After last week's announcement from the city that around 1,000 new apartments will be built on existing NYCHA public housing land—Wyckoff Gardens in Boerum Hill and Holmes Towers on the Upper East Side—residents are worried they'll be pushed out.
"How are you going to have people here paying $200, $300 rent, then you’ve got tenants in a brand new building paying $1,500, $2,000?” one tenant at Wyckoff Gardens told the Daily News. "I think they’re trying to force us out."
NYCHA Chairwoman Shola Olatoye said in a statement to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that community “engagement is central” to the program. “We are reaching out to residents to inform them about the program and benefits this week, will hold briefings and meeting starting next week and host a resident forum in the next few weeks,” Olatoye added.
Residents at Wyckoff and Holmes have been getting robo-calls from Olatoye, stating the authority would "have the opportunity to build new housing that will bring additional revenue for repairs and capital improvements in your development". These calls, without details of the developments, "confused and frightened tenants", according to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. "You can't do robo-calls on a plan nobody understands," Brewer said.
NYCHA tenants are already feeling the pressure of the impending apartments. "With the market rate income, what's going to be happening to a neighborhood that's already stressed?" asked Beverly Corbin, a 61-year-old longtime resident of Wyckoff Gardens told the Daily News. "The people who are high income, they're not going to be shopping at the local bodega. We already lost a Chinese restaurant and a laundromat."
Developers will be allowed to buy or take out 99-year leases on the spaces—which include the "underutilized" parking lots in Wyckoff Gardens and a playground at Holmes Towers. The ratio of accessible housing is set at 50/50, whereby half is affordable and half market-rate—it's a drop from Bloomberg's original proposal on his way out of City Hall, which would have seen 80% luxury units in the new buildings.
The planned developments are an attempt to offset NYCHA's financial woes—last year, Comptroller Scott Stringer's audit found that the housing authority has unmet capital needs of more than $6 billion and "needs $18 billion to bring all of its developments into good repair."