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A Decade That Begins With Miami

by Betty Terrell

On May 17, 1980 an explosion of fury and rage erupted in Miami, Florida,which officials say resulted in damages of $200 million. This dollar estimate was made quickly-within a few days-but there has yet to be an estimate of what it will take to rebuild the lives of the thousands of individuals who suffered before and after the riots from the most serious type of damage imagin- able: human destruction. The court verdict on the mur- der of a black man was clearly the trigger, but not the root of the problem. Miami reminds us of the nineteen sixties-a time when economic and racial segregation had to its credit the destruction of more lives than World War II. If we assess the situation in 1980, we see an absence of the bla- tant signs which separated people by race in the sixties, but all of the other ingredients appear the same. Institu- tionalized racism, coupled with the economic patterns

of our soci ty, has again brought us to the brink of chaos -an explosion which has the potential force of Miami tenfold or a hundred and tenfold. The problem is not one of isolated Miamis, but a problem of national scope and must be addressed as such. The social pattern in America Society has been one of



aways in times of social unrest and take-backs

when the rage subsides. These policies have always been justified in economic terms. The 1960's was no excep-

tion. The economic problems of the sixties were serious;


resulting in alarming unemployment figures. Coupled

with the lack of minority representation in decision making roles and a complete lack of government re- sponse, there was no place a person could turn to gain assistance even to feed his family. These factors coupled with daily reminders of deep-seated racism triggered a reaction by the Black community which shook the very foundation of our nation and caused the decision- makers to take a close look and begin to reshape priorities . The result was the Great Society programs which of- fered temporary relief to a fairly large number of poor and minority people. But the giveaway of the sixties was a deal in which the minorities really lost: only a small number of people received long-lasting benefits such as education, access to well-paying jobs, and positions of power in government. It was for the mC<1st part a

mechanism to "keep the natives quiet" and it did



a long while. The decade of the seventies brought with it a change in priorities at the federal level and a less sympathetic mood toward minorities. The "take-back" era had be- gun and has carried over into the new decade. A glaring example is the Open Admissions programs-adopted by major colleges and now all but extinct. There is less representation of minorities at all levels of government. This is not to say that there are not minority legislators who do advocate social programs. Rather, that the results of these efforts are less fruitful because of the

lack of response and cooperation of those who control the committees and wield the power. For example, the Borough Presidency of Manhattan which has tradition- ally been a position held by Blacks has been wrested from minority control. Furthermore, the prospects of gains in the upcoming election for this position remains marginal. The recent action in Congress to reduce CETA VI Public Service Employment, cutback on essential do- mestic programs such as Neighborhood Self - Help, LEAA, Youth Employment, and the elimination of un- employment benefits for CETA workers gives us a per- spective of the totality of the bias against the poor, near- poor and minorities. At the New York City level, the feeling of bias is equally rampant: the deprivation of essential services in poor neighborhoods such as hospit- al and school closings, the allocation of CD funds to areas which barely meet CDBG requirements and the priorities set in the City's 1981 budget. These "justified" cutbacks coupled with a continuing increase in programs which benefit the "haves" such as West- way, J-51, the Convention Center, Battery Park City, etc. clearly spell danger for minorities.


Editorials present an opportunity for comment, advice and opinion concerning important public issues, often government policy and administration. With this opportunity comes the responsibility to of- fer opinion and advice that is sound, moral and be- neficial to the public. In a recent editorial (June 7, 1980), the New York Times, while taking the oppor- tunity, abandoned its responsibility. The editorial gives an overview on and recognizes the success of HPD 's alternative management pro- gram and improvement in the central management of city-owned buildings. But as not to overburden the successful programs, the editorial goes on to advise the city to take a very irresponsible course of action: not to vest title to thousands of currently In Rem buildings. Such advice falls down on two impor- tant matters. By insisting the city not take title to buildings

over four quarters in tax arrears, the Times is con- demning those tenants in occupancy to unsafe and

inadequate housing . With neither landlord nor


responsible for cervices, these tenants will suffer the ravages of abandonment: no heat, no hot water and neglect of repair and lack of safety. Not only does such advice display a total lack of compassion for these low income residents, but it asks the city to abrogate its own guarantee to each citizen of a decent and safe home, and, if necessary, to act as "the landlord of last resort: ' It also ignores federal civil rights and housing law which guarantee similar rights.

The Times justifies its recommendation by claim-

ing that bringing more buildings into city ownership would overburden the city's management program and compromise their success. Yet,legally the city

has no such

option . The



very clear that the

remedy for real estate tax delinquency is for the city to take title and through management, auction or some other form of disposition to recover lost revenue and get the property back on the tax rolls. For the Times to recommend, and for the city to take such advice is to encourage nonpayment of taxes, as well as an affront to all tax paying owners. The scheme could well backfire. In line with the Times's reasoning, the City Limits editorial board should recommend to the five Tenant Interim Lease build- ings that were recently purchased by their tenants

that they need not pay taxes, for the city will not foreclose. The Times further suggests, after praising the vir- tues of tenant ownership and management, that the very slumlords who abandoned their properties should be rewarded with a program and incentive to encourage them back into their buildings. When will it be understood that the private market cannot op- erate effectively with an expected rate of return in many of the city's low income neighborhoods and that the viable alternative to city ownership is public ownership by non-profit co-ops and community or- ganizations? One last disturbing point about the editorial is not in the content of the editorial but the fact that the city follows these recommendations. We thought the city was supposed to have rejected Roger Starr's irresponsible housing policies years ago. 0


City Limits is published monthly except June / July and August / September by the Association of Neighborhood Housing Developers, Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Develop- ment and the Urban Homesteading Ass istance Board . Subscription rates: $20 per year ; $6 a year for community-based organizations and individuals. All correspondence should be addressed to CITY LIMITS, 115 East 23rd St., New York, N.Y. 10010 . (212) 477-9074,5 .

Second -class postage

paid New York, N .Y. 10001

City Limits (ISSN 0199-0330)


Tom Robbins

Assistant Editor


Susan Baldwin

Business Manager

Carolyn Wells

Design and Layout

Louis Fulgoni

Copyright 1980. All rights reserved. No portion or portions oj this journal may be reprinted without the express written permission oj the publishers. This issue was funded by a grant from New York Community Trust Cover photo by Marc Jahr

Dear Friends and Readers of City Limits:

Since we began publishing in February, 1976, we have always welcomed and encouraged you to sub- mit guest articles on housing and related issues . We attempt to cover as many issues as we can ourselves but realize that we don ' t know or hear about everything that is happening in your neigh- borhood or field of interest.

It is with this in mind that we again invite you to send editorial materials to us . We are always in- terested to hear firsthand from you what is happen-


Please keep us in mind and pick up that pen or get out that typewriter. Cordially,

The Editors

A Conflict Over Rehab Plans
A Conflict Over Rehab Plans

MableSmith , 241 WestIJIth St . tenant

Continued from p. 1

by Susan Baldwin

housing and welfare hotels. And the third in Harlem, 241 West l11th Street-is still fighting for its life. "They may think they can kick us around and take our homes away because we're poor, but the govern- ment isn ' t going to find that so easy because we plan to fight all the way for our homes, and I don't plan to re- main poor long." Such were the comments from Robert Lewis, a young musician who resides at 241 West lllth Street in West Harlem, where a major federally funded government re- habilitation program is slated to begin within the next few months . And Lewis is joined by other angry build- ing residents in his determination to resist relocation from his apartment. "I had to give up all my savings to move here, and I've been fixing up my apartment," he asserted, adding, "This is the best place I've ever lived. This is home for me, my wife and child and we won't leave-even if they offer us money to get out." His assertion at a recent ten- ant meeting was punctuated by others, including his wife, Venetta, who chimed in, "Yes, the city better get it straight. We are not happy gypsies, and we won't move ." The building in question-241 West ll1th Street-is tenant-run under a city housing program known at the Tenant Interim Lease (TIL) program, under which resi- dents collect rent and use this money to make basic repairs and provide services. At the end of a trial man- agement period, tenants are encouraged to buy the

building as low income cooperatives under the city's low cost homeownership program. Why are these tenants enraged and fighting the city's plans to relocate them? It is very simple. The city's pro- gram has run afoul of the federal government's substan- tial "gut" rehabilitation program for Section 8 subsized housing in what has been dubbed "Gateway to Har- lem". This area has been designated a Neighborhood Strategy Area (NSA), where a local developer and a non-profit community organization have a $10 million plan to rehabilitate 177 apartments in ten buildings. Cauldwell-Wingate, a well-known Harlem developer, and the West Harlem Community Organization have plans for the rehabilitation and are known as co- sponsors or developers and, through this partnership, will share in the profits from the sale of the project's tax shelter. Two years ago, HUD awarded New York City 6,500 units of Section 8 housing under this innovative NSA program which allowed for 20,000 such units nation- wide. As is often the case with implementing new govern- ment programs, the project is just getting started in the designated city neighborhoods, and one of the major complaints from tenant leaders is that developers are selecting occupied buildings-frequently ones involved in other city programs-when they could just as easily devise plans that would focus on vacant properties. "I would like to know how they can stitch this build-



ing into a land package before they would allow people who have been trying to buy for ten to 15 years," said Mable Smith, a tenant leader in the building for 40 years. "We are just shocked that our homes are being offered out of the blue to developers at a first shot." According to Smith, 241 West 111th Street has been involved in dealings with the city since 1964, and, although the tenants have attempted to buy their build- ing for years, their efforts have failed because of the failure of the city's programs to work.

The city takes a different view of the tenants' situa- tion. "I know the tenants want to buy that building but so far as I know, it is still going to be in the Section 8 pro- posal," said William White, director of the NSA pro- gram at the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development. "That building has had 11 years to

get its act together and hasn't succeeded






block with a lot of rehab planned, and we don't want it to be an eyesore in the midst of the other rehabilitated housing."

He also said he doubted that the tenants could get a mortgage for the building, stressing that the Section 8 subsidized housing would be better for all concerned. In addition, he suggested that only a few of the tenants were fighting the Section 8 proposal-an allegation hot- ly denied by the 16 resident families. On the other hand, tenants in another Neighborhood Strategy Area in Upper Manhattan's Hamilton Heights, have been successful in their efforts to have their build- ings removed from an NSA rehabilitation package. The buildings-500 and 506 West 145th Street-also small, tenant-run and occupied, are enrolled in the interim lease program and, until a few weeks ago, were schedul- ed to be absorbed in a developer's package. The devel- oper, a community-based builder, is G . Wilfred Gooden. "We were told at first that if we did everything the city said to do we could buy our buildings, and then we heard this was all out the window when the big develop- er came along," said George Lande, owner of the drug- store at 550 West 145th Street which is also known as 1714 Amsterdam Avenue. "I've been here 15 years and before that I was 15 years over at Seventh Avenue and West 140th Street. I bought this 50-year-old drugstore because I had faith in the neighborhood and wanted it to survive." Late in May, the tenants of 500 and 506 took a secret vote at two separate community meetings. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of tenant ownership. Plans for inclusion of the buildings in the developer's proposal continued until pressure from the tenants, a neighborhood technical assistance group known as the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, and sympathet- ic housing officials at HPD led to a change of plans. In a letter addressed to Gooden's consultant, Thorn- ton Sanders of the Sydebon Corp., HPD Deputy Com-

mISSIOner Charles Reiss wrote: "As you know, both buildings are currently being managed by their tenants under HPD's Tenant Interim Lease program. While we believe that both buildings require some renovation, a complete rehabilitation would require the relocation of all tenants and, importantly, deny the tenants the privilege of home ownership; home ownership is one of the major objectives of the TIL program,and the city is committed to fulfilling that goal." Gooden and his consultant charged that they cannot carry out an economically feasible rehabilitation of the rest of the adjacent buildings in their proposal as 500 and 506 are pivotal buildings for joining all the build- ings with elevator service and providing communal rooms. They also assert that the city promised the build- ings to them and said it would not renew the tenant lease when it expired in July. In addition, they maintain that Section 8 housing would better serve the needs of the community as it would help the low income residents achieve better housing. Under the Section 8 program, tenants who qualify need pay only one-quarter of their income for rent. For example, Section 8 subsidy would be available to a fami- ly of four with an income of up to $17,050, although Congress is presently considering a reduction of income eligibility levels. Asked why HPD removed the Hamilton Heights buildings from the developer's proposal but not 241 West lllth Street, Martha Gershun, of HPD's public af- fairs department, said, "Tony [Gliedman] is firm on this. All leases signed before the Section 8 packaging

was firm will not be upset



and 506 were signed

before, but this was not true in the case of 241



the tenants signed the lease in October, and the Section 8 package was approved earlier in the summer." Glied- man is commissioner of HPD. According to the records of the tenants association at 241 West 11lth Street, they joined the city's Direct Sales program, which was eventually replaced by TIL, in May, 1978, and signed an interim lease with the city in September, 1979. In earlier years, they also applied to the city's coop conversion plan under the Municipal Loan program but were turned down in January, 1976, because of the city's lack of funds. Prior to becoming city-owned in December, 1974, 241 was on repeated rent strikes against landlords for lack of services and entered the city's receivership program in April, 1971. The tenants also maintain that the city lost their original TIL lease and they were forced to sign a new one in October, 1979. Asked why the city had expressed no knowledge of 241 's history with the city, William Smith, director of

the TIL program, said, "I know now that they have a

long history with the city

I think it's unfortunate that But I still see

.. .

a lot of their contacts are no longer here

... this as a development question, and I am in property

Unoccupied buildings in West 145th Street rehabilitation plan .

Unoccupied buildings in West 145th Street rehabilitation plan . management. I did not know of this

management. I did not know of this history before." He also said that HPD should do more checking in the future and make sure buildings are not in old pipe- lines that are defunct. "As far as I know, this is where this building is now," Smith added. According to Ed Moses of U-HAB, who works with the tenants at 241, repeated efforts by his organization and sympathetic HPD officials have proven futile because Gliedman has remained adamant in his decision not to remove them from the Section 8 package. In addition to complaints about the city's indifference to their plight, the tenants claim that both Cauldwell- Wingate and the West Harlem Community Organiza- tion said in the early stages of developing their proposal that they could carry out their plans without 241 West ll1th Street.

Margaret McNeill, chairman of the West Harlem organization, confirmed that she had said "in the begin- ning that it made no difference to me whether this build- ing was in or out" of the package and that she was com- plying with the city which had selected a development strip that was in the middle of the block on West 111th and 112th Streets. Cauldwell-Wingate could not be reached for comment.

The question of why the city and developers continue to select occupied buildings for rehabilitation continues to rage, while parties involved in the downfall and evacuation of 50 families from two buildings at 2653 and 2657 Decatur Avenue in the Kingsbridge, Bronx NSA attempt to explain what went wrong in this pro- posed $3.4 million rehabilitation venture. The developer, William Hubbard of the Center for Housing Partnerships, maintains that rivalry between two local non-profit housing organizations for control of the buildings created an atmosphere of confusion causing the tenants to "overreact" and go on rent strike without paying rent to a tenants' association or the land- lord, leading to the landlord's refusal to provide ser- vices, and finally, an emergency evacuation of the re- maining families by the city on April 1, 1980. Charles Rappaport, the former director of one of the community groups-West Bronx Housing and Neigh- borhood Resources Center-said the incident caused

him to lose his job because the city refused to fund his organization as long as he was the director. He has charged HPD with failure to inform the tenants of the proposed rehabilitation plan until "it was too late." An independent proposal writer and HPD officials who worked on the project said the incident raised the question of both the government's and the developer's responsibility to brief tenants about development plans before they are alai! accompli. "Sometimes you can promise something too soon, and it never materializes," said Jane Gallagher, the packager. "Then you have something like the rage in

Miami, but it is not confined to Miami


It can happen

in any neighborhood." In the meantime, the two buildings which were once occupied now stand stripped and vacant with more than 115 violations-110 more than had been registered with the city this same time last year. And the landlord who sold his option on the buildings for $150,000 to the de- veloper now owes the city $140,000 in fines, liens and


"Stories like this just show you they should leave the occupied buildings alone," Mabel Smith concluded as she mused about her building'S future. "They don't have the whole story on 241. We have maintained our building, we believed in the city's programs, and our

building is the best one on the block. What makes them so sure that it is going to become the worst, an eyesore?

This is like a family here. Everybody looks out for

... everyone else, and nobody gets hurt. Nobody gets kick- ed out like those poor people in the Bronx. Why don't they go after the vacant, tinned-up buildings. They're plenty of them around." Smith has called for an HUD investigation of her building'S dilemma, but Alan Wiener, New York area manager, could not be reached for information regard- ing an inspection of 241's complaint. Another resident concluded on a more philosophical note. "I've been moving too long. I came here in 1961 after moving all the time, and I want to stay," said Mattie Hall, a wiry elderly woman. "We want roots and that's what we're trying to establish here. We'll fight hard to get them." 0

As the budget negotiations went down to the last minute , community groups protested outside City

As the budget negotiations went down to the last minute, community groups protested outside City Hall to demand more funds for neigh-

borhoods and tenant-run

buildings .


On June 11, as the city's Community Development budget went down to the wire in last minute negotia- tions, 200 people from community groups and neigh- borhoods across the city demonstrated at City Hall to express their support for a "Counter Budget" issued by the New York City Community and Development Coali- tion. The demonstration capped dozens of hours of meeting between community groups and city officials to plead for more funding for tenant management and building rehabilitation programs. Negotiations, however, appear to have been largely fruitless, as the finalized city application was substan- tially unchanged from its original form. $600,000 was added to the $200,000 allocated for the Sweat Equity Program, far short of the $7.7 million the "Counter Budget" called for to complete work on the buildings

presently in the pipeline .

"Aside from the Sweat Equity, the rest of the changes were all pure pork barrel stuff," said Brian Sullivan of the Pratt Institute . "The standard citizen participation process in creating the CD budget just isn't working-


largely wasted . People spent thousands of hours try-

ing to hammer out priorities and plans, but the decisions are largely made behind closed doors." Not included in the budget, but made in pledges from Deputy Mayor Robert Wagner and Housing Commis-

sioner Anthony Gliedman, was a commitment to use $2 million in CD money for the rehabilitation component

of the community management if the city's present plans to use Section 8 moderate rehabilitation prove unfeasible. The Community Development Coalition is planning to file an administrative complaint with HUD in July, after the city 's formal submission. The complaint, which is the first step in a legal challenge which may in- clude a law suit against the city, will cite violations by the city in allocation of its Community Development funds . 0


Three years after their building was abandoned by its former owner, tenants of a large Washington Heights apartment house have successfully turned back an at- tempt to return the building to private ownership. The Board of Estimate voted on June 12 to reject an application from United Mutual Savings Bank, mortga- gor of the property, to redeem the building from city ownership. The building at 800 Riverside Drive is cur- rently in its second year under the Tenant Interim Lease program. Tenants at the building-known as the Grinnell- took court action in 1977 following a winter of frequent heat interruptions and elevator failures. According to tenants repeated attempts to solicit the bank's assistance were made but no help was forthcoming. A 7A adminis- trator WC:'i appointed, and, following seizure of the building f~r back taxes by the city, it was accepted into the Interim Lease program. Under the law, the bank had a 20 month grace period during which it could file to redeem the building at the discretion of the city, a right the bank exercised, filing its application just before the May, 1980,deadline.

Richard James, chairman of the Grinnell Tenants Association, asserted that the bank's interest in 800 Riverside had been rekindled after tenants made sub- stantial capital improvements in the building. Apartments in the 83 unit structure at 158th Street are generally large, averaging between 6 to 7 rooms. Although tenants say they have received assurances from HPD that the building will be sold to them at the price of $250 per unit, they have yet to receive a firm commitment. According to James, the building is "about 50-50" low and middle income tenants. Cur- rently an engineering study is underway and James estimates it will cost tenants between $500,000 to $750,000 to make needed repairs. "If HPD comes up with a high purchase price for our apartments, this may turn into a pyrrhic victory," noted James. 0

p. S. 133 on six and one-half acre Baltic Street development sile. A Brooklyn Neighborhood Debates

p. S. 133 on six and one-half acre Baltic Street development sile.

A Brooklyn Neighborhood Debates Which Path to Development?

by Tom Robbins

Public School 133 stands like a forgotten monument from an earlier era on the edge of a long barren stretch of ground just off Fourth Avenue in the lower Park Slope area of Brooklyn. Police from the 78th Precinct enjoy referring to the baroque 1898 building as "The Little School on the Prairie." Stray dogs, who wander across the six and one half vacant acres harassing small children and disturbing nearby residents, add to the sense of desolation. The school, ironically, is the sole survivor of a 1970 Board of Education inspired plan to raze the apartment buildings, factories and warehouses on the square block between Fifth and Fourth Avenues, and between Douglass and Butler Street clear across a block and a half to Baltic Street, in order to build new grade and intermediate schools. It is Baltic Street whose name has come to be affixed to the huge lot which presently serves the multiple func- tions of open air garage, vegetable garden and junk yard . By 1975 the city's plans for the new schools lay shattered on the rocks of fiscal retrenchment and a com- munity already suffering from abandonment and ne- glect was left with a gaping hole and no funds with which to fill it. Large areas of vacant urban land can pose as many problems as possibilities. A community's development plan may hinge on a number of factors anyone of which can bar the way to construction. Contending forces in

the neighborhood, representing differing points of view, and frequently different racial and economic groups, may vie for control. Political officials, controlling a good number of the switches and levers, can move a project swiftly along or midway leave it stalled. To a large extent the eventual success of any proposal will depend on the sponsor's ability to weave a careful path through the numerous hazards and pitfalls along the way, ever mindful the project is not merely creating structures out of rubble, but helping to shape the eco- nomic and social direction of a neighborhood. Since the time the Board of Education plan for the lot fizzled, the Baltic Street ground has figured prominently in the thinking of neighborhood groups. An early goal of the Fifth Avenue Committee, which began operating in 1977, was some form of development on the site. FAC had from the first a two-sided battle to wage. On the one hand,it set out to deal with problems akin to most low income, minority neighborhoods in the city: hous- ing abandonment and deterioration of the Fifth Avenue shopping strip. On the other, the pressures from the burgeoning, increasingly white and middle class rejuve- nation of the upper Park Slope neighborhood were be - ing felt. While there were benefits from the brownstone movement, there was also an increasing dilemma of how to hold on to a moderate to low income area while real estate values spiralled about it.

To a large extent the Fifth Avenue Committee at- tempted to represent all the elements in an ethnically and economically diverse neighborhood. But, on the issue of the Baltic Street lot development, that broad based coalition foundered,and from the fallout, another organization, with a distinctly different opinion on the lot, developed. An initial public confrontation, although surprisingly restrained, between two development proposals took place at a recent meeting of the Land Use Committee of Community Board Six. Nineteen committee members, and an audience of 70, listened and questioned as the two proposals were unveiled in the first step towards city approval. One plan, strongly backed by the Park Slope Improvement Committee, which had splintered from FAC, proposed the construction of a "one stop shopping environment" to include a 30,000 square feet supermarket and an additional 17,000 square feet of an- cillary stores, including a bank and a pharmacy. To ac- commodate what the developer, the Rentar Development Corporation, and the prospective tenant, Waldbaums Supermarkets, feel will be a large number of car driving customers from surrounding neighborhoods, the plan calls for 357 parking spaces.

Committee members and others raised questions about the effect on the school, the number of jobs that would be generated and the impact on local merchants of a large shopping center. But in sum, the proposal was fairly straightforward and easy to understand: Rentar was ready to build, Waldbaums was ready to tenant, and private financing would be used throughout. The proposal of the Fifth Avenue Committee was a good deal more ambitious and required a certain leap of faith. FAC's plan, two years in the making, con- templated a mixed use scheme for the lot. Like the Ren- tar IWaldbaum plan it would include a supermarket of equal proportions, but with far fewer parking spaces. In addition, 210 units in 70 low- rise townhouse- style buildings would be built, with two low income Section 8 subsidized tenants and one home owner per building. Capping the plan, the group said it had found a way to construct a new 600 to 700 seat grade school without us- ing funds from the city's capital budget. Instead, the New York Educational Construction Fund, a quasi- public agency similar to UDC, would float bonds to raise funds for the school's construction and the interest and amortization on the bonds would be paid off by us- ing the real estate taxes from the commercial complex and the housing.

For some on the committee and in the audience,


was a complicated scheme to digest at one sitting, but for others the openness of the plan was encouraging.

"The mixed use idea was always expected for the area," said Bill Woods of the City'S Brooklyn Planning Office who was in attendance. "What's exciting is you are be- ing presented with a wonderful opportunity to jump in and help plan."

Selma Abramowitz, only recently made chair of the Land Use Committee, said no decision should be made yet, but suggested a "series of working meetings" for the committee. "I see problems with both proposals," she said later. "I just hope there will be a lot of ques- tions, and that we'll get the answers." In the week following the Land Use meeting, the Park Slope Improvement Committee held a fundraising din- ner at a popular health food restaurant on what PSIC's Chairman Lew Smith refers to as Park Slope's "gold coast." The group was looking to meet the costs it had incurred in producing and mailing a 9,000 piece poll of registered voters in the vicinity of the Baltic Street lot. Voters were asked to check "yes" on a postcard if they wanted to see a supermarket on the lot, "no" if they did not. The group s~id out of nearly 2,000 replies only 117 voted "no." No mention was made that a different, multi-use proposal, including a supermarket, had also been made for the lot. "When I moved here six years ago," said Smith recently, "there wasn't a single abandoned building along the Fifth Avenue corridor. Now there are 170 which are vacant or partially empty. The area has become bombed out." Active in the Fifth Avenue Com- mittee until the Baltic Street plans diverged, Smith feels that actions FAC took to withhold abandoned buildings from the city auction block have helped increase aban- donment. "I've watched my neighborhood be burned down and robbed," he said. "FAC has completely lost its perspective." Along with other dissatisfied members, Smith estab- lished the PSIC which has worked hard to drum up sup- port for the shopping center. To David Brennan, PSIC President and like Smith a homeowner in lower Park Slope, the issues of the Baltic Street lot are clear. "They want housing and we want commercial," he said after a second land use committee meeting which agreed it still needed more answers to its many questions. "I'm op- posed to subsidized housing of any form," he added. While both proposals contain the common element of a supermarket, according to Aaron Malinsky, Real Estate Director for Waldbaums, the two plans are " diametrically opposed." Pointing out that two super- market chains, Food Fair and Bohacks, had recently gone out of business in Brooklyn, Malinsky said his company had outlined large stores with big parking lots as the only way to survive. "There's not enough room on the lot for a new school," said Malinsky. The prospect of a large, suburban-type'shopping mall has caused some consternation in the neighborhood. The effect of the shopping center on local bodegas and other "mom and pop" stores is one the community has grappled with before and no clear answers were found. Two years ago the issue was intensely thrashed out when Pathmark sought a community nod to construct a similar center less than a mile away at the site of a Goya Foods plant. Path mark eventually did get the go-ahead

concinued on page 17


to make advances to the contractors," Castleman said. Seed money has been available to 7-A managed build- ings since 1978, for repairs before the building deteriorates further and goes into city ownership. To use 7-A, at least one third of the tenants in a privately- owned building that is not receiving services or has been abandoned must petition the court to approve an administrator, usually chosen by the tenants. The ad- ministrator, with training from HPD and often with help from a community organizer, is obliged to make certain specified repairs with money from the rent roll and possibly from the Emergency Repair Program. The administrator has the power to evict non-paying tenants and may take up to 5 per cent of the rent roll as salary. While in the program, the building does not make tax, mortgage, or past debts payments. Tenants are expected to contribute energy as well as rent to their building, and this helps make quality repairs and maintenance affordable at this time . Some remain skeptical. As one observer noted, tenants may find themselves "jumping through hoops for crumbs." Joint effort, however, may save tenants from possible displacement and the city from acquiring another dilapidated building. "What I want to do is match the commitment of the tenants," Shuldiner said. "$1,000 spent now is a lot

more than $50,000 two years from now

If the pro-

.... gram works, the city is doing well for itself." 0

Peg Byron writes for the feminist monthly Wom- anews and other community interest publications.


A special federally funded project will attempt to match handicapped New Yorkers with apartments of special design via a computer bank. The project, has been allocated $100,000 in federal Commumty Development funds, will be operated by the Settlement Housing fund under contract to HPD. The Housing Data Bank Referral Service is designed to facilitate access by the handicapped to housing opportunities appropriate to their special needs. Accor- ding to the Mayor's Office for the Handicapped, ~h~re are an estimated one million handicapped people hvmg in New York City. Of these, almost 500,000 are non- elderly adults with work-related disabilities, four fifths of whom have incomes under $7,000. Although many handicapped New Yorkers are hold- ers of Section 8 rental subsidy certificates,many of these are expiring because of the shortage of available ing. The referral service hopes to tap both publ~cly assisted housing as well as the private sector for housmg opportunities. Applications for the Data Bank ~re avail- able through the Mayor's Office for the HandIcapped, by calling Rita Warren at 566-0972. 0


After more than a year of negotiations with local community groups over widely disparate insurance rates set for New York City neighborhoods, the insurance in- dustry announced new advisory rates for apartment building liability insurance on May 30. The Insurance Services Office, an association of some 1300 property and casualty firms, which sets rates that are used by many firms, reduced the number of rating territories in the Bronx from 14 to 3. ISO also lowered the price dif- ferences from one neighborhood to another. The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coali- tion's Insurance Committee, which has worked to re- duce the wildly varying rates, said that under the new price structure insurance costs for two comparab.le buildings in different neighborhoods would be closer m range. An apartment building on Prospect Avenue in the Morrisania area, currently paying an $1873 premium would now pay $1300. A similar apartment building on Valentine Avenue in the Fordham section would see its premium rise from $427 to $700. Insurance Committee Chairwoman Breda Campbell described the new rates as unsatisfactory. "All they did was eliminate the drastic price differences," she said. "T.hey have not even tried to answer our charges of un- fair pricing." The Coalition has renewed its demand for pricing on a case-by-case inspection of the property. Committee member Ted Panos stated, "As long as they use territories there will be price discrimination. The companies and the state Insurance Department seem to be tossing up their hands and saying there is nothing they can do. We are not about to be satisfied with the bone they are tossing us." The Coalition Committee has arranged a meeting to be held in the Bronx to register its objections to the new rates with New York State Insurance Department Depu- ty Superintendent Donald Gabay. It will also offer alter- natives to the ISO "territory" rating system. At a June meeting with Travelers Insurance the Coali- tion pushed the company to take the lead in reforming the rating system. The group proposed tying liability rates to the number of housing code violations on a par- ticular property. "ISO exists because of the insurance companies," said Campbell. "It provides a convenient shield when these pricing issues come up." Noting that Travelers agreed to consider the proposal, Campbell said the group will make the same proposition to three other ma- jor insurers it is working with, Allstate, Aetna and Hart- ford. 0 Jjrn Buckley

  • 11 CITY LIMITS/June-July 1980

Nicholas Polonski, in front of 112 Bedford , one of the fir s t low in-

Nicholas Polonski, in front of 112 Bedford , one of the firs t low in- come tenant co-ops.

by Bernard Cohen

Five city-owned buildings totaling 82 apartments were purchased by the tenants in June, culminating nearly two years of work by housing officials to design a sales program capable of extending the benefits of cooper- ative ownership to lower income people. Only a handful of buildings in poorer neighborhoods have ever achieved true cooperative status because of the exorbitant cost to convert plus other legal and policy obstacles. "Never has the city sold buildings directly to individual tenant cooperatives," said Robert Robbin, general counsel of the Department of Housing Preserva- tion and Development. "The key piece is the ability to sell to tenants in occupancy." Buildings will be eligible for cooperative conversion following a year or more of successful management by the tenants, by community organizations or by court- approved administrators. One-fourth of all occupied In Rem units are in buildings under one of these so-called "alternative" programs. The rent collection rate under alternative management is about 90 per cent , twice the rate of buildings centrally managed by the city. Under the new policy, city-owned building s will be sold to non-profit corporations formed by eligible ten- ant and community groups. The pricetag will be $250 per unit, except in neighborhoods such as Clinton in Manhattan where the private market could command a much higher price. Rents will be targeted at $45 to $55 per room per month . A commitment of 60 per cent of the tenants to buy will be nece ssary before the building can be converted. To pre ser ve the low-income nature of the co-op, tenant purchasers cannot earn more than seven times the annual rent and the buildings cannot be sold for at lea st ten years without permission of the city. Furthermore , profit s from the re-sale of individual apartments must be shared with the co-op . Probably the biggest hurdle in the development of the sales program was how to make the co-op s conform to

Over Hurdles and Snags, First TIL Buildings are Sold to Tenants

state law that requires the disclosure of important finan- cial and structural information to potential buyers of housing cooperatives . The starting cost for a prospectus is about $10,000 including legal and engineering fees, a sum far out of reach for people of very modest means. Eight months of negotiations between city officials and the State Attorney General's office led to an agreement in early June on an offering plan containing a mixture of boilerplate and individually tailored documents to be compiled by the city as the sponsor of the proposed con- version, at no additional cost to the tenants. The city collects much of the data anyway while the buildings are in management. The sales policy has developed in many stages. An early draft was circulated in late 1978 . A number of con- troversies were generated along the way. Although the $250 price is based on the average amount the city was paid at auctions of similar In Rem buildings, some of- ficials pressed for a higher figure. On March 22, 1979, the Board of Estimate approved a policy that set $250 as the general figure but gave the city the option of raising the price. Tenant groups in the program argued for a uniform $250 price. And on February 21, 1980, the Board of Estimate passed a resale policy designed to dampen speculation . While the policy does not prohibit profits, it sets down conditions under which tenants will have to share from 50 per cent up to 100 per cent of their earnings with the co-op . Some tenants had argued for stricter limits on profits while others opposed any con- trols .










assembly line of closings at HPD was 112 Bedford Ave- nue in the Greenpoint-Williamsburg section of Brook- lyn . It is a modest six -unit building set in an Old World looking Polish neighborhood that prides itself on being one of the safest, most law-abiding neighborhoods in the city. American flags flying from two apartments at 112 Bedford describe the patriotism of the tenants, all of whom are middle age or elderly. An unlikely hotbed of radicalism, the building has been under tenant control since 1974, when it was still privately owned. Following

CITY LIMITS/June-July 1980


frequent lapses in heat and hot water during the winter of 1973 and the discovery the next November of empty oil tanks and $800 owed by the owner to the fuel company, the tenants decided to step in. "I informed the other tenants that I was not going to go through another winter like that," said Nicholas Po- lonski, a retired investigator from the Sanitation Depart- ment and also chairman of the Northside Community Development Council. "I suggested that we pool our rents and order the fuel ourselves, and we did that." Polonski, the "junior" tenant with only 21 years in the building, said the city seized 112 Bedford for non- payment of real estate taxes in 1976, "and now our problems really started." First was the broken shower pipe that gushed water for five days before it was fixed, followed by the minor boiler adjustment that turned in- to an $80 repair job after the city did the work, Polonski recalled. "I went to see the commissioner himself and told him, 'The last landlord was a slumlord, You're worse. I'm not giving any more rent to you people!'" And they didn't. Instead, he said, the tenants have sunk between $10,000 and $12,000 from their rent into the building, fixing the roof, fireproofing the stairwell, strengthening the structural supports, closing up two abandoned storefronts and making other repairs. Po- lonski said the tenants have been trying to buy their building since 1976. The four other buildings sold this week were 2674 Val- entine Avenue (10 units) and 684 East 189th St. (33 units) in the Bronx and 210 Forsythe St. (13 units) and 184 East 7th St. (20 units) in Manhattan. The sale of five buildings is a major milestone con- sidering the record of the past. There are 126 more buildings totaling 2,923 units in the sales pipeline, and Housing Commissioner Anthony Gliedman has predict- ed that many units will be sold by the end of the year. But many housing experts say the ultimate success of the program depends on the outcome of a number of fac- tors that have not been tested yet. The crucial question is whether the low income tenant co-ops will survive. The first five buildings were clearly among the strongest buildings in terms of repair readi- ness and tenant cohesion. Most of the city-owned build- ings are very old and suffered substantially from the withdrawal of services before being turned over to the tenants. The amount of government funds invested in the buildings varies from $20,000 per unit for rehabilita- tion of a relatively small number of units and $2,500 per unit for maintenance under community management to often a few hundred dollars per unit under the much larger tenant management program. By the time the buildings are ready for conversion , rents will have been raised several times, very possibly to the limit of what the tenants can afford. What will be the impact of rising operating costs or a major system breakdown on build - ings already at the margin? Housing officials have promised to target rent subsidies to tenants who cannot

--- -----

afford rent increases, and, after some reluctance, to set aside a pool of low-interest loan funds for the tenant co- ops. Officials have resisted the idea of creating a reserve fund for the buildings using the kind of purchase money mortgages now offered to those who buy city property at auction. A more technical question involves how well the new co- ops will weather the administration of four complicated housing regulatory systems: the co-op rules; rent con- trol; rent stabilization and senior citizen rent exemp- tions. Tenant managers on the whole are not bashful about claiming the credit for saving hundreds of buildings from the fate of decay and abandonment, nor do they shy away from policy issues. They have taken the posi- tion that the city stands to gain more by encouraging stable ownership by people who are committed to main- taining their homes than by treating sales purely as a revenue program. To them, this means a uniform $250 sales price, adequate repairs in the buildings before sales and financial support in the form of rent subsidies and low-interest loans for co-ops that need the help. "Nobody in this building wanted to be a landlord," insists Polonski, "but we had no choice. It was the only way to stay in the building, to maintain it and to live in this community. Nobody wants to leave this commun- ity." A neighbor, Dorothy Vaamonde, a 46-year resident of the neighborhood, chimed in, "This is my home for the rest of my life, I hope." 0


Seven New York City community groups were among 70 chosen nationally to receive grants under the new Neighborhood Self-Help Development Program. The program, which made grants totalling $8.6 million for revitalization projects, is aimed at providing public funds that will leverage additional private sector invest- ment. The seven New York City groups to receive grants in the program's first cycle are : Adopt-a~Building, $125,000 to rehab and manage 12 buildings; St. Nicholas Neigh- borhood Preservation & Housing Rehabilitation Corp., $120,000 to build a commercial center; West Harlem Community Organization, $147,304 to purchase, rehab and co-op 12 city-owned buildings; Manhattan Valley Development Corp., $125,000 to rehab two vacant city- owned buildings; Southern Brooklyn Community Or- ganization, $175,000 to rehab and manage 177 units of housing jointly with the Sunset Park Redevelopment Committee; Southside United Housing Development Fund, Inc . (Los Sures) $126,923 to acquire, rehab and co-op 47 units; Harlem Interfaith Counselling Services, $125,000 to rehab a block of historically designated brownstones for a neighborhood based mental health facility. 0

  • 13 CITY LIMITS/June-July 1980

State Legislators Pass Group Funding, Reject Co-op Protection Bill

by Michael McKee

Legislation to create a Rural Community Preserva- tion Companies program and to amend the existing Neighborhood Preservation Companies program passed both houses of the State Legislature in the final hours of the 1980 regular session. The measure was adopted by the Assembly at 4:26 a.m. June 14, and cleared the Senate twenty minutes later, seconds before that body adjourned for the year. Governor Carey signed the act into law on June 25. An appropriation of $750,000 for the rural piece was removed from the bill when the Senate and Assembly failed to agree on a number of budget matters. Funding for the new program of grants to community preserva- tion organizations in municipalities of less than 20,000 population may be considered in the fall when the Legislature returns to Albany to adopt a supplemental budget for 1980. The bill removes the current three-year limit on fund- ing eligibility and replaces it with an aggregate $300,000 cap for urban and rural groups. The requirement that a funded organization develop a plan for becoming "self- sufficient" is retained, but the three-year deadline for doing so is eliminated. Commercial revitalization pro- jects relating to "local retail and service establish- ments" are made eligible activities, as long as they are carried out as part of a housing program. The bill was sponsored by Senator H. Douglas Bar- clay (Republican of Pulaski), Assembly Majority Leader Daniel Walsh (Democrat of Franklinville) and Assembly Housing Committee Chairman Edward Leh- ner (Democrat of Manhattan). The latter has announc- ed that he will not seek re-election this fall in order to run for Civil Court judge. Still up in the air is whether Carey's Division of the Budget will impound any of the $7.6 million appropri- ated earlier this year for the N.P.C. program, under which 154 community organizations throughout the state are now funded. Last year the budget office did not allow the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal to spend almost $1 million of the $6.925 mil- lion approved by the Legislature; these impounded funds were "rolled over," or reappropriated, this spring, but this does not mean that they will be spent.

Co-op Conversion

The State Senate refused to pass a tenant protection bill which had cleared the Assembly by a wide margin. Sponsored by Lehner and Senator John Flynn (Republi-

CITY LIMITS/June-July 1980


can of Bronx-Westchester), the bill's major feature would have raised from 35 percent to "a majority" the number of tenants who must purchase their apartments in a co-op conversion plan before the sponsor can evict non-purchasing residents. The bill was effectively killed in the Senate, where it already faced tough going, by Mayor Edward Koch. A few days before adjournment the City of New York issued a legislative memorandum in opposition to the Flynn-Lehner bill, asserting that conversions are "good" for the city and that nothing should be done to impede them. Some of Koch's advisors had urged him to stay out of the issue; the memo was issued on his instruc- tions, at the request of Sheldon Katz, head of the Rent Stabilization Association, the landlord organization which has seized effective control of New York City's rent stabilization system. Koch's stance made it possible for Republican Sena- tors with large tenant constituencies to cave in to Major- ity Leader Warren Anderson (Republican of Bingham- ton) who had made a commitment to the real estate industry not to allow the bill through his house. The nervous Senators could feel comfortable hiding behind a Democratic mayor willing to risk widespread tenant wrath. The loudest sigh of relief came from Roy Goodman of Manhattan, who was under pressure from his East Side constituents alarmed at the accelerating flood of conversions. Beyond putting his name on the Flynn bill as a co-sponsor, he was hoping to maintain his usual low profile on tenant legislation. However, Goodman was worried enough to extract some last -minute concessions from Lester Shulklapper, the real estate lobbyist who is close to the Senate leader- ship and who has virtual veto power over most landlord- tenant legislation. Shulklapper agreed to provisions to exempt handicapped tenants from eviction (the defini- tion is extremely restrictive-only persons totally unable to work qualify) in conversions; raise the income eligibility for senior citizens who are protected from eviction to $50,000 from the current $30,000; and re- quire owners to report to the Attorney General every thirty days on their progress toward meeting the 35 per- cent requirement. This latter feature is a watered-down substitute for the Flynn-Lehner provision which would have given ten- ants the right to inspect all signed subscription agree- ments on three days' notice. Currently owners are able


On June 26, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board at the last of a series of meetings, set the highest guidelines in its ten year history. The Board is mandated by the Rent Stabilization Law to annually set the max- imum rates for vacancy and renewal leases for the City's 900,000 rent-stabilized apartments. William Rowen of the New York State Tenant and Neighborhood Coalition characterized the Board meeting as "the usual ritualistic rent-letting." For renewal leases signed between July 1, 1980 and September 30, 1981, landlords are permitted to raise the rent pursuant to the new order #12 by 11 per cent for a one-year lease, 14 per cent for a two-year lease and 17 per cent for a three- year lease. The Board allowed an additional 5 per cent vacancy allowance to be added to the guidelines for leases signed by a new tenant after a vacancy, with the exception that when the vacancy was the first to occur since July 1, 1975, the vacancy allowance may be 10 per cent. The RGB also adjusted downward the $12 a month fuel surcharge, currently being paid by tenants who are under existing leases, signed between July 1, 1978 and June 30, 1979, known as RGB Order No. lOc. This sur- charge is now $8 a month, effective July 1, 1980. The Board added a fuel surcharge of $8 a month to existing leases signed between July 1, 1979 and June 30, 1980, known as RGB Order #11. However, the Board stipulated the effective date of this surcharge to be the anniversary date of the lease, so that only mutiple-year leases would incur the surcharge, and only after the lease was a full year old. The RGB also added a 1 Yz per cent guideline for

Tenants demonstrate against rent hikes outside Sheraton Centre Hotel as upstairs Mayor Koch and Housing Commissioner Gliedman shared $30 per person fundraiser breakfast with the Rent Stabilization Asso-


The Rent Guidelines Board announced new increases in

stabilized apartments that afternoon .

those tenants whose landlords pay for their electricity. This amount would be added to the 11, 14 and 17 per cent increases. Members of the real estate industry in attendance of the meeting attacked the guidelines as "disastrous." Tenant representatives claim that the Board had, as usual, reliable data for the cost increase portion of the guidelines, but no data whatsoever to justify the vacan- cy allowance. 0

to engage in high-pressure tactics, claiming that they have or are about to reach 35 percent and thereby stampede tenants into buying out of fear of eviction . After voting with the Democrats in the ritual losing floor amendment to attach the Flynn-Lehner bill to the weak Shulklapper package, Goodman claimed victory.

A separate bill to bar "eviction" plans entirely and to allow only "non-eviction" conversions remained buried in committee in both houses. Neither of the measure's sponsors, Senator Frank Padavan (Republican of Queens) and Assemblyman Saul Weprin (Democrat of

Queens), made any attempt to move the legislation.

Other Measures Also passed were bills requiring the New York City Housing court to hold one night session per week; allowing tenants whose buildings are without heat to purchase fuel or repair boilers and deduct the cost from their rent; and allowing fire-door exits to be locked if they can be easily opened or unbolted from inside with- out a key. A measure to extend the protections of rent stabilization to loft tenants in New York City passed the Assembly but was not acted on in the Senate. 0

Low Income Housing Subsidies Come Under Fire In Congress

On their way to refunding in this fiscal year, federal low income rent subsidy programs faced a major challenge in both houses of Congress. While specific proposals which would have re-focused the thrust of federal policies away from new and rehabilitated apart- ments to a greater emphasis on existing units as well as towards enabling middle income rental construction were defeated, the attempt may well be a harbinger of greater change to come. In a budget conscious, cost-cutting Congress the gov- ernment's major tool for creating new housing for the poor, Section 8 housing subsidies, came under heavy salvos of fire as its appropriation moved through com- mittee and onto the floor of both houses. The most dramatic indication of the Congressional mood came in April when a motion to eliminate all government assistance to low income housing was defeated only by a tie vote in a Senate committee. What eventually emerged in the Senate from the clash of differing outlooks on how the federal housing sub- sidy dollar should be spent was a total of 255,000 assisted units-including 118,200 for new and substan- tial rehab and 78,800 existing subsidies. The House decided not to consider the legislation until after its recess. Foremost on the list of complaints against Section 8 was the immense costs involved and the rising amount of funds already pledged for support. Those members of Congress questioning the subsidy program found am- ple fuel for their arguments in a U.S. Government Ac- counting Office report released in early June which labelled Section 8 "extremely costly" and "of benefit to only a fraction of the millions of households in need." With 759,000 families receiving assistance at the end of 1979, and 250,000 more expected, the GAO estimated the government will owe over $128 billion over the next twenty to forty years. Figures such as these "spell the death knell" for the program said one Congressional housing aide. It was in response to this kind of pressure that bills were in- troduced in the Senate and the House to re-shape government assistance programs. Both bills, introduced in the Senate by Senators William Proxmire, Democrat of Wisconsin, and Harrison Williams, Democrat of New Jersey, and in the House by Representative Thomas L. Ashley, Democrat of Ohio, called for a shift in the "mix" of existing and new subsidies, towards greater emphasis on existing units.

The rationale behind the effort, its supporters said, emerged from an overall analysis of how best to achieve

the goals of creating more decent living units for the poor, while at the same time keeping costs low. What emerged was a program which aimed at removing a por- tion of funds from Section 8 new and rehabilitated housing and putting them to use by subsidizing the costs involved in building middle income rental units. Accor- ding to the Senate housing committee report,"it is more efficient to rely on existing housing to subsidize lower income people, and undertake a separate program in- volving a shallower subsidy to spur multifamily rental production."


bonus to

the poor,

the bill's adherents said,

would be greater accessibility to housing because of the units which would "filter-up" once their middle income occupants moved to new housing.


part of the

'more bang for



school of

thinking," commented Cushing Dolbeare, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition whichop- posed the legislation . Both sponsors and opponents of the effort were in agreement that a strong tide of resentment was building in Congress against the costs of low income housing subsidies and that something would have to be done to stem it. "This was introduced with the best of good- will" said Dolbeare . "There is a lot to be said for a mid- dle income rental subsidy program, but to divert badly needed funds from low income housing is just plain wrong." Supporters point out that there is a net gain in the number of low income families that can be assisted through a shift in the mix, as well as that both bills con- tain provisions mandating between 20 to 30 per cent of the units built under the new program be set aside for Section 8 eligible families. "The social theory behind the legislation," said Roger Faxon, an aide to Represen- tative Ashley, "is that you have to affect supply and de - mand. In many areas we have an extreme housing short- age, and by opening up more units you push the price down ." But while that theory may hold true for some areas, it doesn't for others countered the critics. "It's based on the vacancy rates for places like Houston, Texas," said Charles Laven of the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board. "It assumes that housing depreciates in value rather than appreciating, and it also assumes that hous- ing doesn't deteriorate. In New York City there is a vast amount of land and housing stock available for new and rehabilitated housing, but there's a mis-matched de - mand for housing." Since its inception in 1974, after the Nixon morator- ium on federal housing construction, the Section 8 pro- gram has been often criticized, but no acce~table alter- natives have been proposed. "I don't know where else we can go," said Al Eisenberg, a staff member of the Senate Subcommittee on Housing, after the rejection of the multifamily initiative. "Section 8 seems to work, but as everyone can see it's expensive. But if you want the private sector to be involved, then it's going to cost." 0


Continued from p. 9

although it ha s yet to start construction. But while the debate raged, studies and reports were entered into evidence, each one attempting to conclusively prove shopping malls either led to a new bonanza for small merchants, or to their rapid demise. "No two scientists would come to the same conclu- sion on that issue," said Malinsky. To others the issue is decidedly secondary. "Why should we subsidize margin- al businesses that can't look after themselves?" asked Brennan of the PSIC. Joel Gurney, Vice President of Rentar, is convinced his shopping center would have a "ripple effect" on Fifth Avenue stores. "Waldbaums would drop out if it's not built to their criteria," Gurney warned the Land Use Committee. The Rentar Corporation came well recommended to the Community Board. As developer of the Albee Square Mall, the key ingredient of the revitalization of Fulton Street in downtown Brooklyn, the company is much in- volved with community development. Rentar is also po- litically involved and has been served well by its close ties to the Brooklyn Democratic Party. The corporation has received numerous public contracts in the past, in- cluding a long term lease to develop and manage the Flatlands Industrial Park. A major part of the effort to win approval for any large scale development is the successful wooing of po- litical officials, and both groups have been actively seek- ing support. A key figure is Borough President Howard Golden, who, so far has not publicly, stated his prefer- ence for either plan. "The Borough President believes there is an opportunity to get something done," said Golden aide Ray Levin. "We don't think the plans are incompatible . We'd like to see a new school or modern- ization of the existing school. So far FAC has spoken to us in generalities. It's one thing to say ECF can build a new one and another to actually bring it off." The final decision, Levin said, does not rest with the Community Board. "They serve in an advisory capacity to us, not

the other way around,"

he said.

As city budget negotiations went down to the last

hour Brooklyn political leaders were able to get a com- mitment for design funds for the rehabilitation of P. S. 133 and a listing of $2 million to be spent in fiscal year

  • 1982 for modernization. 1982, however is a long time,

and another round of budget balancing away. Board of Education engineers have estimated that it would cost $4 million to rehab the school, two thirds the cost of a

replacement school. Such figures in the past have effec- tively blocked any attempt to do a modernization of P.S. 133 . At the Land Use meeting where the Baltic Street proposals were unveiled a number of sharp ques- tions were aimed at the Rentar/Waldbaums proposi- tion's lack of planning for the school. "It's an amazing coincidence that all of a sudden funds were found to rehab the school at the last minute," noted Jack Ulrich, a local schools activist, and member of the South Brooklyn Action Movement which is backing FAC's

proposal. The Fifth Avenue Committee has brought powerful allies with it for the implementation of its mixed use plan for the site. Even opponent Lew Smith has com- mented admiringly on FAC's development group. "I'm impressed with the team they have managed to put to- gether," he told a Land Use Committee meeting. A ma- jor part of that team is the Aetna Life and Casualty Company which is working closely with the community group and has already granted $25,000 for planning. In addition, the company has pledged financial backing for the housing and commercial components . Jerry Altman, a consultant for Aetna who is working on FAC's proposal, said the company sees important stakes in the Baltic Street plan . "From a neighborhood revital- ization point of view," he said recently from his base in Chicago, "Aetna wants to test a national demonstration model that shows how a lender, in conjunction with a broad based community organization, can stimulate rebuilding a neighborhood ."

FAC has also hired attorney John Zuccotti to repre- sent it in negotiations with the city and HUD for its pro- posal. Zuccotti, former Deputy Mayor and Planning Commissioner, is a highly sought after development lawyer because of his excellent city and federal housing connections. "We knew we needed some muscle on this one," said a FAC member. FAC's present housing scheme falls midway between two different federal pro- grams, one aimed at middle income and the other at low, and convincing HUD that the project is workable may take some doing: "The combination of homeown- ership with subsidized units is something we think HUD will find attractive," said Altman. At one point FAC suggested the site be totally low in- come housing, a position it has since rejected . "This is an area where there is a strong feeling for home owner- ship," said Rebecca Reich, FAC development director, "and at the same time there is a real need for low in- come housing. The Baltic Street plan complements other work FAC has undertaken and proposed, in- cluding Section 312 homesteading." On a recent Saturday afternoon five men working laboriously on the engine of a vintage Ford Galaxie parked on Butler Street in the middle of the lot had no trouble deciding which of the plans they thought best for their neighborhood. "I grew up right over there," said one, pointing to a mound of broken concrete and twisted steel adorned with a torn mattress. "And we all went to school in that building," indicating the stately structure at the end of the block. "Sure we need some shopping but we need housing even more. If this land belongs to the city, why should it go to benefit some rich guys?" Four heads nodded vigorously in agreement as they eyed the terrain about them . 0

brunt of this society's meager attempt to integrate? A Black who is denied an apartment in an attempt to maintain a racially segregated community and a Black who is denied an apartment in order to maintain an in- tegrated community are in the same position. They have been denied an apartment because they are Black. The concept of "tipping" and the utilization of quo- tas to artifically restrict the numbers of Blacks and/or Hispanics living in a particular area or complex is an ac- ceptance and validation of the racism endemic to this society.

Betty Hoeber Director Open Housing Center, Inc.

In some apartments new paint jobs had to be destroyed because of renovation work which followed the paint- ing. In June, three newly completed apartments needed to be replastered. Rusty appliances were being installed in kitchens. Workers needed to wait hours or days for necessary materials to arrive. Two years ago 590 Parkside Ave. was one of the for- tunate city-owned buildings being given a chance to come back from neglect and deterioration. But for 590, entry into an alternative management program was just the beginning. The promise is yet to be fulfilled. Carol Smolenski Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Assn.

To the Editor:

On the cover of City Limits in July, 1978, the entry of 590 Parkside Avenue, a 40-unit Brooklyn apartment building into HPD's Community Management Prog r am was heralded as a great victory. After much work by the tenants and community organizers, the building re- ceived a precedent -setting $6,OOO-per-unit for the renovation . There indeed seemed to be much cause for optimism . But the state of 590 Parkside today points up the drastic difference between the promise of HPD's alter- native management programs and the reality. In May, 1980, an inspection of 590 showed lighting fixtures dangling from ceilings, holes in walls from re- wiring done the previous November, an unlocked front door, no mailboxes, no intercom and no finished apart- ments. There were only 17 tenants, the same as in 1978. 590 Parkside is now in the Management in Partner- ship Program. It has been for about a year. It spent one useless year in the Community Management Program. Crown Heights Management and Maintenance Corpor- ation, the community group hired to manage the build- ing, neglected it and, after one year, its contract with HPD was not renewed. 590 became an interim resource and seemed assured of further decline. In June, 1979, Coalition Management Training Cor- poration (CMTC) agreed to take 590 into its newly formed Management in Partnership (MIP) Program, with Crown Heights Management as the junior partner. HPD agreed after Crown Heights changed its entire staff. Since then, the roof and the boiler have been satisfac- torily repaired. The piles of garbage in the basement have been cleaned out. But the work which was termed "completed" seemed cheap and shabby. Months after the apartment doors were installed the workmen returned to line them up with the locks and doorjambs. Some new windows were installed, but not completely secured while the manage- ment waited for weatherization program information.


Continued from p. 2

In the 1980's we see hunger; we see our friends and

neighbors stripped of pride and self - respect as a result of cutbacks in social programs. We see a city administra- tion which does not recognize minority and low income neighborhoods; a U.S. Congress which says it is not concerned with providing jobs for the unemployed; a threatened cutoff of food stamps; elected officials who

vote against our interest, We

see the closing of hospitals

and of basic health services. We see our homes become deterioriated and abandoned; a welfare system which ties the cord of dependence while decreasing its aid for recipients. We see all this with a justification for more military spending and increasing giveaways for big busi- ness, large corporations, and the upper class. Basic human needs must not continue to be issues for public compromise . The ingredients for massive unrest are here. The level of hunger and rage will be the deciding factor on whether the rage will explode. We hope it does not; past explosions have deeply injured the victims without pro- ducing meaningful change. It is time, however, for close examination and assess- ment of the situation and action to correct the injustices which created it. There must be a reshaping of priorities so that government can serve all of its citizens, not just a chosen few. There must be a recognition that a govern- ment is only as stable as its foundation-its citizens. There must be an acceptance that all of the foreign aid and military allocations cannot make a difference if the social needs of citizens remain unmet. 0

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  • 19 CITY liMITS/June-July 1980

URBABABBLE - A Practitioner's Tale

Urbababble, a dialect native to most urban affairs of- fices, has recently been isolated and analyzed by a prac- titioner, Robert Fichter of the Parkman Center for Ur- ban Affairs in Boston. Like many urban lingos, Urba- babble loses a good deal in translation, and Fichter has chosen to display the tongue in its full flavor via a short story followed by a lexicon of usage in his booklet "Ur-


Fichter's tale revolves around Henry, a local govern- ment official "working his way up the CD ladder" who, while still in planning school the phrase "'a decent home and suitable living environment' had been, as it were, xeroxed on his sou/''' An abridged version of the tale appears below.

"Henry," the CD director said to him recently, "We have to gear up for some concentrated decision-making. Our mandate is to choose one more impacted area as an NSA, and we could be in a bind on this one. We've got to show a good faith low/mod effort, but the mayor's hot to have us step up our capture rate on these young professional "back to the city" types. I'm willing to pull out all the stops for you, but I want to see you hit the ground running. You've got two days, kiddo." Henry's boldest initiative to date-his reputation was based on it-had been to abort the bail-out of a troubl- ed 221(d)(3) project. He had taken a good look at it, come to grips with the problem, and had decided that, given the social balance sheet, throwing money at it just wouldn't do the job. The bottom line on that particular black hole (black hole as in outer space rather than Cal- cutta) was that it was going down the tubes without even a mid-range hope of viability. Henry had gone way out on a limb on that one. The issue was hotly debated. There were a lot of people who wanted to dump the City's whole Sec 8 allocation into Freedom Acres, even if they also knew that it had gone critical. "Sorry," Henry had said. "I know the political realities, but there's no way we can retrofit any kind of rationale for this one, I don't care what kind of cost! benefit bundles you bring in. What the Feds have put in place here is a real disaster. If we don't want to get lock- ed in with them, we've got to cut our losses and pull the plug." "The jury isn't in yet," they argued. "Look," Henry replied, "I've laid it all out for you. If you want to deal with this in any kind of serious way you won't signoff on their game plan. Let them take the high road, but I promise you they don't have a mechanism in place that will get at the question of the basic match/mismatch parameters here."

So here is Henry, being asked to head a task force (the task force idea was a late stage buy-off to keep the crazies from pulling a sit-in) on the third NSA and facing a severe time crunch.

What Henry figures

he's got to do is get input from

people who have special expertise in manipulating small area data and cranking out what the Feds will be willing to buy in terms of an upgrading strategy with a low/ mod hold harmless factor built in. What you'd need for that would be real time indices of neighborhood dynamics showing slack demand with fine grained selec- tive marketing potential. Laying it out-let alone opera- tionalizing it-could be a tough task. Henry feels a real straight jacket lurking in this one. What Henry needs is a fast track approach. The long term is fine for researchers, but Henry has to operate in the real world where "results-oriented" is the name of the game and timing is all important. So Henry sends off yet another action memo to his director, telling him the project will never be up to speed unless the agency staffs it up to at least a threshold level. The boss sends Fred. Fred is a good kid, bright, just out of planning school, still wet behind the ears but eager to learn. Once the tough decisions are made at a command level, Fred should be able to take the situation and matrix it out in physical/social cost-benefit terms. "The boss asked me to honcho this one," Henry said to Fred, "and it could be sensitive as hell. What we've got to come to grips with, off the record, is how to han- dle the interactive effects of new lifestyle demands and recyclable housing. There's no way we can finesse it and there's no simple programmatic response that's going to provide affordable low/mod spin-offs. Personally, I'd like to opt for a mediated solution, but no way that's go- ing to happen in the present environment. It would just be counterproductive. The thing is, we can blah-blah- blah a lot of commonalities of interest, but if we can't prove commitment to neighborhood stabilization and protecting low/mod with every tool in our tool kit, the Acorn people are going to be after our ass." "What I think you're telling me, Henry," said Fred, "is that we don't have much policy space on this one." Henry spread out the map. Three areas were outlined in red. The first was Frog Hill, the second River Road, the third Colombine. "Now let's just take a first cut at it," said Henry. "We have some impressionistic data for starters. You could begin to spec it out like this," he continued as he went to the chalk board and began to write. River Road: The Pits-Mostly minority. Very poor. Abandonment 35070. In need of large scale clearance and massive social services. Colombine: Archie Bunkers-Blue collar. In need of moderate fix-up. Confidence building also needed. 45070 of stock tract development. Frog Hill: Hanging Plants-Brick row houses.

Declining rooming house tenancy with conversions. Early signs of young professional interest, though no hard data. 32070 elderly. Henry erased the chalk board. "That's what we've got to work with," he said. "Interface with anybody you have to. Don't let anything fall between the cracks. Go to it, kid."

While Fred scoots off to the field, Henry picks the brains of an old friend Marvin, who is a HUD OS-14 and who tips Henry that HUD is "in an expansionist mode" and may soon be issuing "an RFP on spot gen- trificiation approaches" to "benefit low/mod in a rising market." Henry also seeks out Harry, "a battle harden- ed veteran of the CDA/Model Cities wars" and now "lead urban guy" at a top consulting firm who suggests "public sector assisted build-up to achieve a critical mass of existing opinion leaders." When Fred returns ideas have germinated in Henry ~ brain.

"Well, your impressions of Colombine and River Road were pretty accurate, and on Frog Hill, I drove around and figure approximately 23% of the popula- tion owns Volvos," declared Fred. "Windshield survey, eh? Good going." Henry nodded his head. "Looks like things are moving even faster than we thought. Okay. Let's just stick with the 1970 census data on that." Fred blinked. "But they're way out of whack by now in Frog Hill." Henry made a noise as if to suggest that Truth may be entered by many doors. "In the sense that they don't precisely convey present reality," Henry said. "On the other hand, what we're really dealing with here is the build-up of a critical mass. Now you want to piggyback on that if you can. Or to put it another way, if you want to achieve a turn-around, score a breakthrough-and believe me, HUD is as hungry for that as we are-the project's got to be do-able. We can be a real catalyst in Frog Hill via the NSA route. That's the kind of neighborhood where intervention makes sense in bot- tom line terms." "But won't there be a backlash from the people in River Road?" "There could be, to the extent that the media picks up on it. That's why I think we want to work along the lines of a public sector/private sector partnership, a kind of co-venturing in Frog Hill. Come at it from this side:

River Road is just what the 'Pockets of Poverty' UDAG is all about. You've got a wholly different set of parameters working in that situation. "It's just dysfunctional," Henry continued, "that's the lesson we've learned, to pour good money after bad. The payback just doesn't make any kind of human or economic sense. I don't mean to say · we're going to Quincy Market Frog Hill. We still have some Sec 8 ex- isting to put in there for low/mod renters. But with an outreach marketing component for net payer

households we can impact the future of Frog Hill in a very real way. We just can't do that for River Road." "I follow you, Henry," said Fred. "This is the nitty- gritty they never taught us in planning school."

"It's the real world," Henry repeated. "Sometimes you can do it from the bottom up, sometimes you have to do it from the top down, but it comes to the same thing: it's got to be fundable and it's got to be do-able or you're just pissing in the wind." "What next, Henry?" "Well, we've got to write up the application. We're going to need some first class blah, blah, blah. If you haven't got all the numbers you need, use your best guesstimate. I'll make sure they're in the ballpark. What I want to pull off is presenting the whole NSA as a paradigm of cushioned assisted spontaneous reinvest- ment with the public sector getting maximum bang for the buck by operating on the margins. That's where the action is today." "It really just boils down to marshalling your resources and then allocating them in a way that makes good strategic sense." "Exactly," replied Henry.

"And that means sometimes you have to

retrofit. .


"Logic," Henry concluded. Fred picked up his notebooks and maps. "Thanks, Henry," he said. "Thanks a lot." 0



Nicolas R.M. Pacella Design Resources

(212) 489·8827

  • 21 CITY LIMITS/June-July 1980

In Washington, Community Groups Seek CETA Set-Aside and More Input

by Susan Gould

Between May 28th and 30th, over 800 people from community-based organizations in 30 states gathered in Washington, D.C., for the purpose of assuring CBOs a continuing planning and operating employment and training programs. Foremost on the conference participants' agenda was to deliver to Washington policymakers a sense of the needs and goals of groups using CETA-funded labor. While groups received less-than-satisfactory responses from CETA officials and lawmakers, at the end of the conference a national network had been established to combat CETA budget cuts and advocate for the role of community groups in the program. Sponsored by the Center for Community Change-a Washington-based technical assistance and government monitoring organization - the conference presented recommendations developed by several CETA task forces to the Department of Labor and the White House. Among task force recommendations were:

• Require a set-aside of CETA funds for community- based organization-operated projects. • More aggressive monitoring and enforcement by the DOL of regulations related to CBO participation; DOL oversight of prime sponsors' "independent" monitoring units. • Direct contracts between DOL and CBOs to develop and conduct long-term programs for training the "hard core unemployed" in marketable skills. • Inclusion of statistics gathered by CBOs serving Hispanic constituencies in the data used by the federal government to determine CETA allocations to munici- palities. • Funding of supportive services, such as day care, in rural areas to complement CETA programs. Few DOL officials responded directly to the task force recommendations. They claimed to oppose cuts called for in the budget resolution then under considera- tion in the House, but their perspective was quite dif- ferent from that of CBOs. In defending the work of the Dept. of Labor, officials cited increases, from 60% to 950/0, in the numbers of low-income people employed under CETA and, from $2.2 to $10 billion, in amounts spent on CETA. They asserted that DOL now includes small, neighborhood-based organizations as well as na- tional groups like the Urban League in the CBO cate- gory, and that Hispanics, Native Americans, and others are served more effectively than ever before. DOL of- ficials and White House representative Stuart Eizenstat also sought the support of conference participants in

getting the new Youth Employment Act passed. How- ever, in response to criticisms that the Department had failed to aggressively monitor prime sponsors- in most cases municipalities-and force them into compliance with CETA legislation, one DOL official passed the buck back to the CBOs. He said, "Prime sponsors have to do whatever's in their own best interest. This is political-you have to get the primes to be accountable to you." Many participants were frustrated and angered by what some described as "a barrage of bureaucratic self- praise," but others were heartened by the conference, saying that the DOL officials were impressed by the large turnout, and predicted a better response in the future to demands from CBOs. Equally frustrating for some conference participants was their trip to Capitol Hill. Over 40 CETA workers from neighborhood-based groups in the City had left

New York at the crack of dawn to let Congress know

how devasting CETA cuts would





munities. Without their organizations' CETA workers, they told the congressmen, housing rehabilitation and maintenance, senior citizen services, and many youth projects-services most middle · class people take for granted will be provided by the private sector or by government-would simply not have happened in their neighborhoods. But the congresspeople didn't want to listen to the people, because, as one put it, "We already support CETA - we are with you but we are bucking a very strong negative tide in both houses." Senator Javits and Congressman Rangel and Weiss urged the group to con- centrate on turning around representatives and senators who had favored the cuts and to pressure elected of- ficials at the local level. At the same time, Congressman Richmond promised to send a letter in the name of the New York City Congressional Delegation urging Mayor Koch to use the City's unexpended CETA VI monies to prevent the demise of projects whose funding was threatened. (This letter was sent on June 12th. To date no response has been received.)

Most of the CBOs at the conference run projects funded under one of two public service employment (PSE) titles, VI or lID. Since most cities stopped depen- ding so heavily on Title VI for municipal workers because of the imposition of strict limits on how much they could supplement a CETA-funded salary, they can- not be expected to lobby for its continuation. All the government people, including Secretary of Labor Ray

Tenants, community organizers, city officials and bankers-City Limits readers all-danced, drank, kib- bitzed and generally partied

Tenants, community organizers, city officials and bankers-City Limits readers all-danced, drank, kib- bitzed and generally partied at the magazine's June 1st benefit at City Limits, the bar, in Greenwich Village. Stormin' Norman and Suzy as well as Bernardo Palum- bo and Wendy Blackstone provided musical entertain- ment. Many thanks to the New York Urban Coalition, the Consumer Farmer Foundation and everyone else whose contributions made it a success.

Storm in , Norman at the keyboards and SuZy at the mike at City Limits benefit. Above right, Bernard Cohen, whose departure as editor was announced at the party, receives a parting poem from Association of Neigh- borhood Housing Developers director Betty Terrell.

Marshall, said that PSE is on the way out and will ul- timately be replaced by Title VII (private sector in- itiative program). Recognizing that 86-90070 of new jobs will be created by small and medium-sized businesses to which prime sponsors rarely have direct access, DOL favors CBO participation on Private Industry Councils and selection of CBOs as Title VII program operators. The head of DOL's Office of Comprehensive Employ- ment Development, Robert Anderson, even went so far as to suggest that CBOs should submit proposals to serve as "umbrella" organizations because they have a

The first New York/New Jersey Regional meeting of the national network of CBO's will be held on July 17 at Ci- ty Center, 130 West 56th Street beginning at noon. The meeting is open to any CBO representative or CETA participant. For more information call Michael King at 477-9078 or Susan Gould at 636-3486. 0


capacity-lacking among small businesses-to do all the paperwork required.

Clearly CBOs still must push for their own piece of the action. Their perception of this need led them to join forces across geographic, ethnic, project-focus, and size lines . On the last night of the conference and the next morning in the final plenary session, they launched a na- tional coalition to prevent any further cuts in CETA. Ninety-four people volunteered to serve on an ad hoc steering committee to plan a "mobilization"-focus- sing on Washington and on localities where CETA pro- grams operate-in support of CBOs and CETA. 0


Susan Gould is a proposal writer for the Pratt Center and has been involved as a supporter of the ANHD CETA VI program since its beginning.



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