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' J
May 1992 New York' s Community Affairs News Magazine $2.50
H O M E L E S S W O M E N ' S H E A L T H D C U O M O ' S B L U N T W E D G E
B eyond B ricks
and M ortar
The Banana Kelly Community Group
Tries To Steer Its Tenants Straight
eitv Limits
Volume XVII Number 5
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Unholy Alliances
oving beyond fractious ideological disputes and competing
agendas, a broad-based coalition of housing advocates joined
forces in the budget battle last month-and it looks like they've
won an important early victory,
As we go to press, the newest version of the mayor's proposed budget
hasn't been released, but Dinkins administration officials are promising
to restore about half of the proposed $513 million cut in capital spending
on housing that was announced this winter_
That's a significant step in the right direction_ If the City Hall scissor-
hands slashed away as they originally planned, it would have brought an
end to the city's ambitious attempt to rebuild New York's poorest
neighborhoods. Out the window_ Kaput.
Neighborhood housing groups that have 'spent years developing a
sophisticated system for rebuilding housing would have had to fire staff
and sit tight, hoping against hope for new federal housing money to kick
in. And who knows when that would have happened?
Behind the united front of the coalition against the budget cuts are
groups that usually compete with each other for precious government
subsidies: advocates for the homeless, city-wide nonprofit developers,
community based housing groups, and the New York City Partnership,
which develops middle-income housing in poor neighborhoods.
Much to some people's chagrin, Kathryn Wylde, the director of the
New York City Partnership, has taken on a leadership role in the coalition
against the budget cuts. She's been working side-by-side with advocates
who have spent years fighting Partnership housing because it doesn't
help the neediest New Yorkers. It's a credit to everyone involved in the
lobbying effort that they managed to overcome their internal differences
long enough to fight the first round of cuts.
N ow that city officials are promising to soften the budget blow slightly,
it's easy for groups in the coalition to start fighting among themselves
about how the ever-smaller pie will be divided. The larger policy
questions of how the city's money should be spent are vital-but they
must be put on hold until that money is securely in the budget. Until then,
some unholy alliances are entirely necessary. 0
Cover photograph by Isa Brito.

Down the Drain
Metering was meant to save water, but it threatens to
destroy community-controlled affordable housing. 10
Beyond Bricks and Mortar
The Banana Kelly community group in the South Bronx
is promoting "values clarification" within the organiza-
tion and among tenants. Are they meeting the needs of
the neighborhood-or invading people's privacy? 14
Unholy Alliance ....................................................... 2
Red Hook Wins .. ... ......... ..... ... ...... ..... .. ... .. .. ... ....... .. .. 4
Steisel Threat .......... .. ............................................... 4
AIDS Deadline ......................................................... 5
Our Bodies, Ourselves .. .. .... ........ ...... .. .......... .... .. .. .. . 6
Mutual Aid ............. .. ................................................ 8
Vital Statistics
Bare Necessities .......................................... .. ......... 20
Andrew Cuomo's Blunt Wedge ............................. 22
Review ... .... ............................. .... ...... .. ... ...... ... ........ ... 24
Letters ... ......... ...... ....... ..... ...... ................... ..... ..... .... ... 25
Job Ads ........ ........... ..................... ......... ..... ..... .... .. ...... 27
Our Bodies/Page 6
Drain/Page 10
Beyond Bricks/Page 14
Residents of Red Hook can
breathe a little easier after
defeating a plan by the city's
Deportment of Environmental
Protection (DEP) to build a nine-
acre sludge processing plant in
their neighborhood.
Red Hook is one of the poor-
est communities in Brooklyn,
and already carries a heavy
lood of industrial pollution.
More than a year ago, it was
listed as a proposed site for two
processing plants that would
help the city stop dumping
sewage sludge into the ocean.
plans for the first plant were
cancelled last fall and the city
withdrew its proposal for the
second plant last month after
fierce grassroots opposition.
''The plant would have been
the proverbial straw that broke
the camel's back," says John
McGettrick, co-chair of the Red
Hook Civic Association. "It
would have been an environ-
mental disaster." The mostly
black and Latino community has
22 waste transfer stations, a
container port, 1 petroleum-
related facilities, a deportment
of transportation incinerator,
chemical plants and storage
facilities for toxic waste, accord-
ing to Red Hook Citizens United
Against Sludge (RHCUAS), a
coolition of tenants and
The city's decision to cancel
the second plant was an-
nounced in front of 150 mem-
bers of RHCUAS, who gathered
at P.S. 27 to discuss strategies
for improving the neighbor-
hood. Officials say now that
they believe Red Hook has its
fair share of burdensome city
The plant was slated for the
site of the vacant Revere Sugar
Refinery on Beard Street, a few
blocks from the Red Hook Public
Housing Development, one of
the largest housing projects in
Brooklyn and home to more
than 10,000 people. A public
school and a library are also
nearby. The plant would have
increased traffic by 200 trucks
per day along neighborhood
streets already congested by
traffic from the Gowanus Ex-
pressway, which carries
150,000 cars and trucks daily.
In the post several years, seven
homes in the neighborhood
have collapsed from the vibra-
tions caused by the thunderous
truck traffic.
New York' s sewage sludge is
taken from the city's
sewage treatment plants by
barge and dumped more than
100 miles offshore. The federal
government has ruled that
ocean dumping must end by
July. One of DEP's proposed
alternatives is to turn the waste
by-product into fertilizer at
composting plants around the
five boroughs. Under DEP's
sludge plan, Red Hook would
have been the only sludge pro-
cessing site in Brooklyn.
Edna Mieles, co-chairperson
of the environment committee of
Community Board Six, says
community activists in the neigh-
borhood were fighting the con-
struction of a garbage transfer
station when they learned of
DEP's plan for the sludge
composting facilities. 'We de-
cided to join together the di -
verse elements of the community
to stop the dumping in Red
Hook," Mieles says.
But Red Hook' s victary could
spell trouble for a neighborhood
fUrther south along the Brooklyn
shoreline. The city is now con-
sidering locating the composting
plant at the Brooklyn Marine
Terminal in Sunset Park. City
Councilmember Joon Griffin
McCabe, who represents both
neighborhoods, is urging her
constituents in Red Hook to help
their neighbors fight the plant
with information and support.
Still, the satisfaction of vic-
tory cannot be dampened.
"Before the fight, we were quiet
and passive," soys Emma
Broughton, co-chair of the Red
Hook Civic Association. "Red
Hook has been heard, and
we' re not going to be dumped
on anymore. " 0 Albert
Deputy Mayor Norman
Steisel is threatening to central-
ize a" of the city's construction
efforts if there aren' t significant
improvements in the way city
agencies manage projects
within New York's $4 billion
capital budget.
In a recent memo sent to
agency commissioners, Steisel' s
threat follows his announcement
of a vast expansion in the au-
thority of the Mayor's Office of
Construction and its director,
Rudy Rinaldi, who is also com-
missioner of the Department of
Buildings. The aim of the
changes is to dramatically
reduce the amount of time it
takes to complete most govern-
ment construction projects.
Many of the city's construc-
tion projects have been mired in
delays for years. Some
recent failures include:
The Human Resources
Administration's $23 million
renovation of the Ho"and Hotel
for the homeless, which has
taken four years and still needs
millions of dollars worth of
repoirs because of shoddy
construction work;
The transportation deport-
ment' s reconstruction projects
on 14th Street, Eight Avenue
and 180th Street, which lost
$6.2 million in federal funding
because of construction and
management defects;
The Deportment of Envi-
ronmental Protection's planned
upgrade of the Newtown Creek
sewage treatment plant;
The renovation of 46
buildings in Central Harlem by
the Department of Housing
Preservation and Development.
Fo"owing the changes laid
out in Steisel' s memo, the Office
of Construction will go through
all of the agencies' management
procedures, create a standard-
ized, government-wide system
for every phase of construction
and development, and help
determine which projects are
best done in-house and which
should be contracted out. In the
post, the office's primary func-
tion was keeping track of
financing for capital projects.
The office will hire several new
staffers, officials say.
Rinaldi and others have
advocated consolidating all the
capital budget projects for
years. Last fall, City Council
Speaker Peter Vallone proposed
the same thing, arguing that the
diversity of contracting and
management methods among
all the agencies was costly and
inefficient. The mayor's current
effort to curtail the growth of the
city's debt service has brought
the issue to the fore, says build-
ings deportment spokesperson
Vahe Tiryakian.
The administration Rooted
the proposal in a poragraph
buried in the preliminary budget
released in January. But some
commissioners told Steisel that
they can better coordinate ser-
vices and contracts if they retain
complete control of their con-
struction prol'ects, according to
sources fami iar with the debate.
After meeting with the agency
heads, Steisel agreed to put off
the consolidation idea-for the
Some nonprofit housing
developers and managers fear
that the creation of a centralized
construction agency would
simply add another layer of
bureaucracy to contend with.
And Manahattan Borough
President Ruth Messinger is
cautious about the idea of tak-
ing control of construction away
from the agencies. "It's a boby
and bothwater issue," she says.
"We want the capocity to have
a city construction agency.
That's the boby. But the both-
water is to say no commissioner
should have the authority to do
capital construction ... That's
really looney." 0 Andrew
The clock is ticking: New
York City has two months to
spend $35.9 million in federal
money for AIDS programs or
risk cuts in future funding. The
deadline is self-imposed, and
is_part of an effort by city
officials to convince federal
bureaucrats that New York is
capable of properly disbursing
the funds, despite serious delays
last year.
The federal government
awarded the money to New
York last month. Earlier this
year, Dr. Billy Jones, chair of
the mayorally-appointed HIV
Planning Council, met with
federal officials and promised
the new money would be
allocated to service agencies
and organizations within 90
days of the award date in April.
Jones was trying to polish the
city's credibility, which was
tarnished by last year's spend-
ing delay: $33 million that
should have been handed out
last spring didn't begin to trickle
down to AIDS groups until
February, 1992.
The money is New York's
share of funding under the Ryan
White Comprenensive AIDS
Resources Emergency (CARE)
Act of 1990. The HIV Planning
Council is the city board
responsible for overseeing the
use of the funds. last month,
Mayor David Dinkins named
Jones head of the Health and
Hospitals Corporation, and Ron
Johnson took over as head of
the planning council.
While AIDS activists criticize
the city for last year's embor-
Privatlution Takes Its Toll: The city's Human Resources Administration
plans to fire more than 200 security officers who guard welfare offices
around the city. and replace them with guards from a private com-
pany. The city officers protested in front of the agency's Church Street
headquarters last month.
rassing and costly delays,
members of the planning council
find little to be defensive about.
"All of us wish it had happened
faster," says David Hansell,
deputy director for policy at
Gay Men's Health Crisis and a
member of the council. "But it
was very important that we
develop a process [for award-
ing contracts] that was fair and
New York City's $35.9
million award is the largest slice
ofa $119.4 million pie
apportioned among the 1 8
American cities with the highest
reported AIDS caseloods.
The city is in no danger of
losing its current award if it fails
to meet the 90-day target. In
fact, the city officially has until
March 31, 1993 to distribute
these second-year funds. But
part of each annual grant is
awarded on a
bosis, and federal officials
consider the promptness with
which the previous year's funds
were disbursed. New York lost
points because of the recent
contracting delays, officials say,
contributing to a $2.5 million
decrease in the city's compe-
titive grant this year.
Families in the NYC Shelter System
and Where They Stay
The 1992 Ryan White grants
amount to only a fraction of the
total authorized by Congress
when it passed the CARE Act in
1990. While the IElgislation calls
for up to $875 million per year
for five years, the actual
appropriation was only $221
million in year 1991,
$280 million in fiscal year
1992, and $307 million for
fiscal year 1993. Some portions
of the CARE Act have never
been funded, and are not likely
to be in the future.
= z
6,000 -r----r----r--,.---...,----.-----r--.....----,
3191 3It2
Source: NYC Human Resources Administration.
Number of families in
each type of shelter, 31'92:
Private ITlor 2'., 3,294
[] Donnitories ITlor 1'.,
Total Families:
As for New York, if the city
does not improve its track
record in implementing its
federally funded AIDS rro-
grams, it may find itsel with an
ever-diminishing share of the
already too-small CARE
appropriations. 0 Michael
cm UMITS/MA Y 1992/5
By Abby Scher
Our Bodies, Ourselves
The Women's Health Education Project teaches
holistic health in the city's shelter system.
he baby inside Rose's belly
kicks! Laughing with pleasure,
the expectant mother lifts up
her blouse to show her com-
panions, who watch as the small limbs
of the almost-due baby press against
the wall of her womb.
protect the identities of the battered
Rose offers that she needs to discuss
menstruation with her oldest daugh-
ter, who is 9, but she will instruct her
not to discuss it with her younger
old twin daughters are with her at the
shelter, and it is the first time in their
life she has had them on her own-her
mother undertook most of their care
and Elaine is not interested in having
any more children.
A Critical Approach
The determination and tenacity of
the women at the shelter to control
their own sexuality is the best testa-
ment to the importance of WHEP's
program. WHEP's goals are not to sim-
ply instruct women on proper health
care, but to help them
to be critical of the
information they re-
ceive, challenge doc-
tors on the treatment
they prescribe, and
look to holistic and
natural remedies that
they can obtain on
their own. In a soci-
ety where the poor-
est women and their
children rarely see
doctors except during
emergencies, preven-
tive practices and
natural remedies can
mean the difference
between chronic ill-
ness and health.
"The Black
The group of
women sitting on
mismatched chairs in
the dining room is
small-Maria, Rose
and Maggie, who all
live at the Women's
Survival Space, a
Brooklyn shelter for
battered women, who
come together for
meetings with the
Women's Health Edu-
cation Project
(WHEP). The shelter
houses up to 13
women and theirchil-
dren for as long as
three months, and it
is one of four shelters
in New York City
where WHEP holds
weekly sessions on
topics chosen by the
women themselves.
Women Helping Women: (from left) Mary Williams, Elizabeth Cintron, Regina Lindsey
and WHEP teacher Mary Ochoa at the Linden family shelter in Brooklyn.
Women's Health
Project is our inspira-
tion," says Burrill,
who has been an edu-
MotherlDaughter Relations
On the chilly spring daythatI joined
WHEP'sgroupatthe battered women's
shelter, they were watching a video
produced by the National Black
Women's Health Project on sexuality
and relations between mothers and
daughters. Issues discussed on screen
were echoed in conversations among
shelter residents-a woman in the
video expressed fear that as her daugh-
ter moved into the world on her own
she would be affected by the drug
culture. Upstairs at the shelter, a resi-
dent remained in her room to care for
her young son rather than send him
back to pre-school. The day before he
had brought home "new vocabulary"
learned from his classmates. Is this
the proper way to protect children,
the women wondered.
"She's got to learn to deal with it
now," says Maria, pregnant with her
third child. (First names are used to
sisters just yet. Unlike most other
women, whose children live with
them at the shelter, Rose's seven
children are in foster care. The courts
will allow her to reunite with them
only if she sets up a home away from
her abusive husband, whose anger
and blows fell on the children.
Just then, Elaine joins us, sleepy
but ready to talk. Maggie had woken
her up to make sure she wouldn't miss
the whole meeting. Jenny Burrill, the
WHEP program director running the
group, asks what topic the women
would like to discuss in future weeks,
and gynecological issues and women's
sexuality win out over parenting. Both
Rose and Maria want tubal ligations
after they give birth, and they want to
know more about the procedure.
"We as women should know our
bodies, because when I go to the doctor,
he goes, ' You need this and that,' and
I'm like, 'What are you talking
about!?'" Elaine says. Her four-year-
cator with WHEP for
three years. "We see health education
as a vehicle for developing commu-
nity, getting together to talk. It's more
a support group." The staff's ultimate
aim is to nurture and develop the
women's sense of their own power.
They also recognize the limits of their
"You can tell people their rights,
but if they end up in a bad hospital
really out of it, there's only so much
they can do on their own behalf," says
Stephanie Stevens, WHEP's current
director and one its founders. "But if
people can find out how to take care of
their own needs, the whole commu-
nity benefits. It ripples out im-
Making the Link
What makes WHEP unique is its
consistent presence in the shelters-
both a program leader and educator
go into each of the four shelters every
single week to conduct groups on top-
ics chosen by the women themselves.
Using one of New York's most exten-
sive Rolodexes of resources , the WHEP
staff links shelter residents to educa-
tors specializing in such topics as
AIDS awareness, stress management,
parenting skills and gynecological
care. They also prepare resource
guides and information booklets on
abortion and gynecology for the
women to take with them, and nego-
tiate with shelter staff members on
policy changes linked to health issues.
"The project seems fairly targeted.
They teach women how to access the
health system, and that they have
rights," says Denise Hylton, project
director for New York Connect, and a
member of the board of the North Star
Fund, which has given WHEP grants.
WHEP opened its doors in the
spring of 1989, one year after Stevens
organized a day of workshops on the
same model while working at the
Learning Alliance. Her organizing
savvy and self-taught fundraising
skills have kept WHEP going on a
shoestring budget of less than
$100,000 a year, and allowed WHEP
to develop beyond its original plan of
simply providing a network of educa-
tors. Stevens is leaving the organiza-
tion, and its board is searching for a
director with both fundraising and
organizing skills to ensure financial
Financial constraints prevent the
project from going into more shelters
but so does the inability of shelter
staff to meet certain minimum condi-
tions set by WHEP. The organization
asks that the staff support the project
by providing child care for the women
who attend and promising not to in-
tervene in workshops. They also re-
quest that the shelter facility have a
private room where the workshops
can be held. Some shelters can't, or
won't, cooperate.
Transience a Problem
WHEP's groups at the Linden and
Springfield Gardens family shelters
in Brooklyn and the Kingsbridge
women's shelter in the Bronx face
greater obstacles reaching women than
the one at Women's Survival Space.
While the battered women's shelter is
small and fairly cosy, shelters like
Kingsbridge house up to 80 women.
Attendance at WHEP meetings there
reaches 15 at times, but the discus-
sion can be unfocused. Educators must
work particularly hard to connect with
the women, who may suffer from
mental disabilities or other problems,
says Burrill. The transience of the
residents at Kingsbridge also influ-
ences the success of the group-the
women only stay about three weeks
before moving to dormitory-style
shelters. Shelter staff members are the
most consistent group participants and
"When I go to the
doctor, he goes,
'You need this and
that,' and I'm like,
'What are you
talking about?!'"
many women only come to one group.
Another element influencing
whether the workshops reach women
is whether residents associate WHEP
with the shelter managers and city
bureaucracy. At the shelter for fami-
lies in Springfield Gardens, a young
man wearing fringed leather wandered
into the WHEP meeting asking, "Do I
got to be here, is it required?" WHEP
program director Mary Williams had
asked the shelter staff to announce the
start of the session over the intercom,
but the tone of the announcement
suggested attendance was mandatory.
"I'm not required to do anything
but be Puerto Rican and die!" the
young man said, only half in jest.
Women at the meeting noted that some
residents avoid the group, thinking it
is one more way the shelter managers
try to discipline their behavior. At
Women's Survival Space, two resi-
dents reminded the others that the
meeting was starting, but at Spring-
field, that task fell to Williams and
two WHEP interns, who knocked on
residents' doors to invite new partici-
"I know just how they feel," said
Williams, a mother of five who has
been homeless twice in her life. "It
would unnerve me in the shelter I was
in when the guards told me to come
down. You're constantly on edge when
you're in a shelter situation. When I
was homeless, I didn't want no one
coming in from the suburbs to tell me
what to do."
Despite these obstacles, WHEP staff
are seeing the results of their work at
Linden, Kingsbridge and Springfield
Gardens. Linden women successfully
organized for more nutritious meals
and a new caterer with a petition
drive and letter writing campaign. At
a recent parenting workshop at
Kingsbridge , chemistry sparked
between the women and an educator
who demonstrated how to nurture
children by serving cookies and milk
and creating a party-like atmosphere.
One young pregnant woman at a recent
workshop on non-prescription drugs
at Springfield Gardens tentatively
asked about childbirth education
classes. "I don't really need it now, it's
too late," she said, and the WHEP
educator running the workshop and
another resident encouraged her to
find out more about what decisions
she could make before delivery.
When members of the workshops
demand rights and information that
they want, in a safe place where they
don't have to conform to the require-
ments of the city shelter or hospital
system, WHEP educators know
they've met their goals.
"We try to give them information
without someone coming in with a
condescending attitude," says
Williams. "You show them the door,
show them the steps and say, ' Honey.
go for it because I know you can do
it.'" 0
Abby Scher is a freelance writer living
in New York.
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CITY UM"S/MAY 1992/7
By Aaron Jaffe
Mutual Aid
Microenterprise loan programs demand that small
businesses rely on their peers.
Russian immigrant who worked
as a civil engineer in his home-
land can't get that kind of job in
the United States. He wants to
start his own cleaning business-
carpets and furniture and just about
anything else that customers ask him
to do. A man from EI Salvador
wants to buy an auto body
repair shop, so he can take
advantage of the years of ex-
perience he had back home.
Another woman, also from El
Salvador, makes dresses with
an old sewing machine in her
These are the people John
Waite wants to help.
Waite, director of the
micro enterprise program at
the Church Avenue Mer-
chants' Business Association
(CAMBA) in North Flatbush,
Brooklyn, says
microenterprises may be an
important part of helping
these and other small entre-
preneurs to escape poverty.
"Our purpose is to work
with these people who have
nowhere else to turn," he says.
Microenterprise loans are
a new phenomenon in the sea
of economic programs for
lower-income New York busi-
nesses. They're meant for
people who wouldn't nor-
mally be able to get a. bank
"These people are becoming entre-
preneurs not because they have an
M.B.A., but out of necessity," says
Delma Soto, executive director of
ACCION New York, a microenterprise
loan project based in Williamsburg,
Brooklyn. "I have an M.B.A. and I
international success with the model
is ACCION International, a 31-year-
old program based in Cambridge, Mas-
sachusetts. Working mostly in Latin
America, ACCION has about 100,000
clients and more than $55 million in
outstanding loans, with payment rates
of the same caliber as Grameen's. Now,
Soto is trying to make the ACCION
system work in New York City, with
funding from a combination of foun-
dations, banks and low-interest loans.
So far, ACCION New York has only
made loans to people whose busi-
nesses have been operating for at least
a year, even if they are as
small as a food cart on the
sidewalk. The organization
began distributing loans of up
to $2,000 in Williamsburg last
July 30, and by February 1, it
had loaned $73,400 to 36
people. So far, none of the
clients, who operate busi-
nesses like restaurants,
bodegas and food vans, have
defaulted on payments. The
loans are mainly used for
working capital, Soto says,
which could cover anything
from rent to light bills to more
plantains to basic repairs.
ACCION New York doesn't
ask for item by item account-
CAMBA's loan program is
still being hammered together,
and won't start handing out
money until later this month.
But Waite says he is already
meeting with prospective
clients. Not all of them are
Vi happy with the peer group
u:: idea. "We went into class-
~ rooms with Russians and
!ii some other ethnic groups,"
loan, would -be entrepreneurs
putting together small, labor-
intensive businesses with vir-
Under the EI: Williamsburg's Broadway, where small businesses are Waite says. "The response was
feeling the pinch of recession. mixed. Many people said, 'I
don't trust other people. I
tually no credit history, little
bookkeeping experience and very little
collateral. All they have to put up for
the money is their word-and the
word of three or four other would-be
entrepreneurs from the same commu-
That's the trick to microenterprise
loans-support groups made up of
four or five peers, each of them receiv-
ing a loan for their business and each
of them responsible for one another.
Instead of material collateral, the sys-
tem is based on honor and mutual
dependence. Its a way to help people
take care of themselves.
couldn't begin to do what some of
these people have done with the ob-
stacles they've had to overcome."
The Bangladesh Model
The best known model for the
method of peer-group loans is the
Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, which
started giving microenterprise loans
in 1977. A 98 percent repayment rate
on an average loan of just $67 opened
eyes in the United States, where pov-
erty in some neighborhoods is nearly
as bad as in some third-world nations.
The organization that has the most
don't want to have to depend
on other people and I don't want them
to have to depend on me.'"
These sentiments are echoed by
Soto. "In a place like Colombia, people
are more willing to participate in the
program and they're not as leery and
skeptical. In Latin America, you're
not dealing with the phenomenon of
people being locked behind their doors
and being petrified of everyone else.
You can't just walk into someone's
store (in New York) and tell them this
is what you're doing and this is who
you are because they don't know
whether to b e l i e v ~ you."
Doubting the Neighbors
Many small business people in
Williamsburg have the same doubts.
Simon Espinal has seen the comings
and goings under the elevated tracks
along Williamsburg's Broadway for
nine years. That's how long he's owned
the Espinal Mini-Market, which sells
everything from mammoth-sized
bottles of malt liquor to rolling papers,
diapers, detergent and cookies.
Espinal says the business climate has
worsened in Williamsburg in the last
few years. "Business is bad. A lot of
people aren't working and the factories
have moved out of here."
Espinal spends $1,550 a month in
rent for his small store, twice what he
paid in 1984. He's breaking even,
barely, he says. But the dire straits of
some of his neighbors make him
wonder if a peer group makes sense.
Carlos Guanta, who's owned a pizza
restaurant down the block for two
months, agrees. "What if the other
business [in the peer group] fails?" he
But Jeff Stern of the Local Develop-
ment Corporation of East New York
sees it differently. He's working with
the East Williamsburg Valley Indus-
trial Development Corporation to start
a microenterprise program with part
of a $200,000 grant the groups received
from the state Urban Development
Corporation. The peer groups "provide
stronger ties so people don't take the
money and run," says Stern. "It
minimizes risk."
Minimizing risk is definitely impor-
tant to CAMBA's Waite, who works
primarily with immigrants from
Southeast Asia, Russia and Eastern
Europe, along with immigrants from
the Caribbean Islands and Latin
America. Many of his clients don't
have a good credit history. Another
problem, he says, is that many of them
are recognized by the government as
political refugees from their home-
lands, meaning they automatically
qualify for public assistance a month
after arriving. "Some of them get used
to it," he says.
News of the international success
of microenterprise programs has at-
tracted attention at the federal level,
where two bills supporting the model
are winding their way through the
house. Rep. Tony Hall (Democrat,
Ohio), the chairman of the House Se-
lect Committee on Hunger, introduced
the "Freedom From Want Act" last
May. Part of the bill seeks to expand
current employment and training
projects to include microenterprises,
making it easier for people on welfare
to start businesses without having their
benefits curtailed.
Stafford, an associate professor at New
York University's Robert F. Wagner
School of Public Service and a member
of the board of the city's Economic
Development Corporation. "Micro-
enterprises are not a panacea by them-
selves." 0
Labor experts say microenterprises
are far from the complete answer to
poorentrepreneurs'fiscal woes. "They
have to work with other things like
revolving loan programs-a whole
package of programs," says Walter
Aaron Jaffe is a reporter for the Asian
Wall Street Journal Weekly
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em UMITS/MA Y 1992/9
Down the Drain
Metering was meant to save water, but it threatens to destroy
community-controlled affordable housing.
t's nothing more than a little gray box with dials and
numbers that began appearing on the basement walls of
apartment buildings across New York City a few years
ago. The men and women that installed it had only the
best of intentions: conserving New York's water sup-
ply. But the water meter is changing the way New Yorkers
pay for one of their most basic commodities, and it
promises to wreak havoc for low-income housing across
the five boroughs.
Water meters are part of the city's grand solution to an
unrelenting crisis: upstate reservoirs are currently one-
third below capacity, and New York
City is threatened with its fourth
drought emergency in 10 years.
That's only part of the water prob-
lem in this town; at the other end of
the pipeline, after the toilets flush
and the storm drains overflow, the
city's sewage treatment plants are
so overburdened that the city must
cut illegal discharges into the
Hudson and East rivers-or face
fines and contempt charges in civil
By billing consumers for the wa-
ter they actually use, instead of a
flat-rate estimate as in the past, the
city hopes to dramatically cut the
amount of water flowing through the system. Logically, a
consumer charged for actual use is more likely to use less
water and thus save money . .!3ut the conservation program
is displaying a nasty side effect that city officials are only
beginning to recognize. While the new meter-based billing
method cuts water and sewer bills for many New York City
apartment houses, the cost of those services in densely-
packed low-income housing is becoming astronomical.
"There is a fundamental inequity in this," says David
Steinglass of the Community Housing Association of
Managers and Producers (CHAMP), a group of commu-
nity-based housing providers. "It's all wrong," he says.
"The more people in your apartment, the more water you
use, period. It's a head tax."
Steinglass and other affordable housing advocates ar-
gue that water and sewer charges are a regressive tax,
falling disproportionately on the poor and the homebound
and threatening to undermine years of work spent assem-
bling a still-small stock of community-controlled afford-
able housing.
"This could be the last nail in the coffin," says Dalma
Delarosa, president of the Northwest Bronx Community
and Clergy Coalition, which works to preserve and develop
low-income housing. If the water authorities don't do
something soon, she says, "Our buildings will go down the
drain. We'll have to forfeit them to the city. I see no other
Years of Drought
For now, the city is giving building owners a temporary
break from laying the meter-based bills, allowing them to
pay the 01 ,estimated charges instead for the first year
after meters are installed. But water rates in general have
doubled in the last five years, partly to cover the cost of the
extensive conservation and maintenance effort that began
in 1986 following two successive
years of drought. So even the old-
style estimated bills are putting a
strain on the budgets of low-in-
come cooperatives and nonprofit-
owned and managed buildings.
But affordable housing advocates
point to evidence that metering will
only make it worse. They are
demanding permanent changes to
guarantee that poor people don't
end up footing the conservation
They argue that plumbing is
fundamentally different from wir-
ing and gas piping, and can't be
metered the same way. For one
thing, it's impossible to measure use in every apartment-
only whole buildings can be metered, so those who con-
serve subsidize those who don't. Besides, old plumbing
often leaks, and most poor people live in old buildings.
People without jobs-whether they are retired, disabled
or single parents-spend more time at home, running
water, taking showers, flushing toilets. And many poor
New Yorkers live in apartments with numerous family
members and relatives. The more people in an apartment,
the more water goes down the drain.
The different conclusions reached by two recent stud-
ies underline the inequities of metering and water rate
increases. One, by the plumbing industry, showed that the
"average" New York apartment building can cut its water
bill in half by installing a water meter. But the plumbers
were looking at buildings of every income level. Mean-
while, Irene Baldwin of the University Neighborhood
Housing Program (UNHP), which helps to develop
affordable housing for Bronx families, gathered data on
exclusively low income buildings, both metered and
unmetered, and found an average increase of about 33
percent in water charges from 1990 to 1991. -
~ I
Breaking Budgets: Mercedes White and her neighbors outside their low income cooperative in the Bronx. Their water bill went up more than 50
percent last year. They expect next year's to be even higher.
"You're going to find that a building in Manhattan, all
singles and couples, their bills will go down," says Jim
Buckley of UNHP. "In those buildings people get home
late at night, they clear out for the weekend," he says. "But
buildings like ours that have families, that's not so."
360 Percent Increase
One building in Buckley's program, 824 East 181st
street, recently received meter-based water and sewer bills
totalling $12,794 for a five month period in 1991. The
water and sewer bill for the entire previous year, 1990, was
calculated on the old frontage formula and came to only
$6,666. That's a 360 percent increase in one year.
A few years ago, the building was derelict, vacant and
owned by the city. With funding from the Enterprise
Foundation, the city and other sources, Bronx United In
Leveraging Dollars (BUILD), a community housing group,
renovated the shell and created 31 rent-stabilized apart-
ments with monthly rents ranging from $215 to $383. The
total rent roll is only $9,200 a month. Jim Mitchell, director
of BUILD, says his budget based on that rent roll cannot be
stretched to cover such a huge water payment. Like other
subsidized projects, the building has a special reserve
fund, but that fund is not going to cover many years worth
of such huge bills. "I don't know where else we can look,"
Mitchell says. "It's a matter of fact that if we don't pay the
bills we'll go on an in rem list," he adds, referring to the
city's list of delinquent taxpayers, "and eventually the city
will get the building back."
Mitchell's experience is not uncommon. One newly-
renovated, 64-apartment complex for formerly homeless
and low-income seniors and families on the Lower East
Side paid 170 percent more than had been budgeted last
year on its water bill. Lee Chong of Asian Americans for
Equality, which manages the property, says the budget
was based on a city housing department analysis of pre vi-
ous water bills. But it was miles offbase. "Obviously it will
get higher and higher," she says. "These are people who
are at home flushing toilets all day. I'm worried in the long
run. Income will not keep up with these bills."
Grace Period
While city officials deny the charges are as regressive as
advocates claim, they admit there's a problem. And to
ease the transition to meters, and hel p owners and managers
figure out how to conserve water, the city's Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP) has offered ratepayers a
one year grace period during which they can choose to pay
their bill based on the old estimate system.
The city says it has no choice but to push ahead with
conservation efforts. Assistant Commissioner Steven
Ostrega of DEP insists that increases in meter-based water
bills can be reduced by installing toilets and showerheads
designed to cut water use. He adds that landlords must
make regular inspections for leaks to keep their bills
under control. In response to complaints, his department
is seeking approval from the city's mayorally-appointed
Water Board, which regulates the rate system, to extend
the grace period on meter-based bills to two years, or three
years if owners install the conserving fixtures. He hopes
to create a rebate program to encourage owners to install
the least-wasteful toilets available.
But Ostrega downplays the criticism from affordable
housing advocates. "This is a small number of people
making it sound like the world is caving in," he says. Even
so, he agrees that buildings where more than four people
live in most apartments will see their bills as much as
double under the metering system. And he says the city
should find a better way to ease the burden. That doesn't
change his essential message, though. "Conservation has
to catch on," he says. "This is nothing compared to what
it'll cost if we have to build new reservoirs and new
treatment plants."
Housing advocates don't deny that conservation is
necessary. But they have proposed some methods to
reduce the impact, including passing some of the cost of
the water infrastructure into the city's property tax base.
As it now stands, ratepayers' bills cover the operating
costs of the system as well as the debt service on money
borrowed to pay for its expansion and repair.
Andy Reicher of the Urban Homesteading Assistance
Board supports legislation to create a cheaper water rate
for low-income buildings. He proposes a rate scale that
makes conservative use cheap for everyone, and wasteful
use expensive for everyone. But buildings filled with low-
income families should be given a special, extra-cheap
rate for a reasonable amount of water, based on the number
of people in the building. If they use more than that, they
would get socked with a high rate; if they don't, their water
bills would stay very low.
Double Taxation
But until some kind of solution is worked out, housing
controlled by nonprofits and cooperatives is not the only
sore spot. Unregulated tenants of for-profit landlords in
old dilapidated buildings are finding that higher water
and sewer charges translate into higher rents. And owners
of rent-stabilized buildings are pressuring rent regulators
to authorize rent increases greater than the four percent
allowed last year.
ada Friedheim, a tenant advocate on the Rent Guide-
lines Board, which determines annual allowable increases
on rent regulated properties, says owners' groups want the
authority to pass along the increased cost of water and
sewer charges to their tenants. She says the board isn't
likely to allow owners to charge tenants directly for the
water and sewer costs. Instead, "It's becoming a fig leaf
behind which you do all kinds of other things," she says.
"It adds to the hysteria behind raising the guidelines
themselves. "
Friedheim and other tenant advocates point out that
leaks and decrepit plumbing systems are a common prob-
lem that landlords often ignore. Charging tenants for the
expense of water would amount to a double tax, she says-
they already have to tolerate the water damage from pipe
leaks in ceilings and walls; soon they may have to pay for
the wasted water as well.
Yet the most precarious buildings are the ones owned
and managed by low-income families themselves-the
limited-equity cooperatives created by tenant associa-
tions in formerly city-owned buildings. Tenants pur-
chased 2131 Clinton Avenue, a 31-unit building in the
Tremont section of the Bronx, from the city on June 14,
1991, and nearly every apartment houses a family with
children. Mercedes White, president of the cooperative,
says the city did a lot of major repairs before the closing.
But the co-op is currently spending its monthly mainte-
nance fees on repairs inside apartments so their residents
can qualify for federal rent subsidies.
This winter, 2131 Clinton Avenue received a meter-
based water and sewer charge of $15,091, covering a 14-
month period. The frontage-based estimate for the same
period would have been $9,380, according to DEP. This
time around, White is confident they can pay the bill. "I
think we can make it," she says. But if a bill of that size
comes around next year, the budget could come close to
the breaking point.
"I've worked that building since day one," she says. "I
don't want to have done all that for nothing." 0
Bill Lipton is a housing coordinator at the Urban Home-
steading Assistance Board.
Privatizing the Water System-In Name Only
Skittish politicians playing games with paper slipped
an expensive mickey to the public when they pri vatized
the city's water and sewer system in the mid-1980s,
critics say. And they may have a point, since water rates
have soared ever since.
During the mid-1980s, a series oflegal maneuverings
separated the funding of water and sewers from the
city's tax base, removing responsibility over rate setting
from elected officials. The water supply system had
become so decrepit, and the need for expanded sewage
treatment capacity so pressing, that city officials de-
cided an independent authority could finance the work
more efficiently than the city.
They also decided the cost of the work should be
paid for with bonds, and the debt incurred would be
covered by water rates, not general taxes. In 1985, state
legislators created the New York City Water Finance
Authority to sell the bonds, and the New York City
Water Board to set the rates. Technically, the mayorally-
appointed, seven member Water Board also owns the
system, leasing it back to the city, and contracting with
the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for
its operation.
Peter Judd, a former DEP official whose recent report
12/MAY 1992/CITY UMrrs
"More Expensive than Oil" summarizes the burden of
the increasing water rates on low-income housing, says
the mid-1980s reformation of the system were "paper
steps having no effect on the operation of the system
except for one key element: rate setting was removed
from elected officials to an appointed board."
And, as Judd and Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman
argue, the board is not accountable to the public. That
lack of accountability in rate setting has led to higher
rates and inefficient services, Holtzman says. She points
out that "DEP has little incentive to control costs
because rates charged to the public are automatically
set to cover expenses."
Judd also criticizes the city government for paying
less than it should for the water it uses. The city's
payments to the Water Board are "ludicrously dispro-
portionate" to what a private owner would pay for the
same amount of water that city-owned housing, hospi-
tals, offices and other facilities actually consume, he
writes. While the city "privatized" the system, it still
retains enough control to cut itself a deal. The result is
that instead of the city raising taxes to pay for its actual
water consumption, the rest of us pick up the tab on our
water and sewer bills. Bill Upton
Kelly Street, 1992
Beyond Bricks
and Mortar
The Banana Kelly community group in the South Bronx is promoting
"values clarification" within the organization and among tenants. Are they meeting
the needs of the neighborhood-or invading people's privacy?
rom the outside, 800 Fox Street looks like almost
any other building managed by the Banana Kelly
community group in the South Bronx. The bricks
are scrubbed clean, there's a secure lock on the
front door and gray metal mailboxes in the hallway.
What makes the building unique is the tenants inside:
18 formerly homeless families who have been through a
lengthy, therapy-style "values clarification" program that
is now being used in all Banana Kelly buildings.
When the tenants moved into 800 Fox Street, they
signed a special rider to their lease. In no uncertain terms,
they promised to attend tenant meetings, help maintain
their building and spend at least eight hours a week
improving their lives-or risk eviction.
The "tough love" lease at 800 Fox Street is a clear
illustration of the changes occurring at the Banana Kelly
Community Improvement Association. Started 15 years
ago on a banana-shaped section of Kelly Street, the group
began as a struggling urban homesteading effort. Today
it's a $7 million, 100-employee community development
corporation that manages 26 buildings with more than
1,000 tenants.
Across the city, other community groups followed
similar paths during the 1980s, winning government con-
tracts and corporate support to rebuild the city's decrepit
housing stock. They became housing developers and
managers, and they've responded in a variety of ways to
their landlording tasks in troubled neighborhoods. At
Banana Kelly, the organization is getting closely involved
in the personal lives of tenants-even though many people
say this is way out of bounds for any landlord, even one
with deep roots in the community.
All of Banana Kelly's buildings now have a lease rider
similar to the one at 800 Fox Street, and tenants are also
expected to attend meetings with Banana Kelly staff to
discuss community values and implement those values in
their life, according to Yolanda Rivera, the organization's
acting director.
"We're living in a time when we need each other like
when we were born," she says. "I really believe commu-
nity development corporations are important. We're the
only vehicle there is to help people integrate into society."
"We're saying let's take control of the only thing we can
control-ourselves," adds Aureo Cardona, a vice presi-
dent at the National Center for Housing Management, a
Washington, D.C. group that helped Banana Kelly devise
its new approach.
After a decade devel-
oping affordable housing,
this is a major transition
for Banana Kelly-and
community advocates
across the city are only be-
ginning to come to terms
with the change. Some say
it's a pragmatic and com-
passionate attempt to build
a sense of community in
an area hard hit by un-
employment, homeless-
ness, drug abuse and
violence. But others say the
new focus avoids dealing
with how society causes
many of those problems
and borders on "thought
control" of a vulnerable
buildings and fix them up
on their own. They fol-
lowed in the footsteps of
the Harlem Renegades and
the People's Development
Corporation, two once-
prominent groups that
helped create the concept
of urban homesteading in
the 1970s.
From these early days,
Banana Kelly has grown,
winning millions of dollars
worth of government con-
tracts, employing scores of
local residents and re-
building much of the im-
mediate neighborhood.
Along the way, the group's
relationship with the com-
munity changed.
If there's any point of
agr.eement, it's that Banana
Kelly's efforts are part of a
growing national trend
promoting individual
responsibility among the
poor. Like welfare reform
and attempts to sell public
housing to tenants, it's an
ideological chameleon that
In Transition: Banana Kelly staff members on Fox Street. Yolanda Rivera,
the acting director, is standing in the front near the middle, wearing a
"At one time they were
seen as a beacon, as trail-
blazers," says John Robert,
the district manager of the
local community board.
"But now we get com-
plaints at our community
board meetings about how
they manage some of their
buildings. There's a gradual
confounds the traditional boundaries of conservative and
liberal social policy.
nly 15 years old, Banana Kelly is one of the most
famous community groups in America. Its accom-
plishments have been touted on public television,
applauded in the pages of the Wall Street Journal
and held up as an inspirational model of urban success.
It all started on Kelly Street with the Potts family. Like
many working class blacks, they moved to New York from
the south in the 1950s and ended up unhappy in an
overcrowded tenement. But by 1963 they scraped together
$3,000 to make a small down-payment on an apartment
building on Kelly Street. Frank Potts fixed up the building,
rented the apartments and eventually bought four more
and managed another, keeping a close eye on the block.
But by the mid-1970s the South Bronx was burning. The
recession sparked a cycle of abandonment and arson and
entire blocks went up in flames.
On Keily Street, the city took over three abandoned
buildings and announced plans to demolish them. Leon
Potts, Frank's son, played basketball with a local social
worker, Harry DeRienzo, and they discussed their fears
that if three buildings were dynamited, it would be the
beginning of the end for the block. They set out to mobilize
the neighborhood, putting up signs that summed up their
goal: "Don't Move, Improve!"
Working with about 30 neighbors, the activists started
small, cleaning out the rubble from a vacant lot and
transforming it into a community garden. But then they
decided to defy the city and take over the abandoned
decay of confidence.
Certainly they're seen as part ofthe establishment .. . there's
a perception that Banana Kelly acts for Banana Kelly's
sake rather than for the community's sake."
Walking along Kelly Street and through the surround-
ing neighborhoo'd, it's hard to measure whether that per-
ception is widespread. On every sidewalk, and in every
graffiti-strewn entranceway, people express different
opinions: respect for the community organization that
fixed up the buildings, derision and complaints for the
landlord that ignores tenant complaints. These divergent
views are mirrored by the surrounding landscape. Murals
enliven the sides of buildings, there's a wide, green p ~ k
with a baseball diamond, and block after block of new-
looking brownstones, tenements, and townhouses. But
Banco Central of New York is shuttered, and the area is
pockmarked by fields of brick, glass, refrigerator carcasses,
tin cans and crack vials.
Walking past one of these lots, a group of six teenage
girls push each other, giggling, jostling, gossiping. One
points to the other and shouts for the entire street to hear:
"You're an industrial strength drug dealer!" Drug deals
take place in this neighborhood in broad daylight-a
constant reminder of the challenges still facing Banana
he preface to an outline of Banana Kelly's new
Family and Community Enrichment (FACE) program
reads, "We are not doomed to pain and suffering.
We can change what we do now by seeing that life
is in our hands. No matter how hard this is to admit, we
choose our misery and make it a way of life or choose to
gain strength to make better choices and lead a more
satisfying life."
Helping people caught in poverty change their lives is
no easy task. But that's exactly the aim of the FACE
program, a three-step program that sounds a lot like group
therapy. It's designed to accentuate the role of social
values in every day life. In the first step, a Banana Kelly
staff person meets with tenants and they trace whether or
not their behavior mirrors their values. In the second
phase, the staff person rejects behavior that is considered
irresponsible, and introduces the idea that people need to
plan, act and reflect to make change meaningful. In the last
phase, the staff person works with groups or individuals
to help them define and achieve their goals for change-
in their personal life and in the community.
"The whole idea .. .is about helping people identify the
tools they need to make it through the day and the rest of
their life," says Carlos Permell, the 25-year-old director of
the Family and Community Enrichment program. "This is
about rebuilding community and looking out for one
another, about caring. It's primarily about love."
The most tangible aspect of the new program is Banana
Kelly's lease rider, which requires tenants to spend eight
hours a week improving their life and contributing to the
community. Tenants can meet their commitment through
working, studying, taking part in job-training, drug or
alcohol treatment or providing community service.
Yolanda Rivera, the acting director at Banana Kelly,
says the reality of life in the South Bronx makes values
clarification necessary-families and schools are failing
miserably and it's up to Banana Kelly to step into the fray.
Although this can sound paternalistic, Rivera insists that
the new approach empowers tenants by weaning them off
their dependency on welfare
and social services. The most
powerful role of a community
development corporation is to
protect people from social ser-
vice providers, the educational
and mental health systems and
their concepts for promoting
change, she says. "We teach
people, 'Don't buy into that
stuff! Reach into yourself for
the answers!"
he move toward instilling values-oriented action
among tenants is a recent phenomenon at Banana
Kelly. Yolanda Rivera has only been in charge for a
year, taking over from Getz Obstfeld, who was
director from 1982 to 1991. The two have vastly different
styles, which underscore where Banana Kelly has come
from and where it is heading.
Raised in Brooklyn, Obstfeld dropped out of college
and joined the urban homesteading movement in the
1970s. Under his direction, Banana Kelly grew into a mini-
empire of management and construction services, teenage
education projects and a host of government-funded hous-
ing development programs. But members ofBananaKelly's
board of directors say Obstfeld wasn't equally skilled at
sharing power, which dampened staff morale. There was
also resentment that a white man was running a commu-
nity group in a black and Latino neighborhood, leading
some board members to try and oust him in the mid-1980s.
Rivera was on the board at the time, and says she didn't
support the effort to dismiss Obstfeld. But the conflict
focused her attention on the neighborhood and prompted
her to become chairperson of the board and, eventually,
acting director.
Rivera was brought up in the South Bronx in a building
that the landlord abandoned and the tenants now own.
She's worked for a social service agency in Hunt's Point
and served as a mediator in the housing court of Connecti-
When Rivera took over the leadership of Banana Kelly,
she began to explore the organization's relationship with
the community. She knew Aureo Cardona, who used to
work in the South Bronx, and hired the National Center for
Housing Management (NCHM), as a consultant. Created in
1972, NCHM is the brainchild
of Roger Stevens, a former
Polaroid executive who has
adapted corporate theories to
housing management (See
NCHM helped design the
values-based training program
for 800 Fox Street. They also
took the Banana Kelly staff
through an internal process of
values clarification. By all ac-
counts, it was a painful ordeal.
"I put the whole organization
through some internal soul-
searching," Rivera says with a
rueful laugh. "We're still recov-
ering!" The pricetag for NCHM's
services? About $120,000.
Once the Banana Kelly staff
and the tenants at 800 Fox Street
completed the NCHM program,
Rivera decided to modify it
somewhat and try it with the
rest of the organization's ten-
ants. This was the genesis of the
FACE program.
Once basic community
values are instilled, Rivera says
Banana Kelly steps away, re-
specting tenants' ability to act
on those values in the outside
community. If a group of ten-
ants decide they want to get rid
of drugs on their block or bring
in a new day care center, Ba-
nana Kelly will provide advice
or support. But there are no
paid community organizers on
staff to lead the effort. Why?
Because that also fosters de-
pendency, according to Rivera.
"I believe dependency is a form
of slavery," she says. "We have
to check our own behavior to
make sure we're not perpetrat-
ing what we want to stop."
Homebuilders: Lorena Cruz in her homesteading building on
Fox Street.
The program is still so new
that its impact on tenants is
hard to discern. Many of them
still talk about Banana Kelly the
same way they would talk about
any landlord. Others have strong
feelings about their landlord's
new methods of community and
personal improvement.
Lorena Cruz is the president
of the cooperative board at a
string of newly-renovated
homesteading buildings that
stretch from 811 to 827 Fox
Street. Sitting in her spacious
new living room, she says Ba-
nana Kelly is co-managing the
building and she sometimes has
to prod staffers for documents
or assistance, but she doesn't
mention the new philosophy at
in. "Each one of my kids has
their own bedroom," she says.
"You can't beat something like
report commissioned by
the National Center for
Housing Management on
the training program at
800 Fox Street offers a vivid
account oftwo years of struggle.
Despite rigorous screening for
tenants, there have been prob-
lems with drug abuse, domes-
tic violence, racism and resent-
ment between neighbors. But
even with all ofthese problems,
advocates in New York and
across the country have widely
varying opinions about whether
a community group managing
buildings should impose a set
of values on their tenants.
Around the corner at 783
Beck Street, the building looks
clean on the outside but one
step through the front door and
there's graffiti sprayed across
the hallways. "As long as I've
lived here I felt they did a very
poor job as far as the upkeep of
the building," says Elizabeth
Hughes, treasurer of the
building's tenant association.
Clara Solomon, the vice presi-
Maintenance Problems: Clara Solomon and Charles Thompson
at 783 Beck Street.
Some express support for the
general idea. "There's a need
for work on values at all lev-
dent, adds, "They took me to court 99 times. If I was a
dollar behind they would have me in court."
But Charles Thompson, the president of the tenant
association, is enrolled in a leadership development pro-
gram run by Banana Kelly and the Coro Foundation. He
knows about the new approach. "They're helping us come
up with different ways to help ourselves," he says. "From
what I see now, Banana Kelly is reaching out to us. They
can't take you out of all the chaos you're in but they're
lending a hand. I used to be one of the fellas hanging out
in front of the building drinking a quart of beer. I know
they're helping me. In a way, that could benefit them, but
I'm trying to keep my eyes open."
Inside 800 Fox Street, Lourdes Rivera lives in a second
floor apartment and knows all about the values-based
training. "At first it was wonderful but then it changed,"
she says. "Banana Kelly and the tenants couldn't work
things out. We signed a contract before we moved in that
said we had to go to tenant meetings. For them if you didn't
come it was like breaking the law because you were
breaking the contract. Then reople started to back up, a lot
of tenants were saying, 'WeI, I don't care, you can do what
you want, and I'll do what I want.' They pushed our
buttons .. .it always had to be their way."
Her upstairs neighbor, Cynthia Burrell, adds, "We went
on a retreat when we first moved in about what Banana
Kelly can do for you and what you can do for Banana Kelly.
It was very good. All of the families in here were home-
less-when you get out of a situation like that you can lose
your values." Speaking of her own situation, she says,
"When I was homeless, I didn't stop. I was in college, I kept
my kids active, I wasn't lost."
Asked to name the best part of the Banana Kelly pro-
gram, she doesn't mention any of the orientation sessions,
the tenant meetings or the values-setting concepts. In-
stead, she looks around her at the apartment she's sitting
els," says Andy Mott, a staff
member at the Center for Community Change in Washing-
ton, D.C. Returning from a conference on families, he says,
"One of the themes at the conference was the African
proverb that it takes a whole village to raise a child. That's
the reason why the whole community should be con-
cerned about everyone's values."
But is so-called "values clarification" the appropriate
role for an organization that could use personal informa-
tion gleaned in the process to evict tenants in housing
court? ''I'm not sure the landlord should be doing this ... but
these are not landlords in the traditional sense," notes Ron
Shiffman, the director of the Pratt Center for Community
and Environmental Development, which has provided
advice for community-based housing groups across the
He adds, "I"m concerned that all of this shifts respon-
sibility to families and individuals and blames the victim
rather than societal inequities. But I think you can build
self sufficiency and self reliance without doing it in a
reactionary way. I've always been a pragmatist. Groups are
running into a lot of problems with the homeless, with
drugs. You have to address these issues."
The method a group uses to deal with intractable
problems can become the source of contention. "The
desire to intervene effectively and help people help each
other can turn into intrusiveness. Groups and advocates
have to be sensitive to where that line is," adds Stephen
Norman, a former city official who set up a number of
homeless housing programs and is now a vice president at
the Corporation for Supportive Housing.
Many advocates draw the line a long way away from
people's personal lives, preferring to fight neighborhood
problems instead. "I don't think any organization has the
right to impose their view of how other people should act
on tenants in housing they manage," states Anne
Pasmanick, the director of the School for Housing
In off-the-record interviews, many people involved in
community-based housing echo Pasmanick, but only
Abdur Rahman Farrakhan, the director of the Oceanhill
Brownsville Tenants Association, is willing to speak pub-
licly against his peers. "To me, it's just a bunch of crap."
he says. "They have an addendum to their lease which
says you have to do this or that. Well , you can't say you
have a participatory democracy and then design some-
thing and give it to people. I find that offensive."
The range of opinion reflects a raging debate about the
causes and cures for poverty. Like the great divide be-
tween church and state in American society, there's a
similar barrier between those who think the government
creates poverty and those who blame poor people them-
selves. Yolanda Rivera tries to straddle these points of
view, calling for better schools and government-subsi-
dized housing in the South Bronx-but also demanding
changes in the behavior of her staff and the tenants in
Banana Kelly buildings.
Is she blaming the victim, imposing social control? No,
she replies adamantly. "I look at this as what naturally
occurs among neighbors and people who care for each
other. And frankly, I don't care what outsiders thinkofit."
But when push comes to shove, Rivera concedes that a
community development group can't take the place of the
police, the court system and the laws that are meant to
reflect the values of society. Referring to the lease rider,
she says, "A contract is a contract. We believe it could be
enforceable." Then she backs up: "Have we ever litigated
it? No. Is it enforced? We' ve never tried to enforce it-
except among each other." D
Controversial Contract
Behind many of the changes at Banana Kelly are
concepts promoted by the National Center for Housing
Management (NCHM), a nonprofit group based in Wash-
ington, D.C. The National Center is currently working
with about 30 community-based housing groups in
New York as part of a strife-ridden training program
funded by Banker's Trust and the Uris Foundation.
The two funders feared that community groups tak-
ing control of newly-renovated city buildings filled
with formerly homeless families might become over-
whelmed by their new responsibilities. They decided
to look for a consultant that could provide the commu-
nity groups with training sessions and seminars in
property management, organizational development and
ways to combine social services with property manage-
After setting up a steering committee that included
city officials and community advocates, they awarded
a two-year, $200,000 training contract to NCHM.
Established in 1972 through a decree by then-Presi-
dent Richard Nixon, NCHM is best known for training
and certifying housing managers. But they also have a
unique approach to working with tenants.
Instead of blaming the government, the system or
"the man," NCHM expects poor people to examine
their own values and behavior, according to the
organization's vice president, Aureo Cardona. Cardona
used to be president of the South Bronx Community
Management Corporation, which has ties to poverty
czar Ramon Velez.
"We want masses of people to be thinking about
where they are in life and how they can immediately
better their conditions," Cardona says.
In New York, the NCHM training contract with
community groups had a haphazard start. Some groups
didn't take part in training sessions because they didn't
like the sound of NCHM's philosophy. There were also
other problems.
Nonetheless, Gary Hattem, a vice president at Banker's
Trust who used to run the St. Nicholas Neighborhood
Preservation Corporation in Brooklyn, defends the de-
cision to hire NCHM, while also admitting that he has
some qualms about the group.
"All of us who selected NCHM had a lot of problems
with their rhetoric," he adds. "It can be a bit ESTish and
sound canned, but we had respect for the groups-we
figured they would filter out what they didn't buy into,
and a lot of groups did find something of benefit."
Jeanette Puryear, the director of the Mid-Bronx Se-
nior Citizens Council, is serving as the president of the
coalition of groups taking part in the NCHM training.
"There's a range of opinion-most groups who at-
tended the NCHM training found it very useful," she
says, noting that her own staff found value in the nuts
and bolts advice on property management.
However, she adds that some groups stayed away
from the training sessions because they didn't like the
sound of NCHM's "tenant empowerment" strategy.
"That's the piece a lot of us have mixed feelings about,"
she says. "But there's a real issue here about how
tenants can take responsibility for their environment
and the surrounding community-some of it has to
come from within."
One of the groups that pulled out of the training
sessions was the Oceanhill Brownsville Tenants Asso-
ciation. "I think it's a loose class in self actualization,"
says Abdur Rahman Farrakhan, the group's director.
"It's juvenile and condescending."
Frances Barrett, the director of the Community Re-
sources Exchange (CRE), which provides fundraising
and organization-building advice for nonprofits, has
another perspective. Her organization was a top con-
tender for the training contract that NCHM won. At one
point, the funders considered splitting the contract
between CRE and NCHM, but Barrett says that after she
talked with NCHM staff members she decided she'd
rather compete with them than work side-by-side.
Their philosophies mixed like oil and water.
"I see the housing problems of New York having
more to do with the vacancy rate than values clarifica-
tion," she says. "The bottom line is: whose values? It
seems to me you risk exploiting a person's need for
housing-holding up your help as hostage for a defined
lifestyle. It just feels wrong." Lisa Glazer
eitv Limirs eitv Limirs
Starting Small
Fighting Incin&ralion (rom the School.
and Public Housing Protects or Fort Greene. Brooklyn
Winner of the
-.- -,.-
WMll_ .... __
eirv Limirs
New York's Garbage
1992 New York City Audubon Society Media Award
for Distinguished Service to the Environmental Cause
CITY LIMITS covers the urban environment like no other New York magazine because
in this town the environment is more than parks, birds and trees. It is illegal garbage
dumping, lead paint poisoning, overburdened emergency rooms and crack vials in the
street. We uncover the hazards, and we spotlight grassroots groups turning their n e i g h ~
borhoods around. We've won six journalism awards for our reporting. Isn't it time you
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CITY LIMITS, 40 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012
Bare Necessities
circus for the rich, a workhouse for the
poor-that's New York City, where one
out of four people lives below the official
poverty line. One simple way to under-
stan the dimensions of poverty for those two
million New Yorkers is to compare the size of
their household income to the cost of basics like
shelter, food, transportation and clothing. For a
single-parent family on welfare, or a three-person
family on a minimum wage and food stamps,
income falls short of necessity ,and basic survival
is tough.
The number of city residents below the poverty
line shot up between 1989 and 1990, the latest
data available. Statisticians caution that the data
is not entirely reliable because it is taken from a
small survey. But more accurate figures showing
the number of New Yorkers on Medicaid-health
insurance for people with no financial assets-
describes a similarly sweeping increase. And this
year, the number of city residents on welfare has
reached a new high, just short of one million.
The high incidence of homeless ness and over-
crowded living conditions in the city attests to
the difficulty of getting by on what is officially
termed the "poverty" level: $11,140 for a family
of three. The Census Bureau created the poverty
line 30 years ago, basing it on the cost of a basic
food budget, multiplied by three. Since then, it
has been revised annually in line with the Con-
sumer Price Index, the standard measure for
inflation. Critics say it is not a valid measure,
because many families with incomes above the
poverty line can't afford decent food and shelter,
much less day care and medical care. 0 Andrew
Poverty in NYC
Percentage of NYC residents below the federal poverty line
1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990
Source: NYC Humon Resources Administrotion
Relative Annual Incomes, 1991
$30,000 y-----------------___....
20,000 ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - -
poverty level,
family of
Full welfare
family of
Minimum Median
wage plus foOO income, NYC
stamps, family
of three
Sources: Community Food Resource Center, Heolth Systems Agency
Basic Monthly Expenses vs. Monthly Income, Family of Three
Family living on minimum wage and food stamps Family living on full welfare benefits
Basic: Monthly
O . . L . . . - . . L . . . - - - - - - - ' - ~
Source: Community Food Resource Center
Basic: Monthly
O...l.... .......... ----...J.....-I
[[)Food Taxes Rent 0 Other Expenses
Decent housing. Small business development. Worth
fighting for. That's why Brooklyn Union Gas started the Area
Development Fund three years ago. We committed $5 million to
create a revolving fund and to attract others to the cause.
In this good fight, we use equity investments; below-market
loans for site acquisition, pre-development costs, construction
and business expansion; bridge financing; letters of credit and
venture capital.
Th date the Fund has contributed $8 million for housing,
small business development, and capital projects for cultural
institutions. We've gained dedicated allies among several
private and public organizations. Their help has enabled the
Fund to leverage $8 million to $267 million.
Come, join us in fighting the good fight ... shining armor
supplied. Thlk to Jan Childress at (718) 403-2583. You'll find him
working for you at Brooklyn Union Gas, naturally.
<0 Brooklyn Union Gas
By Camilo Jose Vergara
Andrew Cuomo's
Blunt Wedge
OW do you begin to solve the
problem of 5,000 homeless
families," Andrew Cuomo
asked rhetorically in 1986, at
the opening of HELP 1, a dormitory-
style shelter in East New York,
Brooklyn. "You begin with one family,
one project, one
HELP 1 was the
thin end of a
wedge that
would pry open
the way. Six
years later, in
February of this
year, we got a
view of the
bl unt end of the
wedge: "The
Way Home," a
report by the
Commission on
the Homeless.
The report is a blueprint for creating
a half billion dollar a year, indepen-
dent, private, nonprofit system to
replace the present shelter system,
which the report accuses of having
"squandered our resources." Endorsed
and authored by bankers, lawyers,
bond dealers, architects, developers,
social service providers and
professors, it purports to show New
York City "a new direction in social
The New Ghettos, Part Two
In the past decade, under the
combined influences of poverty,
drugs, homelessness and AIDS, the
worst ghettos of New York City were
reshaped, a process that the Cuomo
plan will continue. A new urban form
developed, almost by accident, with
huge homeless shelters at its center,
and methadone clinics and drug treat-
ment centers, mental health facilities,
group homes and jails almost always
occupying existing buildings in the
City View is a forum for opinion
and does not necessarily reflect
the views of City Limits.
vicinity. (See City Limits, May 1991.)
For example, from the steps of the
Project Return Foundation, a huge
residential drug-treatment center in
the drug-ridden University Heights
section, one can shout across to people
in a large men's shelter to the south
and a large family shelter to the west.
The Cuomo commission presents
us with a program for an even more
intensive institutionalization of New
York's most destitute populations in
the city's politically weakest neigh-
borhoods. Seeking to transform some
of the elements that formed the back-
bone of the new ghettos, the report
will add yet another set of large,
publicly funded facilities and place
them behind walls and fences: one
way in, one way out. Inside these
buildings will be families and single
people, most of them waiting to be
released into a world that has no place
for them.
Conflict of Interest
Furthermore, "The Way Home"
reflects the clearest and most wide-
spread example of conflict of interest
I have ever seen in a report. The people
and organizations that will create the
new semi-autonomous bureaucracies
it recommends are those who wrote
the recommendations. It is the
equivalent of commissioning General
Dynamics, Boeing, IBM and MIT to
advise the nation about its future
defense needs.
According to Comptroller Elizabeth
Holtzman, Andrew Cuomo's HELP-
Bronx alone has a $175.5 million, 15-
year contract from the city to serve
homeless families. Contracts of this
type are usually awarded without
competitive bids.
The Project Return Foundation
(PRF), one of the largest drug treat-
ment services in the city, was repre-
sented on the commission by its
president, Jane Velez. In addition,
three employees of PRF testified to
the commission, more than from any
other organization. In 1990, PRF spent
$60,000 paying for lobbying services
from Davidoff and Malito, the city's
most influential lobbying firm. Sid
Davidoff, president of the firm, is a
long-time friend and tennis partner of
Mayor David Dinkins and a close
friend of Deputy Mayor Norman
Steisel-the person credited with
convincing the mayor to create the
commission and to appoint Andrew
Cuomo to head it in the first place.
The underlying business character
of this self-serving undertaking was
diluted by a heavy dose of public
relations. The Ford Foundation, the
Rockefeller Foundation and Harvard
University's John F. Kennedy School
of Government-which are listed on
the commission's mast head as
sponsors-brought academic and
moral legitimacy to the entire under-
taking. No doubt this helped bring
strong, uncritical support from the
The New York Times, which boosted
the report in an editorial remarking
on the "extensive and apparently
ground-breaking" drug abuse study
upon which it was based, while
"The Way Home"
report represents
the most wide-
spread conflict of
interest I have
seen in a report.
endorsing the need to spend more
money on drug treatment. Elsewhere
in The New York Times, the authors
were lauded as "the blue-ribbon
Commission on the Homeless."
Enormous Power
The recommendations of the report
give officials enormous power over
the lives of homeless individuals who
will not have any recourse butto follow
the bureaucrats' decisions. When
homeless people try to enter the shelter
system, officials will determine
whether they are "ready" for a perma-
nent housing voucher or if they need
to spend a year in a transitional shelter
learning life skills. Those who refuse
to go along with the expert ' s
recommendation's would be placed
in a grim "General Shelter" while the
acquiescent homeless would be placed
in either a campus-style "B.A.S.I.C.S. "
re-education program or a "Residence
for Independent Living."
Many of these proposals are highly
controversial, but the report's recom-
mendations are presented as being
nearly unanimous. In the few cases
when dissenting views are acknowl-
edged, the names of the dissenters,
the reasons for their disagreement and
their alternative ideas are left out.
are going to put the reptiles over there,
we are going to put the buffalo over
here, we are going to put the seals by
the pool."
For Turner, the most disturbing
aspect of this problem is that it "is
doing nothing to work with the roots
of the problem, just like they do
nothing to work with the children, to
teach them things so they don't grow
up and become more homeless people
and substance abusers." 0
(212) 925-9820
If the proposed system is put in
place it will fail to solve the most
glaring problems of homelessness-
the individuals who are still sleeping
in the subways, the parks and the
streets. And what will happen to those
families who graduate from the new
institutions and find themselves
unable to secure adequate housing
with their vouchers?
Writing 0 Reports 0 Proposals 0 Newsletters 0 Manuals 0 Program
Description and Justification 0 Procedures 0 Training Materials
I am reminded of the words of Greg
Turner, a shelter manager I inter-
viewed in the West Side of Chicago,
an area that has so much poverty,
devastation and a concentration of
social services that it resembles North
Brooklyn. He describes with sad
humor the trend to control, to create
bureaucratic systems to manage the
homeless: "It's like the zoo; we are
going to put the birds over here, we
Research and Evaluation 0 Needs Assessment 0 Project Monitoring and
Documentation 0 Census/Demographics 0 Project and Performance
Planning and Development 0 Projects and Organizations 0 Budgets
o Management 0 Procedures and Systems
Call or write Sue Fox
New York City Entitlement and Advocacy Guide
for Volunteer and Professional Entitlement Counselors
Edited by Ellen Bach, MSW, CSW
Infrxmotion on over 40 eiy, slate, and federal benefit profIrOlllJ (inc/udi'l! Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, HEAP. etc.)
Eligibility criteria, applications and appeals procedures, advocacy tips
Desk-reference screening chart
Instruction in screeni'l!. interviewing. and advocacy
NYC local offices and telephone numbel'5 for all programs
Update subscriptions available
Color tabs to separate 27 different sections; 300 pgs
Orden may be placed by mailing order form and check for $40.00 for each manual
(postage included) payable to Community Service Society.
NEW YORK, N.Y. 10025
(212) 222-9946
Onien mUll be preplid.
Community Service Society, Office of Infonnation,
105 East 22nd Street, New York, N.Y. 10010.
Telephone (212) 6145314
CITY UMnS/MA Y 1992123
By Eric Weinstock
Down on Broadway
"The Heart Of The World," by Nik
Cohn, Alfred A. Knopf, 1992, 371
pages, $21 .
cratch beneath the surface of
almost any neighborhood in
New York City and amid the
layers of dirt, a miniature history
of the city and the forces that changed
it will emerge. From Sunset Park to
Washington Heights, from Jamaica to
Hell's Kitchen, New Y orkCity's neigh-
borhoods have all experienced a series
of metamorphoses over the years. In
"The Heart of The World," Nik Cohn
examines the evolution of the
Broadway boulevard and its neigh-
borhoods, from lower Manhattan as
far as Times Square, talking to the
people who remember how it Used-
Cohn is best known for his coverage
of discos in Brooklyn, which ended
up spawning the movie "Saturday
Night Fever." Originally planning a
trip around the globe , he was
convinced by a fellow journalist to
travel along Broadway instead
because, as James McCabe wrote in an
1879. history of New York, "Every
class, every shade of nationality and
characters, is represented here .. . it is
the world within itself."
Bizarre Land
Cohn writes in a travelogue format,
as though New York was a foreign
country, and even long-time city
residents may not recognize the
glorious and bizarre land of characters
that Cohn discovers. He sets up base
camp at a seedy Times Square single-
room occupancy hotel and his guide
is Sasha Zim, a young Soviet
immigrant taxi-driver-drummer-
hustler. Following the tradition of
Damon Runyon and A.J. Leibling,
Cohn focuses on the extraordinariness
ofregular people while giving colorful
doses of the history of Broadway.
Many of the people Cohn interviews
lament the ravages of time. Kolmar,
"the Magical Mandarin," had owned
a magic shop on Broadway and 51st
Street. "Of course, he says, "that was
before the plague." .Crime forced him
to sell his store in the 1960s.
For Cohn, the notion of a plague
was "the universal Times Square
lament. The name of the plague was
uncertain .. .it might be war or
Prohibition, gangsters, blacks or
realtors, welfare hotels or AIDS. But
the basic tale never changed. Once
upon a time on Broadway, there had
been a magical world. And now it was
lost, gone to dust."
It' s all too easy to imagine that
change occurs because of a single force
or blight, but Cohn also interviews
people with broader perspectives on
The city of
New York
is "the world
within itself."
the forces of change. He spends a
blustery afternoon on a City Hall Park
bench listening to Matty Troy, a former
political fixer who served as Queens
Borough President until he was
pushed aside by his former protege,
Donald Manes.
For Troy, "New York was not
governed by its elected governors,
never had been. Look closely at its
history-every major change had been
dictated, not by pols, but by bankers,
by realtors and Wall Street men, people
you never saw and never would."
Cohn doesn't spend much time
tracing the underlying forces of real
estate development, but he does do an
excellent job describing the early
growth of the city. When New York
was an encampment with a northern
border of Wall Street, Broadway began
its push to the frontier of the city.
When Broadway finally reached
Union Square, it was "supposed to be
the last word ... only everything would
not stop growing. It moved on
"Gambling Hells"
As Broadway pushed north, most
of the new neighborhoods originally
catered to the wealthy. Astor Place
was Manhattan's northern outpost in
1800. But as Broadway continued
onwards, it "became the Bohemian
Woods, lined with dance halls and
bordellos, the last word in gambling
hells." In 1849, the Astor Place riot
claimed the lives of 22 people and left
150 wounded. Broadway and the
brothels moved on.
Along this route, readers meet a
Chinese gambler-massager, a perfor-
mance-artist -stri pper-painter, former
boxers, a ship-captain's daughter, the
Doyle Sisters, aged 77 and 74, veterans
of both vaudeville and the burlesque
houses, and many others. In fact, Cohn
found himself with so much material
that he never completed his journey
along Broadway north of Times
As Cohn vividly illustrates, today's
porno-obsessed Times Square is just
the latest variation of an old story.
While much of the landscape of the
Great White Way was determined by
the entertainment tastes of the upper
class, Broadway has also always
catered to the city's needs for brothels,
illegal gambling, sideshows and
theaters somewhere along its path. Its
guiding spirit remains P.T. Barnum,
whose original museum on Ann Street
and Broadway downtown is now the
site of an "Adult Books and Peeps,
XXX" store. The forbidden desires of
our unkind species will probably
doom the Times Square Redevelop-
ment plan or any other effort to "clean
up" Broadway. Such efforts have been
defied for years.
Sad Coda
But even if the near-impossible was
achieved and the pornography
industry was driven out of Times
Square, it would just find another
home somewhere else. The dilemmas
caused by drugs, crime and pros-
titution are a sad coda to the area's
earlier history.
Those days exist only in memory
or on film, but for all of Times Square's
current obscenity and criminal
activity, each summer it fills with
tourists from Europe and the American
heartland, descendants of those who
filled Barnum's tents and coffers in
the land of Used-To-Be.
For its superb writing and inter-
esting history, "The Heart of the
World" is well worth reading. There
are eight million stories in the Naked
City and Nik Cohn tells more than a
few of them extremely well. D
Eric Weinstock is an economist and a
former city housing official.
Cars Undertaxed
To the Editor:
Richard Hochwald's argument that
the automobile owner is the most over-
taxed individual in New York City
(Letters, April, 1992) doesnothold up
under scrutiny. Rather than making a
net fiscal contribution through tolls
and gas taxes, drivers in NYC and the
United States receive big subsidies. In
1990, federal, state and local govern-
ments spent $70 billion on highway
construction, maintenance and opera-
tion. Of that, $15 billion came directly
from property and general revenue
And this does not count other costs
of auto use, including policing the
roads, health consequences of air
pollution, traffic noise, and motor
vehicle accidents, vibration damage
to buildings, the value ofland devoted
to roads and parking, the foreign policy
and defense costs of protecting distant
oil supplies, damage and clean up of
oil spills and so on.
Despite motorists' sense ofbeleagu-
erment, the United States has the
lowest gas tax of any industrial
country, and New York has the next to
lowest of any state. And New Yorkers
continue to drive for free over East
River bridges which lead directly into
the most congested part of Manhattan.
While additional taxes to finance
public transit are laudable, sticks
against driving must be in place to
reinforce any transit-improvement
carrots that might be offered. Other-
wise, a significant shift away from
urban motoring will still prove
difficult to attain.
Jon Orcutt
Director, Transportation Alternatives
To the Editor:
"Hudson Park Incorporated"
(Briefs, March, 1992) understated both
the extent of opposition to a public
corporation or authority ("entity") tak-
ing over the Westway area of the
Hudson River and the reasons why
groups from the Consumer-Farmer
Foundation to New York Public Inter-
est Research Group and Sierra Club-
NYC Group oppose it. If this entity's
purpose were really just to build a
park along the river below 59th Street,
why should it take over a vast stretch
of the river itself, as proposed? Why
should no park be created until after
huge sums and many man y more years
are wasted planning and/or building
Westway-type development sites in
the river and a bloated highway, when
federal grants for bikeways, walkways
and green grass are available now?
City Limits misquoted me on alleged
revenue from river development
funding the park. There would never
be any net revenue--only endless costs
for infrastructure bond repayment and
new services draining desperately
needed funds from the rest ofthe city.
If the entity itself did not issue bonds,
it could contract with entities like the
Urban Development Corporation or
the Port Authority to do it.
The trend toward government by
corporation is chilling. Claims that
entities can be made accountable are
belied by their actual powers, which
are defined in a welter of inaccessible
laws. Entities subvert democracy, can
lock in bad spending priorities
choices, are secretive and dictatorial
and have extraordinary powers to
misuse land and water. Federal grants
spent by regular government agencies
are the only realistic way to reclaim
the lower Hudson River waterfront
without risking more wasteful spend-
ing on environmentally destructive,
pork-barrel schemes for the river.
Marcy Benstock
Executive Director
Clean Air Campaign
City Limits has a limited
supply of "Women's Per-
spectives on Neighborhood
Development," a booklet by
the Women's Housing
Coalition, available for $5.
Send a check to City Limits,
40 Prince Street, New York,
NY 10012.
Competitively Priced Insurance
We have been providing low-cost insurance programs
and qualify service for HDFCs, TENANTS,
organizations for over a decade.
Our Coverages Include:
"Liberal Payment Terms"
306 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10001
(212) 279-8300 Ask for: Bala Ramanathan
CITY UMlTS/MAY 1992/25
Barry K. Mallin
Attorney At Law
A decade of service representing
community development organizations
and low income cooperatives.
72 Spri ng Street , Suite 1201
New York, N.Y. 10012
Tel ephone 2121334-9393
Concentrating in Real Estate & NonProfit Law
Title and loan closings 0 All city housing programs
Mutual housing associations 0 Cooperative conversions
Advice to low income co-op boards of directors
100 Remsen Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201, (718) 624-6850
o We have proven success with
government agencies and private foundations.
o We will present your organization's past achievements and
current funding needs with persuasion and polish.
Attorney at Law
Meeting the challenges of affordable housing for 20 years.
Providing legal services in the areas of General Real Estate,
Business, Trust" & Estates, and Elder Law.
217 Broadway, Suite 610
New York, NY 10007
(212) 513-0981
Over 20 years experience. Specializing in nonprofit housing &
community development organizations.
Certified Annual Audits Compilation & Review Services
Management Advisory Services Tax Consultation & Preparation
Call today for free consultation
914-633-5095 FAX-914-633-5097
28/ MAY 1992/CITY UMRS
Building Management/Consultants
Specializing in management & development
services to low income housing cooperatives,
community organizations and co-op
boards of directors
329 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11217
Rebecca Reich
718/857 -0468
C ommunity D evelopment L goi A Slstonce C enter
a project of the l.awyers Alliance for New Yark, a nonprofit organization
ReaL Estate, Corporate and Tax Legal Representation to Organizations
Tax Syndications Mutual Housing Associations
Homeless Housing Economic Development
HDFCs Not-for-profit corporations
Community Development Credit Unions and Loan Funds
99 Hudson Street, 14th Fir., NYC, 10013 (212) 219-1800
Hardware Sales:
286/386/486 Computers
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Software Sales:
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Services: Network/Hard ware/Software Installation,
Training, Custom Software, Hand-Holding
Clients Include:Acorn, ANHD, MHANY, NHS of NYC
Morris Kornbluth 718-857-9157
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To place a low-cost Professional Directory listing
please call (212) 925-9820.
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HOUSING MANAGEMENT POSITIONS. Mutual Housing Association of
New York and ACORN are interviewing candidates for property
management, membership services and tenant organizing related
positions. Candidates with relevant experience should send a
resume to Executive Director, MHANY, 845 Flatbush Ave, Brook-
lyn, NY 11226. FAX: 718-693-3367.
HOUSING SPECIALIST. Nonprofit housing developer seeks analyst
with background in public/private real estate finance, feasibility
studies, fundraising, project management. BUILDING MAUGER
needed for 81 unit CRlSROforthe homeless mentally ill in Jamaica.
Responsibilities include rent collection, approval of new tenants,
enforcement of house rules and oversee maintenance staff. Re-
sumes for both positions to Progress of Peoples Development
Corporation, 191 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 .
The Corporation for Supportive Housing, a national nonprofit
intermediary organization dedicated to expanding the supply of
service-enriched permanent housing for homeless and "special
needs" individuals, is seeking PROGRAM OFFICER and ASSISTANT
PROGRAM OFFICER level applicants for programs in New York and
nationally. Applicants should have multi-year experience in financ-
ing, developing or managing nonprofit sponsored housing, building
organizational and technical capacity in nonprofit organizations
and/or experience with the delivery and financing of residentially
based support services involving mental and primary health care,
AIDS, employment and substance abuse issues. Salaries highly
competitive, commensurate with experience. Excellent benefit
package. An equal opportunity employer. Contact: Vice President,
Corporation for Supportive Housing, 342 Madison Avenue, Suite
505, New York, NY 10173.
FINANCIAL. The National Center for Tenant Ownership is seeking an
experienced financial development professional to assist tenant
organizations in developing homeownership projects. Candidate
must have 3-5 years experience in housing production, real estate
financing techniques, financial statement analysis, and loan struc-
turing. Strong writing, speaking, interpersonal , leadership and
managerial skills required. Experience with HUD programs pre-
ferred. Travel required. Sal. $40-60K. Send resume to 111 F.
Street, NW, Suite 102, Washington, D.C. 20001 .
ATTORNEY. The National Center for Tenant Ownership is seeking an
attorney to work as a project manager with tenant organizations in
developing homeownership projects. Candidate must have 3-5
years experience in housing production or community develop-
ment, familiarity with real estate financing techniques, financial
statement analysis and loan structuring. Strong writing, speaking,
interpersonal, leadership and managerial skills required. Travel
required. Sal. $40-60K. Send resume to 111 F Street, N.w. , Suite
102, Washington, D.C. 20001 .
TENANT ORGANIZER. Activist community organization in Hell's Kitchen
seeks full time tenant organizer, committed to empowerment and
advocacy for poor and low-income tenants. Responsibilities in-
clude working to help create self-sustaining tenant groups and
negotiating with landlords in and out of Housing Court. Salary:
D.O.E., pursuant to union contract. Resumes to: Glenn Metsch-
Ampel , Executive Director, Housing Conservation Coordinators,
777 Tenth Avenue, NY, NY 10019. Minority applicants and women
are encouraged to apply.
Community Developmerit Group
A resource for the non,profit
development community
Gary Hattem, Vice President
280 Park Avenue, 19 West New York, New York 10017
Tel: 212A54,3487 FAX 454,2380
Gary Delgado, nationally known organizer, leader, trainer, author, founder and director of Applied
Research Center in Oakland, California; former director of The Centerfor Third World Organizing
(CTWO)-one of the leading centers fortraining people of color and grassrootsorganizers and editor
of their newsletter, MINORITY TRENDSLETTER; co-founder and first staff organizer of ACORN
(Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now); author, ORGANIZING THE MOVE-
THE ISSUE, an inspiring video of a conference of 50 diverse women organizers from across
the country (Produced by the Women Organizers' Project of ECCO)
STRUGGLING WITH THE "ISMS" (racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, anti-semitism)
(with presentations of examples from the field)
Food - Cultural Activities - Resources
9-5 p.m.
at Hunter College School of Social Work
129 East 79th Street (Between Lexington and Park Avenues)
$15 in advance ($12 ECCO members) $20 at door
(includes lunch and refreshments)
Call (212) 452-7112 for more information or to reserve a place. There is Iimited space so register early!