Comptroller John Liu, said that the plan is a “giveaway to developers with NYCHA getting a small paycheck for luxury real estate, built on the backs of current residents.”

This plan is hardly the only gripe city residents of low-income housing have with the authority. For instance, the cash-strapped agency has been criticized for allowing a"backlog of 420,000 public housing apartment repairs."

Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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