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CITY LIMITS

OCTOBER 1980 .
$1.50
. voL. 5 NO.8
Counting New York's Invisible
-----People-----
A South Bronx Plan Again
A City View
Stabilizing the Landlords
by William Rowen
In 1969 when the New York Council enacted the Rent
Stabilization Law, general administrative powers were
given to the very industry regulated by the law. The
result was the statutorily mandated formation of the
Rent Stabilization Association, the so-called "self
regulating" real estate industry group that all landlords
of the city's 950,000 rent stabilized apartments are
required by law to join.
The ten year history of that organization has been one
of self-enhancement rather than self-regulation, and to-
day the RSA continues, unhampered by government, to
misuse its power and abuse its authority.
The establishment of the RSA was a compromise,
hammered out by a City Hall squeezed on one side by
tenant demands, and on the other by landlord political
power. Tenants, caught up in a severe apartment
shortage in the uncontrolled buildings constructed after
1947 and correspondingly large escalations in rent,
demanded controls.
Landlords, claiming that extension of rent control to
the newer buildings would destroy their industry,
begged to be allowed to regulate themselves. The
Lindsay Administration relented and sponsored the
Rent Stabilization Law.
The law created three new agencies: an enforcement
body, the Conciliation and Appeals Board; the Rent
Guidelines Board, that annually sets maximum levels of
rent increases; and the landlord administrative body
itself, the Rent Stabilization Association. The law
specified that the RSA's behavior would be subject to
oversight by the Department of Housing Preservation
and Development. Dues collected by the RSA would
fund the CAB, and not be used for any purposes outside
the administration of the law.
Since their creation, the agencies have optimistically
described their shared responsibilities as "government
and industry working hand in hand." Yet, the intended
beneficiaries of their activities, the more than two
million stabilized tenants, have consistently criticized
the system for failing to provide them with effective
protection. The response to such criticism has been buck
passing from one agency to another, as each cites the
failures of the others for their own inability to deal with
problems.
In the confusion and ineffectiveness generated by
these mutual blame-placings, the RSA has been given
the opportunity to spend almost $5 million in members'
dues in the past two years on self-serving activities be-
CITY LIMITS/October 1980 2
Mayor Koch addresses the Rent Stabilization Association breakfast
fundraiser in early June. RSA Chairman Sheldon Katz is at right.
yond those allowed by law.
RSA's funds are currently being used for these
prohibitive uses: lobbying campaigns in Albany and the
City Council; participation in suits on the side of real
estate interests having nothing to do with the rent stabil-
ization system; initiation of their own suits against HPD
and the Rent Guidelines Board when those agencies
displease the RSA.
The RSA has also used funds to conduct biased, self-
serving, inflated expenditure surveys of alleged landlord
cost increases in its attempts to justify the highest
possible rent hikes.
Despite these actions, HPD, under the Koch adminis-
tration, has been totally unwilling to bring the RSA into
compliance with the law. To the contrary, it has encour-
aged the RSA's role as the leading landlord advocacy
organization.
Recently, Upper West Side Congressman Ted Weiss
publicly cited the RSA for voting $4,000 per month to
Chairman Sheldon Katz for " expenses. "
Katz, affiliated with the virulent landlord organiza-
tion, CHIP, took over the RSA from the city's large.
landlords in a 1979 proxy fight. For its efforts in the
takeover, the RSA board last year voted to reimburse
CHIP $60,000 out of its treasury.
Last spring, the City Council's enactment of the fuel
cost passalong to rent controlled tenants amply demon-
strated the RSA's political clout. Formally requested by
the RSA, the legislation emerged from its negotiations
with HPD. Tenant representatives and groups were
excluded from every step of the process. During intense
efforts to drive the measure through the Council, HPD
continued on page 22

- (j}----

WHO GETS SUBSIDIES?
On June 20th, the neighborhood housing move-
ment and advocates of low income housing, led by
the National Low Income Housing Coalition, scored
a dramatic and surprising victory. The U.S. Senate
rejected a House approved plan to shift Section 8
monies targeted to benefit low and moderate in-
come families to a new Section 8 program that
would reallocate those funds for middle income ren-
tal housing.
The threat to divert these desperately needed low
income housing dollars is not yet over. Every indica-
tion is that the fight will be renewed next year in the
Senate. However, even more immediate, is the pos-
sibility that the House of Representatives plan for a
similar, scaled-down diversion, will win out when
the House and Senate Conference Committee at-
tempt to resolve the differences between their two
bills.
The issues are not as clear as usual , and while the
battle lines are drawn, it is difficult to tell friends
from enemies on this one.
The struggle traditionally has been to fight to in-
crease the allocation for subsidized housing, with
the issue of exactly who benefits playing a second-
ary role. However, this year, because of the growing
number of families-even with incomes as high as
$40,000 per year-in need of some level of housing
subsidy, as well as the pressure to spur new con-
struction to create jobs while at the same time
balancing the budget , the focus has shifted to the
issue of priority. HUDj and some in Congress, argue
that middle income families need less subsidy per
household; therefore, the same dollars expended
yield a greater number of housing units. But for
whom?
In addition, many observers, including some of
the staunchest supporters of low income housing,
have argued that development of a middle income
housing subsidy program will broaden the base of
support for all subsidized housing and that over
time, this political support will yield larger ap-
propriations for subsidized housing programs in the
future. They conclude by arguing that the long-range
benefit to low income families would be far greater.
While we agree that many moderate and middle
income families deserve some housing assistance,
we cannot in good conscience support any diver-
sion of housing funds to the middle class from low
3
income families whose needs are far greater and far
more immediate. People can't live in housing built
on promises-particularly often broken promises of
" long term" benefits if only they'll wait ... and wait
.. . and wait.
Instead of the disastrous course of diverting
scarce funds to middle income housing, we urge
Congress and the President to dramatically increase
the budget authority for low income housing and to
direct HUD to see to it that these monies and other
related programs, such as the Community Develop-
ment program, directly benefit our low and moder-
ate income population.
The victory in the Senate which eliminated the
proposed middle income subsidy program and
restored some of the house cuts in the Section 8
program, may, if we are not vigilant, be short lived.
We, in the housing movement, must be organized
and willing to engage in a long and sustained fight
to see to it that the House conservatives do not win
on this issue and that Congress and HUD resist any
future attempt to allocate funds for a middle income
housing program until the housing needs of our low
income population are met. 0
Correction
The article "Sealing Out Winter" in our last issue
contained an inaccuracy. The Association of Neighbor-
hood Housing Developers is providing training in
building weatherization for community people working
under CET A lines which it administrates, not Cooper
Union as the article stated. 0
.CITY LIMITSI
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 Assistance 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 (lSSN 0199-(330)
Editor . ................... . . . .. .. .... . .......... 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 the Scherman Foundation.
Cover photo by Marc Jahr
CITY LIMITS/October 1980
Where Are New York's People?
by Tom Robbins
Steven Glusman started work for the U.S. census last
April as a door-to-door enumerator in lower Harlem.
Within a few weeks he was made a roving troubleshooter
for census crew leaders in the area, which meant he saw
most of the streets covered in his district. At the end of
July he was dismissed for underproduction.
"The biggest thing that disturbed me," reflected
Glusman about his brief sojourn in the decennial head-
counting, "was that things didn't go quite by the book.
It was not what you'd call your model census."
Among the things that disturbed him, said Glusman,
was the way 7,000 individual apartments, which were
still uncounted as the first phase of the census drew to a
close, were "taken care of" within one week. "The
cases were all on paper," he said. "It was only by
violating census procedures that they were counted."
Anthony Harris worked for the census as a Field
Operations Assistant in the northwest Bronx. As an
FOA,Harris was responsible for a specific sub-section
within his 'census district and had several crew leaders
and many enumerators working under him.
In mid-June, Harris and three other FOA's were in-
structed by their supervisor to pull all the addresses still
outstanding in their registers. They were then told to
falsify responses for all those pending cases and classify
them as "Last Resorts"-a method of accounting for
cases where four unsuccessful attempts have been made
to contact someone at the address and information can
only be obtained from a neighbor . Harris and another
FOA refused and were later fired. The two others com-
plied, said Harris, and in this way over 4,000 house-
holds and their members were "counted."
Roberto Rabanne worked for the census in Manhat-
tan north of 135th Street. In his district office over
15,000 completed questionnaires were lost. Later,he was
told that some were found again, but for the others' 'the
gap would be closed."
As the deadline for the first phase of enumerating
drew near in the Lower East Side where Noemi Velas-
quez worked as an FOA, more than 150 people made
themselves known to census takers working under her as
having not been counted. Instead of having those names
added to the address register so they could be enumer-
ated, they were ignored, on orders from higher-up, so
that the books could be closed out and the phase com-
pleted.
During the same period it was discovered that a one
hundred-unit public housing project had somehow been
totally missed. Sought out by the project's manager,
CITY LIMITS/October 1980 4
Velasquez brought it to the attention of her supervisor.
However, instead of taking the manager's offer of dis-
tributing census forms to all the residents and making
sure they were completed, the supervisor insisted enu-
merators would have to go door-to-door in the building.
Most of the units were never counted.
Each of these census workers felt uneasy enough
about what they had seen and heard to bring their story
to the city's office on the census. They were later asked
to complete affidavits which were included in the city's
currently pending suit to enjoin the census bureau from
closing up shop until the city's allegations about an un-
dercount have been answered.
"We were being asked to do something physically im-
possible within the time frame allowed," Glusman told
City Limits. "Other people said, 'It can't be done-so
we're just giving them the figures they want.' I felt funny
about doing a job where bullshit was the bottom line."
Undoubtedly there are many other stories to be told
regarding the 1980 census in New York City, some of
which will eventually surface and many more of which
will not. But as the debate on the accuracy of the count
is only just reaching a crescendo, with the question of
estimates for the uncounted still to be decided, the tales
of those who actually participated in the counting are
instructive.
With the preliminary counts for 18 of New York's 20
Census Districts already reported, the worst fears of
those who had predicted a population loss in the city ap-
pear substantiated. The figures show a loss of almost 1.2
million people since 1970, with losses heaviest in these
communities which have been hardest struck by build-
ing abandonment.
While the city government has often been accused of
neglecting these areas, and even purposely trying to
reduce the number of people there, as far as the census
goes the city has been in the forefront of efforts to have
every person counted. That apparent inconsistency has
not gone unnoticed by census officials who have come
under the city's fire. "It seems pretty strange that they
can close schools and hospitals and then claim they are
not losing population," said David Schoner of the Cen-
sus Bureau's New York office for Local Review.
If there is such a discrepancy between the city's poli-
cies and the present rhetoric about the census, the rea-
sons are not hard to locate. In the past decade census
figures have been employed for establishing levels of
federal aid for everything from such blockbuster grants
as Community Development funds, highway aid and in-
dustrial development to subsidized nutrition for the
elderly and alcohol and drug abuse programs. Mayor
Koch has estimated that the city will lose $200 for every
uncounted resident.
Politically, the city may also pay a high price for a
large population drop. Four New York City Congres-
sional seats are in jeopardy and all are in primarily black
and Hispanic areas. Representative Robert Garcia's 21st
Congressional District may be the biggest loser nation-
wide. Seats held by Shirley Chisholm, Fred Richmond
and Charles Rangel are others that could be redistricted
out of existence.
New York iS,of course,not the only city faced with this
problem. Congressman Parr en Mitchell, who comes
from a largely black district in Baltimore and is a
leading member of the Congressional Black Caucus, has
suggested that the post-1980 census Congress may
resemble that of the post-Reconstruction era when
blacks who had obtained electoral representation were
swept out of Congress by the establishment of "Black
Codes" throughout southern states.
In an unusual move which may delay the expected re-
districting, the House of Representatives voted in mid-
August not to base reapportionment on the '80 census
figures . The thrust behind the vote, however, was not
concern with an undercount, but rather, that numbers
of illegal aliens will be included in the count. That move
has set off a number of sparks, not least of which is the
anger of Hispanic organizations which already expect to
be the most undercounted group in the nation, just as
they were in 1970.
"The constitutional provisions about apportionment
talk about persons, not persons with papers. The lan-
guage is unmistakable," said Dr. Michael Olivas of
H.O.P.E.-Hispanic Organizations for Political Edu-
cation. Olivas sees the House vote as one more indica-
tion of how Hispanics get shortchanged in the census
and the resulting apportionment. "The people most
likely to be undercounted demographically are Hispan-
ics," he said. "That can be argued by using the census's
own figures.
"We knew (the undercount) was going to happen,"
said Frank Nazario of the National Puerto Rican Forum
in New York. "It's not just a matter of inadequate plan-
5
ning. Hispanic placement wasn't high with the census
bureau."
Father Francisco Dominquez, director of the Office
for Immigrant Services for the New York Archdiocese,
said he has reluctantly overcome his hesitation about
advising parishioners who were illegal aliens to par-
ticipate in the census. "It's almost a vicious cycle," he
said. "There is necessarily going to be an undercount,
but our indications are that the population is pretty
much the same."
Apparently no one has been satisfied with the pro-
cedure for distributing Spanish-language forms. In
order to get a form in Spanish, a resident had to check
off a box on the form received and then mail it back,
then await another form in the mail. "You had to be
determined if you wanted to get counted," said Nazario.
These were not the only factors working against a true
count of the city's Hispanic population. The highest
concentration of Puerto Ricans and Latin Americans
are in neighborhoods such as the South Bronx, East
Harlem and the Lower East Side, all areas which have
borne the brunt of housing abandonment.
Clearly written definitions of how to classify vacant
and uninhabitable buildings were included in the census-
takers' manual, then updated towards the end of the
first enumeration phase. Nevertheless, the buildings of
New York's poorer neighborhoods present a bewilder-
ing array of different states of disrepair, and confusion
seems to have reigned as to what was truly abandoned
and what was not.
Buildings which are partially vacant, but where
families may still be living, are supposed to be entered
and counted. But for census takers working alone, as
most were, the buildings' darkened hallways and stairs
proved to be strongly inhibiting factors. Steve Glusman
recounts how on one Harlem street with many decaying
buildings, he was forewarned by neighbors not to enter
certain tenements.
As a result of both the well-perceived dangers and the
vague definitions, many partially occupied buildings
wound up being counted as vacant. Many of the city's
protests of the census's preliminary figures under the
on-going local review process are aimed at buildings
such as these.
CITY LIMITS/October 1980
M-Night: The Census Comes to the Bowery
by Paul Wasserman
"An adventure in enumeration." That's how the South
Manhattan district office of the 1980 Census advertised
M-Night, the Census Bureau's plan for counting Bowery
derelicts and all others who live in missions (hence the
"M"). Whether the massive convergence of a hundred or so
census employees upon the rundown hotels which line the
Bowery north and south of Houston Street was much of an
adventure for those being counted was doubtful. And for
those doing the counting, whatever sense of adventure
there may have been at the outset, quickly wore off, as the
absurd reality of M-Night became clear.
Given the shifting nature of the Bowery's population, the
Census Bureau's master plan called for enumerating all
hotels on the evening of April 8th, with some follow-up
work the next day. This was some two weeks before
regular census-taking was scheduled to begin, and a week
before enumerators were to be trained. As the big night ap-
proached, the South Manhattan office, thoroughly un-
prepared, and with a much heavier M-Night than probably
any other office in the country, plunged into chaotic last-
minute preparations.
Understaffed to begin with, a massive infusion of people
was needed. Two days before' M-Night, supervisors were
told to ask every one hired to work M-Night if possible.
Frantically, supervisors hit the phones trying to round up
all the still untrained enumerators. M-Night was to be their
trial by fire.
A little before four, the first of the new recruits began to
trickle in. With no idea as to what to expect, they were im-
mediately met with a barrage of forms to fill out and a
crowd of frantic supervisors trying to rush through the hir-
ing procedures they had only just learned. As the crowd
grew, chaos spread.
"Here, fill out all the forms in this folder:' they were told
repeatedly. '!Answer everything in this column, oh, except
question 10, no, question 11. Don't worry about Item C.
Sign here, sign there, uh, no, over there. Raise your left, uh
right hand and repeat after me 'I do solemnly swear to pro-
tect and defend ... foreign and domestic, so help me God.'
Okay, now go to that desk over there:'
Duly sworn and appointed, and thoroughly bewildered,
enumerators were handed envelopes containing census
forms, an assignment (the address of a mission), and in-
structions (two paragraphs worth). They were then given a
phone number to call in case of problems and told they
were expected to produce 40 completed forms during the
course of eight hours work. And off they went.
Assuming they wouldn't get paid, or perhaps be fired, if
they didn't meet the quota, some enumerators began a
desperate grab for potential countees once they hit the
"We talked about getting all the enumerators out in
the middle of the night on the Lower East Side," said
Noemi Velasquez, who was the only Hispanic super-
visory official in the Southern Manhattan district office.
"We could have gotten hundreds more people that way.
But we couldn't get any support for that idea. It was
hard enough just getting enumerators on hourly rates
instead of the piecemeal way they were paid to go after
hard to find cases."
CITY LI M1TS/October 1980
streets. Cornering everyone in sight, regardless of whether
the person lived in their assigned hotel, or had been
already counted, they ran down the long list of questions.
Not surprisingly, many ran into a good dose of hostility-
curses, threats and abuse. An air of pandemonium swept
over the neighborhood.
Snags were struck almost immediately. The special tele-
phone number was constantly busy. Those who got
through found the lone person at the other end knew little
more than they. Enumerators began to file into the hotel
whose lobby had become M-Night headquarters for the
evening. Here, they ran into the head of the operation, ap-
pearing totally harried and confused.
Outside on the Bowery, two higher-ups from the Region-
al Census Center moved happily up and down the street,
chatting jovially about the area's inhabitants and checking
that at least one enumerator was at work in each hotel. At
one particularly seedy establishment, a beleaguered enum-
erator labored alone. At the next, a smaller hotel, twelve
enumerators sat about with nothing more to do. The of-
ficials moved on.
The Men's Shelter on East Third Street was also over-
staffed, and it was decided to have enumerators return the
following day when many more men would be on hand for
the Shelter's chicken lunch, a weekly treat for many in the
area. But between the hungry men and a hot meal stood a
gauntlet of enumerators, some still desperate to meet their
quotas. Many of the diners had encountered census takers
the night before and were growing tired of being bothered.
Some mischievously answered for the third or fourth time,
having given different information on each go-round.
Others tried to make their way to the dining room in silent
hostility. A good number cursed and threatened, especially
if pursued relentlessly by an over-enthusiastic enumerator.
It was not a pleasant chicken dinner.
An air of pandemonium
swept over the neighborhood.
The two census honchos had managed to squeeze in a
much pleasanter meal on M-Night. Joining forces with
another crowd of officials they headed for a Chinatown
dinner. Then, bypassing the Bowery where frazzled enum-
erators still toiled, it was on to Little Italy for dessert and
coftee, and, finally, off to Times Square to check out the
action at yet another adventure in enumeration. 0
Paul Wasserman worked on the census in the South
Manhattan District Office.
6
One oft-repeated criticism of former census workers
was of the District Office Managers, many of whom,
new both to the neighborhoods and the city, were fresh
from Department of Commerce desks in Washington.
"Our D.M.'s eyes bulged when we got him out into the
field," said Velasquez. "We had told him what things
were like out there, but he didn't believe it until he saw
it."
Combinations of pressure and little understanding
from above seem to have led to high frustration levels in
many enumerators and supervisors. As a result, where
pressure was high, "curbstoning"--the falsification
of forms-was high as well. The pressure took its toll
even among those with a high degree of commitment
towards getting an accurate count. "You have to fight
the Census Bureau to get a good count:' said Velasquez.
At this point the city's census suit is in the same
stacked-up holding pattern as similar suits filed by other
cities around the country. New York has asked for either
an injunction against the closing of district census of-
fices or some form of relief. Presumably that relief
would be in the form of an agreed upon estimate for the
number of people missed.
But when the prospect of estimates is raised, the
waters grow considerably murkier . Some five million
persons were imputed to exist in the final 1970 census.
Almost without a doubt, this will be done again. How-
ever, whether it is constitutional to use figures inclusive
of estimates for apportionment purposes is a matter of
debate.
Indeed, the problems encountered in the 1980 census
may be such that future census takings will be done
quite differently. "We've been looking at the entire
nature of the work," said Mike Farrell, staff director for
the House Subcommittee on Census and Population.
"There's a possibility that the census is just outdated-
the country has grown so large and complex that we
may have to completely transform the census as we've
known it."
Some statisticians are advocating the census be scaled
back to serve just fundamental head counting. Since it
takes several years just to digest the data gained from
the census,it has been suggested that the information
gathering aspect of the work be split off. Such a pro-
posal was made in a House bill in 1976 but never receiv-
ed support.
Another possibility is to have a mid-decade census in
addition, as suggested by President Nixon in the early
seventies. Such a prospect, however, without dealing
with the difficulties of one census every ten years,
presumably would double the complications. D
Community Information Service
The Community Information Service (CIS), a special
project of the Center for Community Change, has open-
ed an office in Washington, D.C., geared to helping
community-based organizations solve low income
neighborhood residents' problems and provide services
on the local level.
CIS deals with such issues as neighborhood self-help
development, housing, commercial, and economic de-
velopment, reinvestment policy and legislation, and
energy programs.
For more information, write or call Roberto Nazario,
director, at 1000 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Washing-
ton, D.C. 20007. (202) 338-7211. D
7
PEOPLES HOUSING NETWORK
School For Organizers
FALL 1980
SAT. NOV. 8
10 AM-4 PM
TUES. NOV. 11
6-8 PM
TUES. NOV. 18
6-8 PM
SAT. NOV. 22
10 AM-4 PM
UNDERSTANDING COMMUNITY ORGANIZING
Instructor: Roger Hayes
TENANJ ORGANIZING
Instructors: Alban Calderon, Joyce Ketter
HOUSING COURT
Instructors: Bill Rowen, Barbara Schlift, Bill Whalen
RENT CONTROL/RENT STABILIZATION
Instructors: Michael McKee, Bill Rowen
TUES. NOV. 25 COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT
6-8 PM Instructors: Bill Frey, Pauline Wilson
TUES. DEC. 2 INSURANCE REDLINING
6-8 PM Instructor: Jim Buckley
SAT. DEC. 6 GRASS ROOTS FUNDRAISING
10 AM-4 PM Instructors: Tony Carrasquillo, Bart Bracken
TUES. DEC. 9 ANTIDISPLACEMENT STRATEGIES
6-8 PM Instructors: Will Baldwin, Mary Schneider
TUES. DEC. 16 TECHNIQUES OF LOBBYING
6-8 PM Instructor: Norman Adler
All Classes Will Be Held At Metropolitan-Duane Methodist
Church, 201 West 13th Street (Corner 7th Avenue), Man-
hattan.
FEES: Individual Tuesday classes $ 4.00
All Tuesday classes $20.00
Individual Saturday classes $12.00
All Saturday classes $30.00
Entire course $50.00
Discounts are available for organizations that enroll several people.
FOR INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION:
Yvette Grant 212/964-7200
THE INSTRUCTORS: Norman Adler is director of Political Action and Legislation,
District Council 37, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees;
Will Baldwin is In Rem project director of Morningside Renewal Council; Bart
Brlcken is a fund-raising consultant with Mass Fair Share; Jim Buckley is organizer
for the Insurance Redlining Committee of Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy
Coalition; Alban Calderon is an organizer with Crown Heights Progress Council;
Tony Carralquillo is director of the New York field office of the Youth Project; Bill
Frey is organizer for the Reinvestment Committee of Northwest Bronx Community
and Clergy Coalition; Roger Hlyel is director of training of Peoples Housing Net-
work; Joyce Ketter is director of South Fordham Organization; Michlel McKee is
director of Peoples Housing Network; Bill Rowen is coordinator of the Rent Control
Committee of New York State Tenant and Neighborhood Coalition; Barbara .SchliH is
a neighborhood planner at Los Sures; Miry Schneider is supervisor of South Slope
Committee housing clinic; Bill Whilin is an organizer with the United Committees of
University Heights; Pluline Willon is chairwoman of Bank on the Bronx, Wakefield
Chapter.
CITY LIMITS/October 1980
Funds and Direction for Community
Management Program in Dispute
by Susan Baldwin
A major controversy is brewins once again between
Community Management participants and city housing
officials over two touchy issues. One is the transfer of
$8 million in federal funds which had been earmarked
for rehabilitation of buildings in the low income neigh-
borhoods served by this program. The other, which is
perhaps even more complex, involves the city's plan to
place Community Management buildings in a separate
federal Section 8 subsidy program, a move many of the
groups oppose.
New plans for this money include placing $3 million
in the city's Participation and Article 8-A Loan pro-
grams. Five million dollars will remain in the other pro-
grams over which the Division of Alternative Manage-
ment Programs (DAMP) at the city's Department of
Housing Preservation and (HPD) has jur-
isdiction. Two million dollars will go to the Manage-
ment in Partnership Program, $1 million to 7-A Leas-
ing, and $2 million to a special boiler repair program.
Nineteen Community Management groups were
awarded $18,750,000 for the contract year ending
August 3i. This year 16 groups will receive $14,900,000,
representing a loss of $3,850,000 in appropriations from
the city's Community Development Block Grant funds.
With this year's Community Management budget cut
and the $8 million loss from last year, community
groups are questioning their acquiescence in HPD's
mandated rent increases.
Late in June, the groups had unsuccessfully lobbied
city officials and the Board of Estimate in an attempt to
get unspent monies from the Community Management
budget rolled over into the CD VI budget, which runs
from September 1, 1980, until August 31, 1981. Now
they are concerned that they cannot complete projected
and needed rehabilitation plans because the funds which
were once av.ailable in the CD V year budget have not
been rolled over as "accruals" into the new year.
"Obviously, we got a good deal of resentment from
the eight groups" who had to sign the letter to release
their funds, said Assistant Commissioner Philip St.
Georges, head of DAMP. "But, I still think we came
out well to keep most of it in DAMP. When a program
manages not to spend that much money, the Commis-
sioner can take it away." .
According to st. Georges, Commissioner Anthony
Gliedman had originally hoped to take the full $8
million in accruals and reallocate all of it to the Par-
ticipation and 8-A Loan programs.
"We only lost $3 million when we were faced with
losing $8 million," St. Georges argued. "I feel pretty
CITY LIMITS/October 1980
good about that; but I know Gliedman was under a
great deal of pressure. It was tough for me to make the
case I had to make."
Unused CD Funds
Eight community groups were asked to sign letters
giving up their claims to unused CD funds in their Com-
munity Management budget after the agency was able to
demonstrate their inability to use the funds within the
CD year. Among them were the Kelly Street Block As-
sociation, West Harlem Community Organization, Los
Sures, and Manhattan Valley Development Corpora-
tion. Kelly Street lost $500,000, or half, of its $1 million
budget.
Reacting to HPD's refusal to roll over the funds, the
groups have charged the agency with "motivations and
lack of principles" in the retraction of these funds.
Commenting on the loss of the $8 million, Margaret
McNeill, director of the West Harlem Community Or-
ganization and a founder of the Community Manage-
ment Group Coalition, said, "I am miffed that this hap-
pened, that the groups didn't spend the money and
didn't fight back to save it. There's no other way to say
it-$8 million could have gone a long way. We need it
to do our rehabilitation work." In
McNeill also said that groups were slowed down y
HPD's foot dragging on approving requests for fund g
specific projects.
According to Robert Roher, director of the Com-
munity Management program, the agency can be held
responsible for some bureaucratic hold-ups last year,
but that after that period of "gearing up, we treated
them as what they are-major rehabs. Some moved
through (the process), and others stumbled."
Both McNeill and Sondra Thomas, executive director
of the Clinton Housing Development Corporation, as-
sert that HPD creates a great number of "stumbling
blocks."
Bureaucracies
"I have been in this business of dealing with bureau-
cracies a long time. Believe me, you always have to be
careful of not being tripped up," said Thomas, who has
charged HPD with using the monthly budget statement
known as a CAMFR (Contract Agency Monthly Fiscal
Report), as a "tool to not allow groups to spend their
money."
"Theydon't provide enough technical assistance, and
the monthly CAM FRs are a lengthy process," she ex-
plained. "So what happens is that everybody is faced
with a lot of work, planning, juggling of figures, and, as
a result, the groups never get their timing or their pieces
8
together ... And HPD doesn't use this as a budgetary
tool." Rather, it is used as a "tool to control all ac-
cruals."
Groups members still argue that the city is trying to
"kill off" the Community Management program and
that it has been rather successful in convincing high level
officials that the program is too expensive and should
not be rewarded with funds which constitute outright
grants for major rehabilitation of the housing in the low
income neighborhoods served by the Community Man-
agement groups.
The other major issue of contention is an HPD de-
mand that Community Management groups carry out
most of their future building rehabilitations under the
federal government's Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation
program, but, according to information circulated by
HUD in July, this program "does not provide financing
for rehabilitation" and that " one of the best available
sources for this financing is CD funds."
Moderate Section 8
The groups have asserted that the moderate Section 8
program is inappropriate for their housing work
because their buildings are so deteriorated that it is
almost impossible to rehab them with tenants in place-
a requirement of this Section 8 program. HUD regula-
tions also do not permit the rehabilitation of any "walk-
up" structures higher than four floors , and they dictate
occupancy rules for the finished apartments. In addi-
tion, they do not favor rehabilitation of "old law" tene-
ments-buildings that constitute a majority of the sal-
vageable housing stock in a great number of the Com-
munity Management neighborhoods .
"We're certainly not going to be in the business of
moving people out of housing," said McNeill. "What
happens if you rehab a building (under this program) and
find that an old couple is occupying six rooms-too
much room under HUD' s requirements? .. And you
can't find them a smaller apartment .. . Are you going to
kick them out? The answer is no. This program is going
to be a lot oftrouble in our neighborhoods."
During the past month the Task Force on City-Owned
Property, a citywide organization which deals with
housing problems in tax-foreclosed properties, has been
conducting a survey of the community groups faced
with entering this Section 8 program.
Community Construction Companies
"We don't, as yet, have a final report on our find-
ings, but from what I hear, everyone thinks this will be a
disaster. This program really doesn't apply to most of
the housing because it's old law, and almost everyone
says it's cheaper to do rehab through Community Man-
agement rather than this way," said Marilyn Phelan,
assistant director of the Task Force. As an example of
the difference in prices between rehabilitation done by
the groups and developers (under Moderate Section 8),
she cited the figure of $18,000 per unit for a group rehab
and $31,000 or more for one done by a developer.
9
"Who' s going to pay for this," she asked, noting that
some of the larger groups are talking about forming
their own construction companies to handle this dilem-
ma.
"I guess we're saddled with this Section 8 program,
and I don't know how it will work," said Jose Acuna,
executive director of the Manhattan Valley Develop-
ment Corporation. "But, we're gearing up for the shock
and plan to take advantage of the situation to put
together our own construction company."
In the meantime, the Coalition of Community Man-
agement Groups has agreed to HPD's request for re-
structured interim rent increases of $35 a room if this in-
crease takes place within 18 to 24 months of a building's
entry into the program.
Three groups were dropped from this year's contract.
They are: Upper Park Avenue Community Association
Council, Inter-Neighborhood Housing Corporation,
and Brooklyn Comprehensive Corporation.
St. Georges and Roher cited scarcity of funds and
poor performance as the reasons for cancelling their
contracts. 0
Approved Community Management Contracts
Contractors Contract Amount
(CD cost plus rent)
Clinton Housing Development Corp . . .. $1,112,500
Development Outreach Corp. . . . . . . . . . . 1,340,205
Interfaith Adopt-A-Building .... . ... .. . . 1,297,088
Manhattan Valley Development Corp ... . 1,804,356
N.E.R.V.E., Inc ....... . .. . . . . ......... 1,319,668
United Harlem Growth. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500,620
West Harlem Community Org . . . .. .. . .. 1,457,850
Oceanhill-Brownsville Tenants Assoc .... 1,386,935
Southside United Housing Development
Corp. (Los Sures) . .. .. .. . .. . . . .. . .. 1,500,545
St. Nicholas Neighborhood Preservation
and Housing Rehabilitation ... .. .. . .
Sunset Park Redevelopment Comm . .. . .
Kelly Street Block Assoc . . . . .... . .. . . .
Morris Heights Neighborhood
634,030
635,771
844,330
Improvement Assoc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 577,196
People's Development Corp. .... .. .. .. 975,592
South Bronx Community Housing Corp .. 1,518,877
TOTAL .. . . ..... ..... .. .... .. . . . $18,016,299
* Includes rehab funds
NYSTNC AGENDA
The seventh annual membership meeting of the New
York State Tenant and Neighborhood Coalition will be
held the weekend of October 31-November 2 at the
Bergamo East Conference Center in Marcy, New York,
near Utica. The conference will offer a myriad of
workshops and strategy sessions on a wide range of
issues, including rent control, insurance redlining, com-
munity reinvestment, public housing and community
development funds. For information about registration
and transportation, call (212) 964-7260. 0
CITY LIMITS/October 1980
The Master Plan: A Modest Proposal?
Edward Logue has spent $4 million to develop plans to rebuild the South Bronx.
But the reviews, so far, are mixed and the money may be hard to find.
A stretch o/vacant land on Prospect Avenue at East 180th Street in the South Bronx where the South Bronx Development Office has
proposed new single/amily housing.
by Susan Baldwin
The revival of the infamous Charlotte Street project is
nowhere ,mentioned in the new South Bronx revitaliza-
tion plan, and, according to its author, master builder
Edward Logue, there is a good reason: "Mention of this
site only generates bitter controversy and memories that
work to defeat the future for the South Bronx."
The plan, known as the South Bronx Revitalization
Program, calls for major improvements in the areas of
housing, economic development, jobs, human services,
recreation, and education. But, although it has been in
the hands of major city government agencies for at least
two months, most city hall officials claim still not to be
in a position to discuss it.
"We're reviewing it right now, but you know it's
three thick volumes-a lot to digest," said Joseph
O'Brien, of Mayor Koch's press office. "It's also very
comprehensive and costs a lot of money-$200 million
a year. We don't have that kind of money . .. although
most of it would not be ours ... We'll make some sort of
statelll::nt when we're finished reviewing it."
One of the main focuses of the plan is an "early ac-
tion" proposal to build 266 units of single family homes
CITY LIMITS/October 1980
under the federal low interest mortgage Section 235
housing program in four targeted areas of the South
Bronx. It also calls for the immediate creation of at least
1,000 jobs through the development of an industrial
park on a 21-acre cleared site in the Bathgate section.
To date, there is no firm pricetag on this new plan to
revitalize the South Bronx, but Logue has confirmed
that it could cost $200 million a year to carry out this
"modest program" on a "proposal by proposal" basis
for a period of up to seven years.
"We carefully avoided saying 'these are the specific
needs of the South Bronx' and 'they will cost this
amount of money over this amount of time, adding up
to a couple of billion dollars,' because we know the
federal government does not make commitments for
that long," Logue explained, noting that his two-year-
old organization, the South Bronx Development Organ-
ization (SBDO), plans to present its program recom-
mendations to Washington on a yearly basis.
Hopes for revitalization in the South Bronx soared in
November, 1977, when President Carter came to deso-
late Charlotte Street and promised that the area would
10
take on a new life with the construction on this site of
new low income housing that would become the symbol
of the White House's commitment to decent affordable
housing for this area and the commencement nationally
of a serious urban policy for blighted and devastated
neighborhoods in the nation's older cities.
Rubble-strewn Charlotte Street still stands untouched
-a haven for stray dogs, homeless drifters, and unau-
thorized garbage dumping-while plans for major reha-
bilitation of this site are in limbo and plans for the revi-
talization of the entire South Bronx are still up in the air.
A recent visit to the area, however, revealed that all
hope had not been abandoned and that salvation could
be in sight. A freshly painted sign on a tenant-run, city-
owned tenement perched on the edge of Charlotte Street
read: " All welcome. Last Hope Tenants' Association."
It was the only occupied building on this desolate fron-
tier.
HThe people who moved out . .. our
middle class . . . I doubt seriously that
they would want to come back here even
if this 235 housing is built because the
name- the South Bronx-has become
so stigmatized."
What form of salvation is being proposed for the
South Bronx, the 13,000 acre, 20 square mile area below
Fordham Road that has encompassed varying levels of
devastation for over ten years and been home to six
struggling community planning boards engaged in stem-
ming the tide of this urban decay? What is the future of
this fragile area which represents 40 per cent of the
borough?
"We're hoping to do enough rehabbing to stabilize
areas like the [Grand] Concourse so people do not feel
pressure to leave," Logue said, adding that the thrust of
the new single family Section 235 housing will be to keep
people in the area who want more room or encourage
the return of others who moved to other parts of the
Bronx, Westchester, or northern New Jersey in search
of homes.
Under the 235 program, potential homeowners must
have a minimum income of $14,000 in order to purchase
a three or four-bedroom house. The maximum allow-
able income for this innovative program, which features
a four per cent mortgage for 30 years, is $26,000. Con-
struction costs and mortgages rates are being kept low
through the use of an Urban Development Action Grant
(UDAG), making it possible for eligible families to pur-
chase a three-bedroom home for $38,000 and a four-
bedroom one for $44,000. The required down payments
for the two are $3,000 and $5,000 respectively.
Critics of the Logue scheme charge that the 235 hous-
ing will not serve the interests of local residents most in
need of housing because the area income levels are far
below the required minimum $14,000 needed to pur-
chase a home.
"We have lost at least 25 per cent of our population
since the 1970 census, and I think it could be as high as
one-third or more," said Dana Driskell, district
manager .of Community Board #3, the neighborhood
board with the highest unemployment and most ravaged
housing in the South Bronx. "The people who moved
out were, for the most part, the ones with more income
-our middle class-who got out while buildings were
being demolished all over the district .. . I doubt serious-
ly that they would want to come back here even if this
235 housing is built because the name-the South Bronx
-has become so stigmatized."
Statistics compiled by the SBDO show the district
population declining from 151,000 in 1970 to 100,000 by
1977, a loss of one-third in seven years . They also reveal
that one-third of the housing stock has been demolished
in the past ten years, leaving 755 vacant buildings still
standing as late as 1979.
According to Driskell, city unemployment figures for
the Board #3 area are 20 per cent for adults and 50 per
cent for teenagers, but more up-to-date district calcula-
tions would estimate an unemployed adult population
of 40 to 50 per cent and youth group of 75 to 80 per
cent.
"The people here don't need to hear about homes
they cannot afford to buy or the promise of jobs that
don't exist," he said, asserting, " Just for example, we
need jobs here, but there is no plan to inform us of job
openings for local residents at the Bathgate industrial
park. We were supposed to hear about construction
openings and subcontractor job possibilities ... To talk
about these pie-in-the-sky plans is the same as believing
you'll win a lot playing three card monte."
11
According to Driskell, a more appropriate plan for
the district would feature the construction and rehabili-
tation of more low income housing subsidized under the
Section 8 program as family incomes in the Board #3
area average about $5,000 a year . Under Section 8, eligi-
ble low and moderate income families need pay only 25
per cent of their income for rent.
When Logue' s SBDO office opened in the Bronx two
years ago, it was staffed with two parttime workers. It
now boasts a staff of 70 with an annual budget of $4
million which runs out in October. Logue hopes that the
office will be refunded for the same amount-$2
million from the state, $1.5 million from the federal
government, and $500,000 from the city.
During the past two years, SBDO has been responsi-
ble for awarding 2,500 units of Section 8 subsidized new
and rehabilitated housing to the six community boards.
But, according to spokesmen in Boards #3 and #5,
favoritism has been shown to the other four boards;
"We are the most in need, particularly after the fiasco
with Charlotte Street where we lost 600 units and yet
we were awarded zero-nothing-during the first year,"
CITY LIMITS/October 1980
Driskell complained. "It was only after the first of this
year that they were embarrassed into approving 500 units
for this area-a figure that is a drop in the bucket."
"We knew what the needs of our area were and had
already put together our own comprehensive plan when
they came in here with their pretty color-coated maps
and started to operate as though our plan didn't exist,"
said Lorraine Holtz, district manager of Board #5, an
area in the northwest corner of the South Bronx where
planning board members would like to rehabilitate the
existing housing stock and build single family homes in
conjunction with the commercial revitalization of the
Burnside business district.
"We have a developer who would love to build 235
piggy-backed with the UDAG, but they tell us we're not
ready," she added, at the same time questioning SBDO's
decision to build this single family housing in four other
areas that, she maintains, are not any more suitable. In
addition, Holtz said, Board #5, to date, has only been
awarded 324 units of Section 8 housing, while Boards #2,
4, and 6, respectively, have received 596, 583, and 481
units with promises of even more.
Two supporters of the plan-the Rev. Louis Gigante
of Board #2 and Brother Patrick Louchrane of Board
#6-said that housing efforts in their districts would
have gone forward without the help of the SBDO office
and its plan, but that this study and its possible future
approval by the Board of Estimate could only help to
strengthen their plans. Both areas are targeted for 235 as
well as Section 8 housing.
Housing consultant Adonis Torres, executive vice
president of the South Bronx Community Housing Cor-
poration until his sudden resignation in July and a
former member of Board #1, said that if only "50 per
cent of the plan" were enacted, "it would start a renais-
sance in the Bronx, and if it doesn't happen, the Bronx
will be dead because it is already 50 per cent gone."
Torres resigned from the corporation after Juan San-
tana, the choice of former Councilman and Bronx po-
verty czar Ramon Velez, became the president. Santana,
who freely admits that he has a stormy relationship with
Logue, refused to comment on the plan. Torres was
Logue's choice for president in the corporation's hotly
contested election last May.
According to the SBDO plan, 2,433 units of Section 8
new construction, 3,062 of Section 8 substantial rehabi-
litated housing, and 2,500 units of moderate Section 8
are proposed for the near future. It also envisions exten-
ding a minimum of 100 low interest 312 loans annually
for improving one to four family homes and building up
to 1,000 single family homes. In addition, it suggests
that about one-half the rest of the development of the
South Bronx will be public housing under the auspices
of the New York City Housing Authority.
Critics of the SBDO plan contend that it is a gesture
made too late and offers too few concrete proposals to
effect a significant rebuilding of the South Bronx.
CITY LIMITS/October 1980
On the Char/otte Street site where the People's Convention was
recently held.
"All I can say is I wish Ed Logue good luck in his at-
tempt to do something in the South Bronx, but, just for
example, I think the 266 units of 235 housing is a spit in
the ocean," said I.D. Robbins, a local builder turned
columnist who is a strong advocate of 235 housing.
"He's in the middle of an unfortunate political situa-
tion, and, instead of letting the clubhouse types run the
city's housing administration, there should be some
compulsion to build on a scale that will make a differ-
ence ... You cannot expect to make a noticeable im-
provement in New York City if you don't create new
neighborhoods ."
Calling the proposed $200 million annual expenditure
on the South Bronx "too little, too late to have an im-
pact," Robbins added, "What we have going on now is
a public relations charade to make the White House
look better and insure the reelection of President Carter
. .. This also furthers Ed Koch's political plans rather
than redeveloping the South Bronx ... But, then, I'm
sure the White House will come through with something
-a rushed through Charlotte Street or some equivalent
-before the November election because the present
situation is an embarrassment."
Asked to comment on the new plan, former Deputy
Mayor Herman Badillo said, "It's about one-fifth of
what I proposed when I was coordinating plans for the
South Bronx. The mayor hasn't given it any support ex-
cept to say that it's a good document to study, which is
another way of saying, it's a good document to throw in
the waste basket.
"No one in this city or in Washington really wants to
rebuild in neighborhoods like the South Bronx," he con-
12
tinued, adding, "Everything I proposed was rejected.
This is why I resigned. But then, even if I proposed to
build a bamboo hut on Charlotte Street, they would op-
pose that too."
Ramon Velez, a long time enemy of both Logue and
Badillo, offered an even more virulent attack on the
plan.
"What is the city doing giving all this money to an in-
dividual who has already thrown millions and millions
of dollars in the sewer from his other big schemes," he
asked. "We need the cash. Why don't they do for the
South Bronx what they did for Berlin after the war-
have a Marshall Plan for the South Bronx ... This plan
is an attempt to castrate the community and make the
rich, richer, and the poor, poorer."
In the meantime, Logue's office is operating under a
60-day "ultimatum" from the mayor and the Board of
Estimate to find an employer with the potential of a 600
person work force for the South Bronx, who will be will-
ing to lease a warehouse that now belongs to the
Metropolitan Transit Authority.The MTA, in turn, will
move its operation to an alternative site.
... if only H50 per cent of the plan"
were enacted, Hit would start a renais-
sance in the Bronx, and if it doesn't hap-
pen, the Bronx will be dead because it is
already 50 per cent gone."
According to Ed Gold in SBDO's economic develop-
ment division, the office is making every effort in this
short period of time to find such an employer who will
also provide labor intensive, upwardly mobile jobs for
unemployed Bronx residents.
"What everybody says is true. We need housing, and
we really need jobs," said Xavier Rodriguez, a member
of Board #3 and chairman of the Bathgate Coalition, a
community-based organization that tried unsuccessfully
in 1979 to gain SBDO's support for its plan for an in-
dustrial park in Bathgate. According to Rodriguez, had
the coalition's plan been approved, the industrial space
would now be occupied by a company that had two con-
tracts-one a government contract with the U.S. Army
-that would have promised to employ up to 1,000 area
residents.
"I guess they just didn't think the community could
do it," he added, noting that his board and others are
upset with SBDO's proposal to create a local public
development corporation in the South Bronx that would
be answerable to the mayor and the Board of Estimate
but would be exempt from the Uniform Land Use
Review Procedure (ULURP), and, hence, would only
consult the community boards in an advisory capacity.
According to Logue and other city housing officials,
the proposed creation of the local development corpora-
13
tion to be known as the South Bronx Revitalization Cor-
poration is not an attempt to bypass the authority of the
community boards. Rather, they assert, it is a move to
speed up the implementation of proposed projects and
avoid a lot of the red tape and delay posed by ULURP.
Whatever SDBO's motives are, the question still re-
mains: Can the South Bronx be rebuilt under this plan
and are any commitments forthcoming from
Washington?
"We're going to fight very hard to rebuild the South
Bronx, and I see October as the month to leverage and
extract promises from Washington," said Stanley Fried-
man, Bronx Democratic County Leader. "Most of us
here were early supporters of Carter's, and the
Democratic Party here is more important than ever to
the White House with the [New York] Liberal Party
almost absolutely certain to endorse [John] Anderson
for president." The Liberal Party endorsed him in mid-
September.
In its effort to court New York's support, Friedman
pointed out, the White House has already promised to
allocate $6.7 million to the South Bronx for the con-
struction of 120 units of senior citizen housing and $3
million in economic development funds to rebuild
another vacated industrial park adjacent to Bathgate.
Formal announcement of the grants is expected
sometime in October.
"There is no doubt that there are differing opinions
about the South Bronx plan," concluded Ronald Shiff-
man, director of the Pratt Center for Community and
Environmental Development. "But we can work out the
nuances later. What is needed now is a commitment
from Koch and the President's office .. . The President
has to do this because it has to be one of the starting off
points for his urban policy-the barometer of how com-
mitted he is to an urban policy." 0
Tenants Win Rehab Battle
After a long, uphill battle, tbe tenants of 241
West 111tb Street bave won tbe rigbt to continue
to manage tbeir building under tbe city's Tenant
Interim Lease p,ogram.
.For more tban a year Cauldwell-Wingate, a pro-
mment Harlem development firm, bad been
figbting to keep 241 West 11Ub Street in its $10
million Neigbborbood Strategy Area (NSA)
package, requiring a substantial "gut" rebabilita-
tion witb federal Section 8 subsidy monies of ten
buildings in tbe area.
"We were determined to win, and we did;' said
Mable Smitb, a tenant leader wbo bas lived in tbe
building 40 years. "We didn't need a gut rebab."
According to Smitb, HPD bas agreed to repair
two fire-damaged apartments, clean tbe building
facade, and install energy-efficient windows and a
new elevator. 0
CITY LIMITS/October 1980
by Penny Wolfson
Former tenants of the Notre Dame Hotel on West
80th Street in Manhattan have won two important, if
tenuous, victories which could have far-reaching impli-
cations for other SRO tenants all over the city.
In one action at the end of August, Housing Court
Judge Harriet P. George handed down a decision that
holds the landlord, Fred Sztul, of the West 80th Street
Hotel Management Associates Corporation, account-
able for repairs on the building, although a vacate order
had been issued by the Department of Housing Preser-
vation and Development (HPD) after several fires
damaged the hotel.
Sztul had maintained that the vacate order was a
direct result of the fires; thus, he had no responsibility.
But Judge George ruled that this was not the case; that
the tenants had been displaced because of the landlord's
negligence in making repairs after the fires.
George issued an order directing HPD to make neces-
sary repairs on the 80-room single-room-occupancy
hotel at 251 West 80th Street. The order will allow HPD
to bill the owner for repairs, now estimated at about
$200,000, and to place a lien against his property.
A stay has been imposed on the ruling, pending an ap-
peal by the landlord's attorney. HPD Litigation attor-
neys have submitted a motion to have the stay lifted.
In another related action, the tenants have filed a $6.5
CITY LIMITS/October 1980
A City
Rescue Attempt
for a West Side SRO
million civil suit against Sztul charging him with harass-
ment.
And, in a nearly simultaneous but separate action, a
joint investigation by the Fire Department and the
Manhattan District Attorney's office produced indict-
ments against Paul Dhanraj and Michael C. Hill, re-
spectively co-owner and assistant manager of the Notre
Dame, on arson charges.
Dhanraj has been charged with second degree arson,
with a possible jail sentence of up to 25 years; Hill , with
third degree arson, punishable by up to 15 years in jail.
Both are charged with setting fires at the Notre Dame
January 21 and 26, the last and most serious of eleven
fires within a three-month period. Officials at the office
of the District Attorney would not say whether Sztul
himself was being investigated in connection with the
fires but said that "the investigation is continuing."
Repeated efforts by City Limits to reach Sztul proved
futile.
While Judge George's order has, for the time being,
been stayed, HPD officials see the decision as prece-
dent-setting in terms of their own enforcement powers.
"The order is very important," said Joseph
Shuldiner, head of HPD's division of Code Enforce-
ment. "Legally, we finally have an order which says
that an owner cannot use a vacate order for his own
benefit."
This is often the case in areas like the Upper West
Side of Manhattan, where an empty building with the
potential for renovation is often worth more than one
which is fully tenanted.
Judge George's decision came in response to a suit fil-
ed by Xavier Miller, one of the tenants of the Notre
Dame, who claimed the landlord failed to consistently
provide hot water or heat and other essential services
and was harassing tenants.
Miller said problems at the Notre Dame started about
two years ago when Stzul took over as landlord. He
originally chose to live at the Notre Dame, he said,
because it was one of the best hotels of its kind on the
West Side. In general, he said, the tenants were not tran-
sients, but families and some single people who lived
there on a more permanent basis.
14
But when Stzul took over, Miller said, conditions
began to deteriorate. According to Miller and Leonard
Powell, another tenant who has been instrumental in
achieving the victories, the management discontinued
maid and laundry service, threatened to evict tenants
whose welfare checks arrived late, and started moving in
a new group of tenants, including drug users, dealers
and prostitutes.
They also said the management, the West 80th Street
Management Corporation, made superficial improve-
ments, such as painting the hallways and putting down
cheap linoleum, and tried to increase rents by as much
as fiftY,per cent. According to Miller, harassment was
stepped up after several rent-controlled tenants filed
complaints with the Office of Rent Control.
"One of the women involved in the Rent Control ac-
tion, came home one day to find she had been locked
out of her room," Powell said, "Every time she came in-
to the hotel they had her arrested."
Beginning in September, 1979, a series of suspicious
fires broke out in the building. Essential services were
intermittent, according to Powell and Miller.
After the final fire, all essential services were discon-
tinued. In addition, a part of the furnace was taken out,
ostensibly for repair, and the pipes froze. Notre Dame
tenants spent one of the coldest weeks of the winter
without heat or hot water.
When HPD Commissioner Anthony Gliedman in-
spected the Notre Dame on February 4, he found
tenants using hot plates and candles to keep warm. The
situation was so hazardous that he issued a vacate order
on the building. About 50 of the tenants families were
relocated to the homes of relatives and to the Martini-
que and Regent Hotels-hotels used by HPD's reloca-
tion division.
Tenants were promised they would be allowed to re-
enter the premises in order to recover their possessions,
and in fact were encouraged to do so in order to keep
their tenancy established. But in early April, most of the
personal belongings of the tenants mysteriously disap-
peared. Tenants claim their rooms were broken into and
their possessions robbed or thrown away.
In addition, plumbing fixtures were apparently sys-
tematically broken. According to Jeffrey Haberman, an
HPD Litigation attorney who later entered the building,
"All the toilets were smashed, which didn't simply hap-
pen because of the fire. Sinks were disconnected from
pipes, there was debris all over, broken windows, holes
in the roof. In rooms where any possessions remained,
they were strewn all over the place."
The court order was not issued until August 20.
Shuldiner said the Notre Dame case received the atten-
tion it did simply because of the intensity of the harass-
ment and the damage.
"We know harassment goes on in many of these
SRO's," he asserted. "There's no way we are going to
prevent owners from converting low-profit use for
housing into high-profit use for housing. But we saw
what happened at the Notre Dame as a complete escala-
tion of tactics. And we feel if we 10n't break this par-
ticular owner, we think others will try to do it,"
Shuldiner added.
15
According to Shuldiner, HPD has three goals regard-
ing the Notre Dame: to restore it to SRO use, return the
original tenants to their homes, and make sure nothing
like this happens again. "At this point, we are not going
to let Mr. Sztul make any profit from it," Shuldiner
said.
"But," he warned, "if HPD is unable to get back into
the building soon, the agency's ability to replace the
tenants will be seriously impaired. The longer the court
proceedings take, the more likely the tenants are to scat-
ter, and the more costly the repairs are going to become."
Haberman is convinced, however,that a higher court
ruling that upholds Judge George's order could have a
great impact on housing laws in New York City.
"It depends on how broadly the Appellate Court in-
terprets Judge George's decision," Haberman said. "It
could constrict or expand the weapons of HPD. It could
give us broad injunctive relief for enforcing the housing
code. It could clarify the whole issue of vacate orders in
terms of tenant rights and owner obligations."
At the present time, HPD is handling the Notre Dame
under a 7-A proceeding and expects to move the tenants
back in after essential repairs have been completed, ac-
cording to Harold Shultz, head of HPD's Litigation
Bureau.
Any repairs that are made will be recorded as liens
against the building, making it "virtually" impossible
for the owners to seek a mortgage to coop or rehabili-
tate their property, Shultz explained. He also said that,
short of condemnation proceedings and offering to pur-
chase the hotel, HPD could not take possession. Even
with the 7-A proceeding in place, control of the building
can always revert to the owners.
But tenant leaders say they don't simply want a
triumph in the courts; they want their homes back.
"What we see on 80th Street now is what we've always
really wanted -a nice, clean block, patrol cars from the
20th Precinct always around, convenient stores," said
tenant leader Powell. "We are not going to let Fred
Sztul make us start at the beginning again."
Reverend Richard Virgil, chairman of the SRO
Tenants' Rights Coalition, which worked closely with
Notre Dame tenants, said of the case, "We are happy
with Judge George's decision, but until the tenants are
back in place in the building, we won't be happy. We
will never be satisfied with a philosphical victory." 0
Penny Wolfson is a freelance writer who is working
currently on housing issues in the Clinton community.
If You Are In Housing ...
Think about advertising your prod-
uct/services in CITY LIMITS.
CITY LIMITS/October 1980
The Troublesome Chemistry of a North
Brooklyn Bank Challenge
by Tom Robbins
Last February when members of a north Brooklyn
anti-redlining group spotted an announcement in the
state Banking Department's newsletter that the prosper-
ous Chemical Bank, the country's fifth largest commer-
cial bank, was applying for permission to open a new
midtown Manhattan branch, they decided to challenge
the bank's right to expand in that direction. Filing under
the federal Community Reinvestment Act, the Oreen-
P9int-Williamsburg Committee Against Redlining,
claimed that the bank's lending record in the low to
moderate income communities of north Brooklyn was
unsatisfactory.
Six months later the group's challenge was denied,
and while an appeal has been lodged, the anti-redlining
activists have harsh words about the way in which their
challenge was handled by the commercial bank's regula-
tor, the Federal Reserve Bank. "There was no due pro-
cess involved," said OWCAR member Cathy Herman.
"It was like an iron curtain was brought down once the
challenge was filed." What has most incensed the group
was the refusal by the Fed to grant a hearing where both
OW CAR and Chemical could publicly defend their
positions.
Dealing with the Fed was a new experience for the
anti-red liners , as most previous challenges have been
aimed at savings banks which have a different federal
regulator. But, that was not the only new aspect to the
protest.
The challenge created a complicated and often tick-
lish situation for some community groups who have
received grants, cash-flow loans and technical assistance
from Chemical. While in agreement with the basic
premise of the challenge, that Chemical has not done
enough to provide mortgage financing, particularly to
multi-family apartment buildings, in the area, some
large groups' have opted to sit out the controversy.
In addition, leaders of the anti-redlining group feel
that potential community support for their challenge
was whittled away after some smaller groups which had
gotten grants or assistance from Chemical received tele-
phone calls from bank officers asking them whether
they were happy with the way Chemcial had treated
them. Whether the calls can reasonably be interpreted as
pressure is a matter of dispute.
"The smaller the group, the easier it is to be intim-
idated," said Marie Leanza, Chairwoman of OWCAR.
"For some organizations it was a 'you don't cut your
nose offto spite your face' type situation."
Chemical makes no bones about having made inquir-
ies after it saw the protest. "A challenge comes in and,
CITY LIMITS/October 1980
presumably you have been doing things right," offered
Chemical Urban Affairs officer Juan Villanueva. "All
of a sudden we ask ourselves, 'Have we been doing our
job?' It was decided to make some 'how am I doing?'
calls. Some of that was interpreted wrongly."
An incorrect assumption may have been easy to
make, however, noted Villanueva. "How would you
feel if you're an itty-bitty group and the fifth biggest
bank calls up and asks you to evaluate them? It's silly,
but I can understand," he said.
One group that supported the challenge but was quick
to point out that Chemical has been "extremely cooper-
ative" with it is the Southside United Housing Develop-
ment Fund Corporation, or "Los Sures" as it is known.
Doug Moritz, Los Sures's director, pointed out that
Chemical has provided quick and vital aid for the
group's revitalization activities. The largest community
organization in the Southside area of Williamsburg, Los
Sures manages a large number of apartments and has
developed 345 rehabilitated units. "Chemical has pro-
vided short term notes, long term notes, seed money and
cash flow loans. They also capitalized our management
company and have pulled us out of payroll problems."
Still, insisted Moritz, "We are not dependent on any-
one. We have relied on Chemical to be a friend despite
this challenge and we hope they will recognize their
obligation to the neighborhood."
16
Ron Shiffman, director of the Pratt Institute Center
for Community and Environmental Development and
who has been a consultant to many community groups
confirmed Moritz's assessment. "Chemical has been the
only bank to take some risk with the work many groups
have been doing," he said. "We think their loan policies
should include multi-families," added Shiffman, "and
we'll do whatever we can to facilitate negotiations. The
government doesn't look so hot either, as far as Com-
munity Development loans go, so there isn't really any
leadership in that area."
Oiven its community involvement, why then was
Chemical chosen for the challenge?
"We were responding to specific community com-
plaints," said Cathy Herman. "Local people had been
coming to us for some time with grievances about being
turned down for mortgage loans by Chemical." When
the all-volunteer OWCAR began to examine Chemical's
lending record, Herman said, it found the bank's num-
ber of mortgages far lower than others.
According to Chemical's 0107 disclosure statement, a
document containing mortgage data required by state
banking regulations, while Chemical held $33,771,000
in its three north Brooklyn branches, it made only five
mortgages in those neighborhoods between 1975 and
1979. In addition, the group's challenge asserted,
Chemical had consistently denied mortgage loans for
so-called "mixed-use" buildings-structures that house
a ground floor commercial space with apartments above
it-when the loan applicant was the business owner.
Finally, the group charged that although Chemical
claims not to offer any mortgages for multiple dwellings
of more than four units, the bank's disclosure statement
listed eleven "mixed" in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
"The essence of the Community-Reinvestment Act,"
said Herman, "is that credit be extended uniformly
throughout the areas which a bank serves. Banks are
supposed to look at the credit needs of an area and at-
tempt to meet those needs."
Some movement appears to be underway, at least on
the issue of loans for multi-use buildings. Chemical has
agreed to re-evaluate its policy and participate in a joint
task force with other banks in the area to explore ways
of providing those mortgages. Chemical has also agreed
to remedy another of the group's complaints regarding
the refusal of one of its branches to open accounts for
tenant associations without requiring tax identification
numbers.
But clearly the biggest obstacle is the disagreement
over the offering of multi-family mortgages, a problem
with which GWCAR had hoped the Federal Reserve
Bank would be helpful. The Fed, however, saw things
differently. "We're not about to require any bank to of-
fer a credit product it doesn't want to," said James
McAfee, a senior attorney in the Fed's legal division.
"Our concern is if they decide to offer it, they do so
evenhandedly.' '
"The bank's policy is that we do not make multi-
family mortgages," said Villanueva. "For programming
purposes, condominium loans are listed as multi-family
mortgages. And we do have some multis we've picked
up through acquisitions of other banks. But our policy
is not to make real estate investment loans."
GWCAR, however, would have preferred that what
they see as a discrepancy in the bank's lending policies
be fully examined in an open hearing. In its order ap-
proving Chemical's application, and denying GWCAR's
challenge, the Fed said it had found no major conflict of
facts, and, therefore, no reason to hold a hearing. "It
was felt that Chemical's positive community involve-
ment outweighed the objections," said McAfee. The
order, issued by the Fed's Board of Governors, also
noted that the challenge had not been received within
the allotted time period, and therefore precluded Board
consideration of the appeal for a hearing. That last
point caused considerable irritation to GWCAR
members.
"The Fed dealt with us in a deceitful way all along,"
said Herman. "They never told us what the operating
procedure was or if we had x number of days to request
17
a hearing. And when we were told by the Federal Re-
serve Bank in New York that our challenge was being
handled locally, it had already been passed on to Wash-
ington." In fact, GWCAR had missed the Fed's dead-
line for hearing requests, despite having responded
promptly to the application announcement. The group's
initial efforts were aimed at the FDIC under the mista-
ken assumption that it was the bank's regulator.
"If I was handling it," said Herman, "I would've said
'Look, you've missed the deadline.' But we were never
told that. Instead all summer we were told no decision
had been made yet on the hearing. If that was incompe-
tence, then it was so great as to deny us our rights under
the CRA." The New York Federal Reserve Bank was
unable to respond to GWCAR's charges because the of-
ficer who handled its case is no longer connected with
the bank.
GWCAR hopes to link up with other anti-redlining
groups to examine the Fed's overall dealing with chal-
lenges under the CRA. The Fed ,has never denied a
bank's application, although iv' has attached conditions
to one bank's approval anq requested commitments
from four other banks to log the number of credit
applications received. \ I
In the meantime, both GWCAR and Chemical expect
to keep talking. "I think we're past the biggest hurdle,"
said Villanueva, "and we're continuing to discuss not
just the past but the future as well." 0
NEW PUBLICATIONS
Neighborhoods: A Self-Help Sampler. Available from
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. (Stock
Number 023-000-00559-0); $5.50 a copy. The Sampler
uses a series of narratives by people active in self-help
projects to describe how they got neighborhood sup-
port, raised funds, and created new approaches to hous-
ing rehabilitation, economic development, arts and
culture, and social services.
Neighborhood Economic Development. An informa-
tion calendar . Available from Pratt Institute Center for
Community and Environmental Development, 275
Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11205. Tel: (212)
636-3486. A wall calendar featuring information and
contact sources for economic development-related sub-
jects such as neighborhood economic development,
organizing, neighborhood preservation and revitaliza-
tion, community land trusts, cooperatives, energy con-
servation and appropriate technology, small business,
minority business development, worker self-manage-
ment, and labor statistics and trends.
CITY LIMITS/October 1980
Rehabbing Community Management
- An Exchange
To The Editor:
I find your editorial, Rehabilitation For Whom?
(August-September) 1980, short sighted and just plain
inaccurate.
It is always simple, and sometimes convenient, for the
community housing movement to use its substantial pol-
itical influence and many prominent voices to fight for
various causes. In this case-the fight to keep Com-
munity Management rehabilitation as a solely Com-
munity Development funded activity-I believe that the
fight is short sighted and already over.
HPD chose to make available 500 units of Section 8
Moderate Rehabilitation funding to the Community
Management Program when it became apparent that the
Community Management Program would not be fund-
ed at the same $18 million dollar level during the up-
coming year as it was in CD Year V just ended. Indeed,
the Mayor and the Board of Estimate finally agreed
upon a $14.5 million dollar Community Management
budget for CD VI.
HPD's effort to add Section 8 Moderate Rehabilita-
tion funding to Community Management is a serious,
long term effort undertaken in good faith to maintain
the vital rehabilitation component of the program. We
realized that the annual competition for CD funds will
only become more intense in upcoming years. Last year
alone, over $1 billion was requested by all citywide
groups and City agencies, yet only $259 million was
available to New York City. Section 8 Moderate funds,
however, can continuously be made available to Com-
munity Management on an annual discretionary basis
from HPD's set aside if our efforts this year prove suc-
cessful.
This, if we can make Section 8 Moderate a viable
funding vehicle for community management rehabilita-
tjon, there is some assurance to the groups and to the
program, that /this f1Jnding source can be more stable
and less political over the long term.
To call HUD's offer of 221(d) 3 and 221(d) 4 mort-
gage insurance and interest subsidies an opportunity for
developer rip offft or an unworkable program is untrue
and unfair. HUD did not have to make these mortgage
insurance programs available and did not make them
available for privately owned buildings in the Sec. 8
Moderate Rehab Program. I believe their providing
such insurance is a good faith effort to make this ap-
proach workable for Community Management. Neither
HPD nor HUD has insisted that Community Manage-
CITY liMITS/October 1980
ment groups team up with developers. Groups can elect
to act as developer/contractor themselves if they choose
this route. HPD and HUD have certainly not dictated to
groups, if they select developers, what agreement to
make with a developer on profit sharing. Nor do these
programs require that rehabilitation costs reach $35,000
per unit. If Community Management groups can con-
tinue to bring projects in at $20,000 per unit and less,
everyone will be delighted.
HPD and HUD are seriously working to make Sec-
tion 8 Moderate Rehabilitation a real part of Commun-
ity Management this year. There are problems to be
overcome-I would be the first to acknowledge that-
but HPD and HUD are making every effort to resolve
these problems and implement this program during CD
VI. Numerous meeting between HUD, HPD and the
groups have already been held to resolve these issues. I
believe we will succeed.
It's always easy to point fingers at HPD and talk
about what "the City" has not done. I could also
engage in finger pointing or accusations:
- City Limits fails to acknowledge that in the 15 new
Community Management contracts beginning
September 1, 1980, 10 of the Groups received
$3,459,801 in C.D. funded rehabilitation monies.
This C.D. funded activity will keep these groups ac-
tively rehabilitating buildings while Sec. 8 Moderate
processing proceeds and issues are resolved.
- Last year an $18 million dollar Community Manage-
ment Program actually spent only $9 million of its
available funds-one reason that the budget planners
and City officials supported a decreased C.D. VI
allocation. Most of the unspent funding was for re-
habilitation projects which the groups could not get
underway.
18
- After eight years of existence and over $30 million of
Federal funding the Community Management Pro-
gram has not resulted in the sale of a single building
to date. Is that a successful program worthy of great
rewards?
I call upon City Limits to cease its rhetoric and to
seriously work with HPD, HUD, and the Community
Management groups to make this program a success.
Philip St. Georges
Assistant Commissioner
Dept. oJ Alternative Management Programs
To the Editor:
The Community Management Coalition, comprised
of all of the community management groups, whole-
heartedly agrees with and supports the views projected
in the City Limits editorial "Rehabilitation for
Whom?" (August/September 1980). The HPD decision
to fU:1d rehab projects in Community Management
buildings through the new Section 8 moderate Rehabil-
itation Program and FHA financing mechanisms,
rather than through direct Community Development
Block Grant funds, radically alters the Community
Management program.
Tenant ownership has been a goal of the Community
Management Progam since its inception. Both HPD
and HUD have refused to acknowledge that the pro-
posed change in funding and financing will effectively
block the attainment of this objective. While neither
agency has dictated that groups should pursue either 221
(d) 3 or 221 (d) 4 insurance, they have strongly recom-
mended using 221 (d) 4. Considering the 10070 equity
requirement and the tax shelter mechanism necessitated,
the creation of tenant-owned coops after rehabilitation
becomes an impossibility.
Furthermore, Section 8 regulations require private
ownership prior to rehabilitation. Thus, either the Com-
munity Management Group and/or the developer must
purchase the buildings from the City. This places the
group in a very opportunistic light in the eyes of tenants.
It can only lead to distrust on the part of tenants who
consistently have been promised the right to purchase
their buildings directly from the City.
Thirdly, should the CM group opt for using 221 (d) 4,
the small number of units allocated to each group makes
the participation of a developer highly unlikely. In early
August HPD agreed to convene a meeting between
selected developers and CM groups to work out this
problem. To date, no meeting has been held.
In addition, it has become increasingly apparent that
the proposed program will not be adequate to bring
buildings up to HUD's minimum property standards. In
many neighborhoods old-law tenements and walk-ups
are the backbone of the community and most likely to
go In Rem. Neither HPD nor HUD has attempted to
rectify this glaring deficiency in the plan.
Finally, the cost of rehab under the Section 8 program
will increase dramatically. If brick and mortar costs
remain at $15,000 to $20,000 as under the present
program, the total development cost per unit will reach
$35,000. Some of this increase represents financing
costs while another part is development costs. If the
Federal government and HPD are looking for cost
effectiveness they will get it through CD funded rehab,
not the new Section 8 moderate program.
HPD has, as usual, attempted a quick but facile
change from one program to another with no transition
period at all. Although several groups have received
CD rehab monies to complete projects either begun
or in the planning for a long time, ten groups have been
left with only the faint possibility of making the new
Section 8 program work. It was not until May of this
year that HPD announced its intentions. Groups that
had already begun planning for rehabs in the coming
contract were left with only unanswered and possibly
unanswerable-questions. Many buildings are now in
limbo.
As you stressed in your editorial, the Community
Management Program has been effective in raising
living standards for low and moderate income tenants in
City owned buildings. The Coalition has been working
with HPD to develop a sales procedure satisfactory to
the Attorney General's office, the groups, and the
tenants so that the program can attain its ultimate goal
-the creation of tenant-owned cooperatives. We, as
much as HPD, are eager to sell buildings. Our goal is to
ensure that the buildings survive after sale.
The Community Management Coalition
To The Editor:
Carol Smolenski's letter to City Limits (June-July,
1980) is an excellent example of how an inexperienced
individual attempting to help tenants can in fact do
more harm than good. By giving tenants false expecta-
tions about the progress of rehab work Ms. Smolenski,
in her attempt to help, may have over stepped her role,
misguiCled the tenants, and jeopardized the working
relationships between the tenants of 590 Parkside and
the people who are trying to help them: The Crown
Heights Management & Maintenance' Co. (CHMM), the
Coalition Management Training Corp. (CMTC) and the
Division of Alternative Management Programs
(DAMP).
590 Parkside has indeed had a difficult time since its
initial entry into a City subsidized program. But neither
the Division of Alternative Management Programs nor
the Community Management Program can be held re-
sponsible for these troubles. It is wrong to hold, as Ms.
Smolenski does, an entire city-wide program responsible
for the shortcomings of individuals. Such accusations
are even less justified when you are aware, as Ms.
Smolenski is, that it was HPD officials who required the
necessary staff changes to protect both 590 Parkside
and the interest of its tenants.
Since its e ~ t r y into the Management In Partnership
Program (MIPP) in May of 1979, considerable progress
has been, made toward completing the necessary repair
work in 590 Parkside. Several months of work were
devoted just to catching up and solving some of the in-
herited problems. Considerable progress has now been
made toward permanently stabilizing the building. As
of June of this year, CMTC and CHMM have spent
$159,000 and completed over 70"70 of the repair work,
although only 40% of the work was scheduled for this
year. This progress, however, has not been easy as
CMTC and CHMM are having great difficulty meeting
the program's committment to use local contractors. All
too often, contractors either do not have the skills or are
unable to meet their own production schedules due to
their difficulty finding and keeping skilled employees.
Nonetheless, rehab work is progressing and vacant
apartments are being repaired and rented.
But Ms. Smolenski knows all this. Even after having
been given the courtesy of full and open discussion with
both the program director for the City and CMTC's
Vice President of Property Management, Ms. Smolen-
ski feels she knows better. Even after witnessing the
resolution of problems through open discussion bet-
ween CHMM and the tenants of 590, who now meet bi-
weekly to discuss those issues, she seems to feel that
there is an advantage to blasting the very people who
helped her and who are trying to help the tenants.
As a community organizer, Ms. Smolenski should
learn that there is no magic in the Alternative Manage-
ment Programs. They require a good deal of hard work
CITY LIMITS/October 1980 20
by tenants, community groups and city officials alike.
Renovation work with tenants in occupancy is always
difficult-it is even more difficult when you try to com-
bine social concerns and involve local contractors who
have not had an equal opportunity to develop their
skills.
Carol Smolenski replies:
William Eimicke
Deputy Commissioner
Office of Property
Management
The intent of my letter about 590 Parkside Ave. in the
June-July issue of City Limits was not to condemn
Alternative Management Programs but to point out that
they are not all beds of roses.
Obviously Alternative Management should not be
junked just because there have been difficulties. The
obstacles the programs face are enormous. But neither
should individual problems at individual buildings, like
590 Parkside, be kept a secret.
Criticism of public agencies is commonplace. I am
sorry that HPD's reply was more personal than factual.
Proposals Received
for New Section 8 Program
"Moderate Rehabilitation," a scaled-down version of
the federal government's Section 8 substantial
rehabilitation program, which has been the main tool
for reclaiming abandoned apartment buildings for low
income tenants, was launched in New York City this
summer. The first "mod rehab" is now in construction
in Flatbush, and the city is presently mulling over 88
other proposals.
Unlike its big brother, the moderate rehabilitation
program is aimed mainly at buildings where tenants are
still in place, although unoccupied buildings where ma-
jor rehabilitation is not needed are also eligible. The city
has targeted the bulk of its moderate rehabilitation
funds at buildings it has inherited through tax default.
In June, the Department of Housing Preservation and
Development announced the availability of $25 million
in funding for rehabilitation of 3,584 housing units.
Three thousand of those units were to be city-owned,
HPD said, and the rest privately owned.
However, by its September 2nd deadline for applica-
tions, the city had received applications for more than
7,000 units and the breakdown did not match the city's
preferences. Received were a total of 43 proposals for a
total of 4,035 privately owned units. Another 43 pro-
posals were received for city-owned buildings, but for a
total of only 2,916 units. 0
Complaint Cites Misuse of Community Development Funds
A citywide housing coalition has filed a complaint with
the Department of Housing and Urban Development,
charging the city with plans to illegally and improperly
use some $270 million in Community Development
funds this year.
According to the organization, known as the New
York City Housing and Community Development
Coalition, the funds, which by law are to be directed
for use in low and moderate income neighborhoods,are
instead being targeted to fund programs that could
benefit upper income residents living in CD-eligible
census tracts and to pay for city services, such as fire
prevention, salvage, sanitation and pest control-ser-
vices that the city would have to pay for with funds
other than CD monies if the Community Development
Block Grant (CDBG) program did not exist.
In its challenge, the coalition asks HUD to redirect
funds into "projects and activities directly benefitting
low and moderate income persons" in compliance with
the CD Act of 1974, as amended. According to the
complaint, the most serious violations of the law are:
the city's failure to satisfy the test that 75 per cent of
its program principally benefits low and moderate in-
come persons;
the city's failure to document or substantiate benefits
to low and and moderate income persons;
the city's failure to develop legally sufficient strate-
gies for housing, economic development, displacement,
and equal housing and employment opportunities;
the city's failure to adequately provide for citizen
participation.
"So far we have been very frustrated in our dealings
with HUD, "said Lisa Kaplan, one of the coordinators
of the coalition that comprises some 500 members from
nonprofit neighborhood housing and technical assist-
ance organizations in New York City. "HUD's attitude
is very 'pro forma,''' she explained, noting that the
agency goes "through the motions of monitoring the
city" but does not subject its CD budget to any serious
scrutiny even though it is the "single biggest entitlement
city in the United States" with a CD VI (entitlement)
budget of $259,948,000.
Including reprogrammed or "rolled over" funds
from CD V, New York City is expected to receive
$271,973,974 in the CD VI year, running from Sep-
tember 1, 1980 to August 31, 1981.
HUD approved the city's CD VI application August
29 and, with the exception of finding fault with some
minor details which must be cleared up in 60 days, it
gave the green light to the city's plans for the CD funds.
In particular, the coalition is challenging the city's
application of the Participation and Article 8-A Loan
programs which, it claims, has been and continues to be
used to benefit non-eligible (because of income) res i-
dents in neighborhoods located in CD-eligible census
tracts . It also asserts that the 8-A program is for the
most part, inapplicable in low and moderate income
buildings as the majority of them are city-owned
because they are in tax arrears . In order to qualify for
this program, tax payments must be up-to-date.
In its complaint, the coalition also cites inappropriate
low funding of programs like Community Management
(cut from $16.5 in CD V to $14.5 million in CD VI), and
Sweat Equity ($800,000 for CD VI), that do benefit low
and moderate income neighborhoods.
The coalition plans to meet with HUD's New York
Area Office in mid-October and has extended an invita-
tion to Robert Embry, Assistant Secretary, Community
Planning and Development in HUD's Washington
office, with hope that HUD will focus more seriously on
the defects of the city's CD VI application. 0
The City Maps a New
Fair Housing Strategy
A new strategy to assure equal opportunity in the
housing market has been developed by the city's Fair
Housing Task Force and will begin implementation in
October. Many months in creation, the strategy calls for
a broad network of services including public outreach,
housing counseling and legal representation for com-
plainants which will be directed and administered by the
City Commission on Human Rights .
The city plans to contract with the Urban League to
set up housing counseling outposts in four boroughs.
An additional contract, with the Urban Coalition, will
provide $72,000 for a publicity and outreach campaign
about the program. The entire projected cost of the new
strategy is $300,000 for one year.
A previous city contract with the Open Housing
Center to provide fair housing services was terminated
by the city last February. Negotiations between the city
and OHC on a new contract broke down this summer
over disagreements concerning the amount and kind of
services the Center would provide. The city is obligated
to create a fair housing policy by the federal government
which provides funding for the work. The federal de-
partment of Housing and Urban Development mandated
last year that the city improve and enlarge its fair hous-
ing efforts, and HUD has frequently prodded the city to
speed up its planning since then. Many fair housing ad-
vocates have been extremely critical of past city efforts
to assure equal opportunity, charging that the city ap-
peared to show little interest in the problem. 0
21 CITY LIMITS/October 1980
Continued from page two
Commissioner Anthony Gliedman and RSA lobbyist
Donny Evans were seen working the Council floor
together to overcome the opposition of tenant groups
and sympathetic council members.
On the same day this past June that the Rent Guide-
lines Board was voting the highest rent increases in its
history, the RSA staged its annual "legislative break-
fast" with Mayor Koch and Commissioner Gliedman as
speakers and fundraising draws for the $30-a-head
event. Proceeds from the breakfast were earmarked for
the RSA's new political action front group, the
"Housing Council of New York." Katz is evidently not
content merely being the Koch Administration-annoin-
ted housing czar of New York. However, this is the very
type of illegal activity for which the Beame Adminis-
tration censured the RSA in 1977, when the front group
was called "Citizens for Better Housing." That group
was caught red-handed being operated out of RSA's
offices, using RSA staff and resources to help lobbying
efforts against the extension of the Emergency Tenant
Protection Act, a law the RSA is charged with admin-
istrating.
The most immediate effect of the RSA's hyperactivity
is to deprive the Conciliation and Appeals Board of the
needed revenues for enforcing the provisions of the
Advertisement
RSL. Presently, the CAB has a growing backlog
between 10,000 and 15,000 of unresolved complaints.
The average processing time for a tenant complaint is in
excess of one year. A CAB budget increase request from
$2.6 million to $4.2 million has apparently been rejected
by HPD, despite evidence that much is needed to resolve
the ever-increasing number of rent increase protests.
Presently another action is planned which will further
incapacitate the CAB, while strengthening the RSA.
Commissioner Gliedman has agreed to allow the RSA to
provide funding for the recently approved transfer of
the senior citizen rent increase exemption program from
the CAB to HPD. Whether the RSA can legally
contribute to HPD in the absence of any statutory
authority is an open question. The cost could run as
much as $250,000 per year, funds badly needed for the
CAB's overstrained operation.
The coming year will see the expiration of the Emer-
gency Tenants Protection Act, as well as other tenant
protection laws. The alliance of the Koch administra-
tion and the RSA clearly spells trouble for renewal of
that legislation or any other pro tenant acts. 0
William Rowen is Southern Region Chairman of the
New York State Tenant and Neighborhood Coalition.
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Housing Dept. Changes
Manuel Mirabal, former Assistant Commis-
sioner of Relocation, has been named Assistant
Commissioner of Community Development at
HPD. He replaces Charles Reiss, who has been
serving as acting Deputy Commissioner of the Of-
fice of Development. Reiss has assumed the depu-
ty commissionership once held by Peter Joseph.
Robert Robbin, HPD's general counsel for
many years, has resigned to become director of the
cooperative unit in the State Attorney General's
office. His deputy director at the state post is Rita
Dattola, former director of sales at HPD. No re-
placements have been named for their positions.
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LANDLORD STABILIZATION p. 2
TAKING THE CENSUS p. 4
COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT DISPUTE p. 8
A NEW SOUTH BRONX PLAN p. 10
RESCUE OF AN SRO p. 14
BANK CHALLENGE IN BROOKLYN p. 16
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