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FEATURES
BLACKS NEED NOT APPLY ........ 6
Starrett City advertised "The Good Life" in the late seven-
ties, but blacks and other minorities were offered just a
30 percent share of that dream. Management said higher
numbers would cause the 6,000-unit project to "tip."
Some rejected black applicants sued, but no trial was
held because this past spring, a tentative settlement was
reached. Minorities, however, would still be restricted
and the Reagan Administration-for its own reasons-
has challenged it. Here, a former Starrett rental assis-
tant gives the untold story of how Starrett kept minori-
ties out.
TAX BREAKS BY CHECK-OFF ...... . ..... 10
The Mayor's new automatic tax incentives for business
and industry open the door even wider to public subsi-
dies without public benefit.
THE CITY TRIES OUT TWO-FAMILY
HOMESTEADING ................ . ..... 13
For the first time, the city is offering some of its more than
1,000 tax-foreclosed small homes for homesteading.
Despite claims, other cities are, "!ay ahead.
HISTORIC NEGLECT . .. ... ... ... . ..... . 15
Even though rent increases and a city loan have been
granted, tenants of an pistoric Greenpoint building can't
_get repairs.
DEPARTMENTS
The Neighborhood Newsstand ....... . . . .... . ... 3
Short Term Notes
East Harlem Organizers: It Won't Happen Here . 4
Tenant's Victory Pays off for Homeless . . .... . .. 5
Westway Statement Due. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 5
Funding
Community Groups Rate City Programs . .. ... . . 18
Legislation
A Lackluster Congress-Hope for Change ... .. 21
Tactics
City Planning Computers Map the Neighborhoods 23
People's Art
Drama for Organizers .... . .. .. .. ... .. . ... . .. 24
Poem
Of South Bronx Blue .. . . .. ........ .. . ....... 26
Review
Organizing Congregations .... . . . . . ... . . .. .. . 28
Resources/Events ..... .. . . . . . .. .. .... . ..... . ... 30
Workshop . .. ... . . ... . .. . ... . . .. .. . . .. . .. . ..... 31
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
Blacks Need Not Apply Page 6
Homesteading Page 13
In Search of Funds Page 18
2
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Volume IX Number 7
City limits is published ten times per year. monthly
except double issues in June/July and August/
September, by the City Limits Community Informa-
tion Service, Inc . a nonprofit organization devoted
to disseminating information concerning neighbor-
hood revitalization. The publication is sponsored by
three organizations. The sponsors are:
Association for Neighborhood and Housing lH>'t!lop-
ment , Inc., an association of 36 community-based.
nonprofit housing development groups, developing
and advocating programs for low and moderate in-
come hou.ing and neighborhood stabilization.
Pratt Institute Centu for Community and Environ-
mental D&elopment, a technical assistance and ad-
vocacy office offering professional planning and
architectural services to low and moderate income
community groups. The Center also analyzes and m0-
nitors government policy and performance.
Urban Homuteading Assistance Board. a technical
assistance organization providing assistance to low in-
come tenant cooperatives in management and sweat
equity rehabilitation.
Subscription rates are: for individuals and commu-
nity groups, SIS/One Year. S2511Wo Years; for Busi-
nesses. Foundations. Banks, Government Agencies
and Libraries, S35/0ne Year. S5Offwo Years. low in-
come. unemploYed. S9/0ne Year.
City limits welcomes comments and anicle contri-
butions. Please include a stamped. self-addressed
envelope for return of manuscripts. Material in City
limits does not necessarily reHect the opinion of the
sponsoring organizations. Send correspondence to:
CITY LIMITS. 424 West33rd Street . New York. N.Y.
10001. Postmaster send change of address to: City
Limits. 424 W. 33rd St. . New York. NY. 10001.
Second-class postage paid
New York. NY. 10001
City Limits (ISSN 0199-0330)
(212) 239-&440
Editor
Tom Robbins
Assi tant Editor
Annette Fuentes
Circulation Manager
Paul Smith
Copyright 19&4. All Rights Reserved.
No portion or portions of this journal may be
reprinted without the express permission of
the publishers.
Typesetling and Layout by Advance Graphics
Design by Connie Pierce
Cover Photo by Adam Anik.
'EJ Diario I Takes on
Gentrification
R
EADERS OF EL DIARIO HAVE
been getting a level of daily coverage
of neighborhood and housing problems
which is unfortunately rare in this city. The
Spanish-language, Gannett-owned daily has
not only given free rein to reporters seek-
ing to cover how local activists are dealing
with the problems of Hispanic communities,
it has backed up those activists in its editorial
columns as well. And on September 17, it
even went so far as to challenge its regular
columnist, Mayor Ed Koch, who had come
out swinging for gentrification the week
before.
"Gentrification," wrote Koch, should be
more aptly titled "reinvestment." His
administration, he wrote proudly, had en-
couraged reinvestment (read "gentrifica-
tion') by the private sector. Moreover, he
had evaluated carefully the effect of reinvest-
ment (gentrification) and found that it had
a positive effect for all groups in the
community.
If that's true, responded El Diario the fol-
lowing Monday, then those who have
benefitted are not the same people or busi-
nesses that were there before, but "minori-
ty people with much higher incomes."
What's needed, said the paper, is to gentri-
fy people-through "job upgrading tied to
a solid and equitable housing program"- not
the city.
The articles which prompted Koch's
columns (he wrote a two-part response)
came from a series by El Diario reporter
Raul Molina who started at the beginning
of the summer with a series which took an
in-depth look at the costs of housing, land-
lord harassment, real estate speculation and
the manipulation of city-owned property in
EI Barrio. Molina's articles were a welcome
relieffrom the kind of hit and run reporting
which characterizes virtually the entire New
York City media's method of covering this
vital issue.
Interestingly, while Archbishop John 1.
O'Connor was making headlines through-
out the media with his attacks on pro-
abortion candidates, his thoughts on gen-
trification and the threat it represents to his
parishioners were shared with Molina and
merited a front-page banner headline in EL
Diario. "At times as I go by the Lower East
Side or Lower West Side I think of a flock
of birds roosting in a tree which sometimes
3
shakes so that they will take to their wings,"
said O'Connor. "The birds look for other
branches but there will come a day when
they will have no place to land."
Tlle Goodman Response
QUESTION: HOW SHOULD A VET-
ERAN STATE ELECfED official who
has long promoted himself as a stalwart
tenant advocate respond to an unfavorable
article in the tenant-community press?
1. Fire off a detailed and indignant letter
in rebuttal to the publication.
2. Call up and chew out the editor and/or
author of the piece.
3. See if you can intimidate the publica-
tion through its funders and sponsors.
If you chose any answer other than the last
one you probably think the primary concern
should be getting your side of the story a bet-
ter hearing. But then, you're definitely not
State Senator Roy Goodman, Republican-
Liberal from Manhattan's East Side.
After reading author Jim Sleeper's detail-
ing of Goodman's role in unravelling rent
protections for 42la tenants in our last issue
("Taking a Dive in Albany;' Aug./Sept.
1984), the eight-term Senator placed a call
to the President of Pratt Institute, whose
Center for Community and Environmental
Development is a City Limits sponsor, to ask
"whether the article represented Pratt's offi-
cial position." To get to Pratt, Goodman had
to not only bypass the editor and our other
two sponsors, but also the disclaimer in our
masthead which separates those organiza-
tions from the opinions in our pages.
Asked why the Senator hadn't called City
Limits directly, Goodman press aide Steve
Altschuler responded, "What difference
does it make? It had the same effect [i.e. an
offer to run a response] ."
Hardly. One thing we've never skimped
on is giving room for replies, particularly
from public officials. Goodman's real agen-
da in calling Pratt is transparent: to throw
a scare into funders and supporters and sti-
fle an independent and critical voice.
Despite Altschuler's claim that Goodman
merely sought assurances he could get a let-
ter published, a week after Goodman's Pratt
call no one had bothered to ask when the
deadline was. And when Altschuler was in-
formed of the date, no letter had been writ-
ten. Now, a response is promised for the
November issue. Stay tuned.OT.R.
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
East Harlem
Organizers:
It Won't
Happen Here
F
OR SEVERAL YEARS, East Harlem
housing activists have anxiously eyed
the high rent prices ofthe adjoining Upper
East Side as they creeped steadily north-
wards. But that mostly Hispanic and low in-
come community has had its hands full just
coping with landlord abandonment and
struggling to get the needed funding to re-
hab its deteriorating housing. East Harlem's
tide, however, is turning. Low income advo-
cates there report increasing instances of
landlord harassment as well as recent city
policies on the sale of city-owned property
as dramatic evidence of the shift.
To counter the juggernaut of speculation
which those forces could unleash in the
neighborhood, community leaders orga-
nized a speakout on August 1st. There, over
300 local residents angrily described con-
frontations with rent gouging building
owners and the impact of a city policy
increasingly based on sales revenue. Then,
on August 18th, the newly formed Commit-
tee to Save East Harlem followed up with
a march and rally bearing witness to the
community'S housing distress and demand-
ing a quick turnabout in city policies.
Signing an open letter to Mayor Koch protesting
city policies in East Harlem.
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
Embarking from East Harlem's back-
bone, the commercial strip of El Marqueta
at 116th Street, more than 200 chanting
marchers wound their way through neigh-
borhood streets, pausing at sites where low
income/upper income confrontations have
been sharpest.
One of these was the office of Yamay
Realty at Lexington Avenue and l09th
Street, a real estate agency which march
organizers charged with cutting off water to
current tenants in an effort to vacate
buildings.
The march also stopped at El Museo del
Barrio, where 24 community nonprofit or-
ganizations headquartered in a Fifth Avenue
building face a sharp reduction in their city-
owned space as well as a 3,000 percent rent
hike.
The city's most troubling East Harlem
maneuvers, however, are the absence of
funds for affordable rehabilitation of aban-
doned buildings and the piecemeal selling-
building by building - of the neighborhood's
housing stock to the highest bidder.
East Harlem'S vacant brownstones offer
some of the most glittering prizes in the
city's trove of tax-foreclosed properties. Last
year, when the city invited groups oflower
income New Yorkers to submit proposals to
carry out sweat equity rehabilitation of
abandoned buildings, East Harlemites re-
sponded with immense enthusiasm. But of
57 applications for buildings in El Barrio
from local would-be homesteaders, only 17
sites were deemed eligible for the program.
The rest were already earmarked for open
auctions, a process which nets more revenue
for the city but prices out most local
residents.
Currently the city is auctioning off 23
brownstones in the area through a lottery.
As the city increasingly pursues this route,
the fears of residential displacement have
heightened. Overall, city-owned property
accounts for a whopping 21 percent of the
housing stock in Community Board 11 in
East Harlem.
Just how hard it is for local residents to
hold onto that property was underscored
when a local church - St. Cecelia's on East
100th Street - sought to acquire a next door
lot for a community space. The city's De-
partment of Real Property refused to restrict
4
Marchers at August demonstration against dis-
placement in East Harlem.
the sale, however, and the church was outbid
at auction by several thousand dollars.
The August protest march was joined by
contingents of tenants and residents from the
Lower East Side where low income housing
advocates have organized to counter an
almost identical pressure. There, a proposal
to save tax foreclosed housing for low in-
come projects was recently rejected by the
Koch administration.
At Gracie Mansion, an open letter to the
Mayor was tacked to the fence outside and
signed by dozens of marchers. The letter
urged the mayor to call a moratorium on the
auctioning of city-owned property, to aid in
halting landlord harassment and rent over-
charges and to pro"ide improved services to
those now living in city-owned buildings in
the neighborhood. The letter also demanded
that rent hikes at El Museo del Barrio be
called off.O T_R.
To reach the Committee to Save East
Harlem, call (2U) 371-1000, ext. 2457.
Tenants'Victory
Pays Off for
Homeless
' ~ T I T H MUCH POMP AND CERE-
~ ~ mony, officials from the city and state
initiated rehabilitation work on August 30
at a South Bronx building aimed at "meet-
ing the needs of the city's homeless popu-
lation."
The building, at 1325 Lafayette Avenue,
was saved from sure death and destruction
thanks to the tireless efforts of eleven resi-
dents who fought the city's attempts to evict
them under a consolidation plan in 1982 (see
City Limits, May 1983) . After filing a suit
against the city for trying to vacate the build-
ing without due process, tenants succeed-
ed in convincing Mayor Koch and Housing
Preservation and Development's Deputy
Commissioner Joseph Shuldiner to recon-
sider their plans for 1325 Lafuyette and three
other buildings slated for consolidation.
During a lengthy period of negotiations,
the city vacillated, saying it couldn't come
up with the money and changing which
buildings would be included in any proposed
rehabilitation. Basic services in several of
the buildings were lacking, including heat
and gas.
Money for the rehab work finally came
through for 1325 Lafayette from the state's
Homeless Housing and Assistance Program
in July 1983 which gave the city $4.1 mil-
lion for four projects. Over one million dol-
lars of that will be spent to renovate 71
apartments at Lafayette Avenue, providing
housing for 60 families currently in shelters
or hotels as well as the buildings 11 tenants.
Rehab work is progressing, but slowly, ac-
cording to tenant organizer Bonnie Grant ,
who estimates completion by next spring.
At three other South Bronx buildings res-
cued by tenants from consolidation -1104
Elder Avenue, 1244 Grant Avenue and 1061
Trinity Avenue - rehab work, which is be-
ing funded by the city, has yet to take off.
"The state is working much faster at 1325
Lafayette," Grant claims. "The city is not
monitoring the work at the other three build-
ings." Problems with services have also per-
sisted; gas at 1104 Elder was reinstated the
second week of September after an eight
month hiatus.
Members of the Union of City Tenants,
which ftled the legal challenge in 1982, say
the city's consolidation process has been
May, 1983 negotiating meeting over 1325
Lafayette between members of the Soundview
Local of tbe Union of City Tenants and city
housing officials.
cleaned up. "Fewer buildings are being put
into consolidation, only those falling apart
or two-family homes without boilers, most-
ly in Brooklyn," said Dave Robinson. The
ucr is now working with residents at
W. 143rd Street in Harlem, another target
of consolidation. This time though, the city
is hesitant to impose a vacate order. OA.F.
Last Chance for
Comment on
Westway Statement
T
HE RESULTS OF LAST SUMMER'S
testimony at the Army Corps of En-
gineers hearings on the impact of Westway
will be out sometime this month, compiled
in an Environmental Impactment statement.
After its release, the Corps will accept pub-
lic comment on the statement for thirty days.
During the hearings, Colonel F.W.
Griffis, the Corps' District Engineer,
showed an attentiveness to a number of is-
sues which Westway supporters have long
insisted are separate and apart from the mas-
sive highway project. Among these were the
impact on transportation, population den-
sity, as well as the project's implications for
urban development, local spending priori-
ties and social justice issues. Comment on
how Westway, which has been called the lar-
gest transrer of resources away from the poor
ever contemplated, will affect those aspects
of city lire are therefore important during the
30-day period.
5
To find out about the impact statement,
you can call the Army Corps of Engineers
at (212) 264-8760. For further information
the Coalition for A Westway Trade-In c a ~
be reached at (212) 349-7255. Also, letters
can be sent directly to: Col. F.w. Griffis,
District Engineer, Army Corps of Engi-
neers, 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY
10278.0T.R.
'DON'T LET THEM
UPROOT OUR
GARDEN!
Your $5 can save Cl i nton Communi ty
Gorden.
Through dedication and hard work,
New Yorkers transf ormed thi s rubble-
strewn lot on West 48th Street i nto o n oasi s
of lawns, fl owers and w i ndi ng poths.
Yet the gorden's landlord i s goi ng to sel l
it at auction and uproot us. Unless we can
rai se $1 ,000,000 by December to purchase
i t oursel ves.
Will you donate $5, $10, or more, to
save a Manhattan garden paradi se?
You' ll recei ve on offici al "deed" for your
sl ice of the Big Apple. Give o n inch to a
friend.
Use the coupon. All it tokes is a I ittle of
your "green" to help save our green - a
breath offresh airfor all of New York.
$5 AN INCH!
I enclose $5 (or 'more) 10 sove a square Inch
(or more) of Clinton Communtty Gorden.
Please send me my "deed," Moke checks
payable 10, Trusl for Publ" Land, 254 Wesr
3151 Srreel. New York. NY 10001
Contributions ore tox deduct i ble. For more
,nformal ,on call (212) 563-5959
NAME
ADDRESS
CITY. STATE. ZIP PHONE
NAME TO APPEAR ON CERTIFICATE
AMOUNT ENCLOSED
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
- I
-:j
1
CITY LIMIT S/October 1984
6 .
By Nancy Stiefel
TWASN'T MAKING MUCH money in IfJ77, so when the sister of a good friend of mine offered me a
.I. weekend job at Starrett City, I jumped at the chance. She was managing rentals at that huge development
way down in what seemed like the wilds of southeast Brooklyn, across the Belt Parkway from a vast garbage
dump with Jamaica Bay stretching out beyond. Bounded to the north by mostly black East New York and to
the west by the white community of Canarsie, the newly opened Starrett was the nation's largest subsidized
rental housing project for middle income tenants.
Management needed people they could trust, I was told, to
help finish renting about 30 percent of the project that was
still empty. At the time, I wasn't curious that so many units
remained vacant when decent, affordable housing was so
scarce. I was soon to find out why.
Starrett City looked good to me that first wintry Saturday
when I reported to work. The sprawling development with 35
apartment buildings offered nice, new and clean places to live
to some 15,000 people. It included a shopping center, schools,
day care, recreation centers and one of the most .beautiful in-
door pools I had ever seen. When I saw the model apartments
that I was to show to prospective tenants, I was impressed by
their attractive and roomy layouts.
In talks with my boss over lunch in her office I became
more convinced that this was a place I could be proud to
work at. Their goal , she explained, was to create a truly inte-
grated development, offering good housing to both racial and
ethnic minorities. In fact , she told me, each floor of each
building would be integrated, and the project as a whole
would serve as a model to the nation that all races, ethnic
groups and ages (a small percentage of units were reserved
for elderly people on social security) could live together in
joy and harmony.
The View from Inside
This vision of sister and brotherhood got its first jolt when
I saw that preliminary application cards were coded for race.
I had assumed that government subsidized developments were
not allowed to take race into account in selecting tenants.
Starrett was financed by a $307 million loan from the New
York State Housing Finance Agency (HFA). An agreement
between the state and the U.S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development (HUD) had reduced interest on the HFA
mortgage to one percent. HUD provided rent subsidies. And
the City of New York had granted a 36-year tax exemption.
One would have thought that this extent of government in-
volvement would have subjected Delmar, Starrett's managing
company, to federal , state and city laws barring discrimina-
tion in renting.
My boss explained to me that the project had reserved 30
percent of its units to blacks and Hispanics (at least two-
thirds of these went to blacks, although I don't recall the exact
figures.) Starrett had decided that any more than 30 percent
minorities would "tip" the project and cause whites to move
out. From experience (she had worked at low-income
Mitchell-Lama projects) she knew that as projects became all
My vision of Starrett's sister and
brotherhood got its first real jolt when I
saw that preliminary application cards
were coded for race.
7
black, services dwindled and property defacement and crime
became rampant. Blacks have a tendency to wreck their own
housing, she explained.
By the later winter of 1977, and probably long before that,
the 30 percent quota for people of color had been reached,
and Starrett was in the-Jlliddle of a mass advertising campaign
on TV, radio and in newspapers throughout the five boroughs.
Trucks with loudspeakers blared their message in targeted
areas: "Come to Starrett City!" But they couldn't add "whites
only." "Brooklyn The Way It Used To Be," proclaimed one
particularly blatant campaign. But despite all these
codewords, they still needed a strategy to encourage whites
and discourage blacks who came in droves in response to ads
they had seen.
At a staff meeting I heard my boss explain that security
guards downstairs (the rental office and model apartments
were on a high floor of one of the last unoccupied buildings)
had been instructed to usher in whites and turn away blacks
downstairs. They were to tell blacks that they could not get in
without appointments.
When blacks did manage to argue themselves into the ren-
tal office, they were told that there was a waiting list , given
an application and told to mail it in.
The Protocols of Discrimination
Over time, Starrett's management devised a subtle, and
sometimes not so subtle, protocol for discrimination. These
are some of the other discriminatory procedures I witnessed
or heard management discuss during my brief stint at
Starrett:
Blacks who insisted on seeing rental agents would be shown
in to see a black agent hired especially to calm blacks' anger
and suspicions of discrimination. Since whites saw agents on
a first-come, first-served basis, this meant blacks had to wait
longer in the "hospitality room."
Starrett management separated coupons from people
answering ads in the newspapers. Blacks were identified by
their names and addresses. They were either ignored or noti-
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
fied that they could be placed on a waiting list. Whites were
called and given appointments to see rental agents.
If a white came in and showed interest in Starrett but did
not return to complete the application process, staffers tele-
phoned them and asked why, encouraging them to return.
This was not done for blacks.
Agents asked to see all members of the family at interviews
of prospective tenants. Management had been burned several
times, I learned, when they had rented a unit to a white man
or woman, only to discover when it was too late that a
spouse, or children, were black.
Rental agents were directed to arrange financial information
from whites to make them appear financially eligible for
apartments. A common example: if a husband and wife's
combined earnings put them over the maximum allowed
income for a subsidized apartment, Starrett often offered to
ignore the wife's income.
If a desirable (white) family said they would only consider
Starrett if they could get an extra bedroom (regulations
strictly limited the number of bedrooms to correspond to a fa-
mily's size) management would oblige.
While blacks were being discouraged, mass advertising
campaigns were aimed at white ethnic minorities
through their neighborhood newspapers. Russian emigres
especially were given the red carpet treatment and I was
directed several times to usher Russians in to the boss herself
so they would not have to wait in the hospitality room. She
would do everything she could to convince them about Star-
rett's advantages and to expedite their applications, often
virtually promising them apartments on their first visit.
I later realized that Starrett's outreach to white ethnic com-
munities was meant to create a sort of mini-United Nations in
which white minorities would comfortably outnumber racial
minorities, offering a kind of moral protection against pos-
sible charges of discrimination.
Blacks Need Not Apply
One couple who received a first-hand view of Starrett's ra-
cial maneuvering and manipulation were Joseph and Saundra
Percival. The Percivals were a young black couple who in the
fall of '77 went to Starrett City in hopes of renting a one-
bedroom apartment. They saw the model apartments and took
an application. "We wanted to be interviewed and fill it out
right then," recalls Mrs. Percival. "But they told us we had to
take the application home and mail it in." When four or five
months passed with no response, they decided to take action.
The Percivals knew that Starrett was seeking white tenants.
Every week they saw come-ons on TV and in the newspapers.
Mrs. Percival was a nurse and frequently talked to white co-
workers who saw Starrett, applied on the spot, and moved in
quickly while she and her husband remained stuck on the
waiting list. _
So the Percivals returned to Starrett one day and insisted on
seeing a rental agent. "Here we were in the hospitality room,"
recounted Saundra Percival , "and we found that people who
just happened to be in the area dropped in and saw rental
agents. On their first visit they saw the apartments, fllied out
applications, and were told to come back in two weeks for
their keys!"
The Percivals were shown in to see a black agent who told
CITY LIMITS/October 1984 8
them he would try to find their application and would get
back tp them. Joseph Percival ran into this agent off the
premises some time later.
"He told my husband that he wished he could help us, but
his hands were tied," said Saundra. "He said we'd have to go
to some outside agency if we wanted to get into Starrett."
They decided to do just that. The Percivals registered a
complaint with the New York City Commission on Human
Rights, which scheduled three hearings between the Percivals
and a Starrett official. After Starrett failed to show up at all
three, Saundra, then about to give birth to their first child,
gave up on that agency.
They contacted the Open Housing Center, a private advo-
cacy organization representing people who have come up
against housing discrimination. Open Housing arranged a .
meeting between the Percivals and Starrett management , hop-
ing for some accommodation. Instead, the Percivals got a lec-
ture from a management representative-with the black rental
agent sitting in - on why it was important to limit the number
of blacks to keep the development integrated.
"We felt discriminated against and we weren't going to lie
down and take it," Mrs. Percival remembers. "You'll never
forget the Percivals," she told the Starrett official at that
meeting.
The Suit
The Percival's complaints to the Open Housing Center later
became a class action suit against Starrett on behalf of the
thousands of people who were denied apartments there be-
cause of their race. The suit named as defendants Starrett,
Delmar, and the State Housing Commissioner (for condoning
Starrett's policies). They charged that Starrett's rental policy
violated the Fourteenth Amendment, the Civil Rights Act and
the New York State Private Housing Finance Law.
The civil rights class action sought to end Starrett's quota
limiting access to minority tenants and to end the racially dis-
criminatory procedures practiced by rental agents. The suit
also asked the court to order a renting plan that would give
priority to those previously discriminated against; and to
award $25,000 in compensatory and punitive damages to each
plaintiff in the case, as well as reimbursing court costs and
. attorney fees.
The approaching trial captured media attention as Starrett
lined up such notables as integrationist Kenneth Clark, a
prominent black educator whose report on the effect of
school desegregation was crucial in the 1954 Brown v. Board
of Education decision. A bizarre twist was Starrett's hiring of
attorney Morris B. Abrams as defense counsel. Abrams, who
made a reputation in the '60s as a civil rights attorney, had
made such a firm stand against quotas and affirmative action
that he was named last year to Reagan's Civil Rights Commis-
sion. Yet Abrams spoke eloquently in favor of Starrett's racial
bars.
The State Takes the Rap
But the Starrett case never reached trial . After years of
stalemate, several months of negotiations produced a settle-
ment leaving Starrett's policies intact. While agreeing to open
up 175 additional units to minority tenants in the next five
years-less than two percent of its nearly 6,000 apart-
ments-the "development will be allowed to continue taking
the race of applicants into account in order to maintain racial
integration;' reads a DHCR release.
The State, on the other hand, has agreed to open up 86 of
its Mitchell-Lama projects, most virtually all white, to racial
minorities. Their goal is to increase minority occupancy to 20
percent within 15 years. Known members of the plaintiff class
are to be given advance notice of openings at these developments.
"The State is opening up a substantial percentage of hous-
ing previously denied to blacks," commented Karene Free-
man, an attorney for the plaintiffs. "Those developments did
not exist all-white in this city without the State's countenance.
"But," she adds, "the agreement doesn't address the illegal-
ity of Starrett's renting practices."
"Disappointing," is how Phyllis Spiro of Open Housing
describes the settlement. "After five years of litigation, Star-
rett remains status quo. The waiting list is still extensive for
people of color. There are still people waiting for apartments
from 1976."
In celebration of its impending settlement, Starrett hosted a
major conference last June, dubbed "Integrated Neighbor-
hoods." There, NAACP attorney Michael Sussman spoke
strongly against Starrett's code. "It preys on white flight and
does not combat the view that whites have to be in the major-
ity to feel comfortable and safe," he said.
The assumption behind tipping and white flight - that
whites can only be happy when they surround and outnumber
blacks - has led many to condone Starrett's continued dis-
crimination as justified. But behind the tipping analysis is an
assumption that blacks are content to live in housing un-
acceptable to whites; in fact, if given the chance, will ruin
good housing. This assumption ignores the central problem:
that an influx of blacks into a mostly white neighborhood
usually triggers banks, management and real estate compa-
nies, businesses and policy makers-almost always white-to
pull out investments and services and find greener (read
whiter) pastures.
Yet Starrett City has already passed the threshold manage-
ment considered safe: although minorities have just 35 per-
cent of the apartments, they make up almost 50 percent of the
population. Will whites begin leaving in droves? Will Delmar
cut back services and let the development slide into oblivion?
That remains to be seen. But judging from the present har-
mony in this community of economically stable middle
income tenants, and taking into account that there is no com-
parable housing available and that an enormous amount of
public money is invested here, there is reason to expect that
black and white tenants-or blacks alone should the project
become all-black-will fight to maintain their housing stan-
dards. It wouldn't be the first time.
Reagan's AtTIrmative Action
Perhaps the strangest chapter of the whole Starrett City
saga-certainly the most ironic-came when the Reagan Jus-
tice Department challenged the proposed settlement and
lodged its own suit against Starrett. The Justice Department's
memo to federal Judge Edward R. Neahrer held that all quo-
tas - Starrett's included - whether they are used to limit
minorities or to guarantee their inclusion, are illegal.
Civil rights activists view this suit with mistrust. Freeman
regards the Justice Department's challenge as a "vehicle for
an overall frontal attack on affirmative action." And James
Meyerson, another attorney for the plaintiffs, feels that the
federal government's action "ignores the history of the Four-
teenth Amendment and all civil rights legislation.
"When General Hayes pulled his troops out of the South
and Reconstruction fell flat; and then when entrenched apart-
heid was reinstituted, the General knew what he was doing,"
Meyerson adds. "One could make this analogy to the Reagan
Administration ."
And where are the Starrett City suit plaintiffs in all of this?
Most will continue to face discrimination from public as well
as private sector housing. And the practice of affirmative
action Starrett City-style-for whites-will still stand
unchallenged by the courts.
Saundra Percival didn't care to comment on the settlement.
Although she was one of a number of plaintiffs who were
eventually offered apartments at Starrett, six years after she
applied, she turned it down. She doesn't want to live there
anymore.
"I couldn't believe I couldn't rent an apartment there after
all the hard work I'd done, going to school , becoming a
nurse," she says. "And I can't rent an apartment because I'm
black.
"My self esteem went from ten to zero." 0
Nancy Stiefel is a freelance writer who lives In Manhanan.
9 CITY LlMITSiOctober 1984"
TAX BREAKS BY CBECK.-OFFt/
The Mayor's new automatic tax incentives for business and industry
open the door even wider to public subsidies without public benefit.
By Tom Robbins and Annette Fuentes
J
UST WHEN IT LOOKED LIKE the
city's system of business tax incentives
was so thoroughly discredited that only
major revamping and stringent new controls
could fix it, there's a whole new ballgame
in town. In fact, unless the City Council ,
which must pass enacting legislation this
fall, thinks differently, the game of seeking
tax breaks for even the biggest corporations
and developers will be an easier contest than
ever.
In one fell swoop this summer, Mayor Ed
Koch and his Deputy Mayor for Economic
Development, Ken Lipper, scored a legis-
lative victory in Albany which could open
. CITY LIMITS/October 1984
the tax incentive door even wider, while at
the same time deflecting the potent and
widespread criticism the city's tax breaks
have frequently earned.
Koch and Lipper's bill (which got major
assists from Assembly Speaker Stanley Fink
and Governor Mario Cuomo) took the ball
out of the hands of the hapless Industrial and
Commercial Incentive Board and made
business tax breaks henceforth automatic in
most of the city.
Goodbye, ICm
Gone is the eight-member board (seven
of them appointed by the mayor) which was
revealed to have given only the most curso-
ry reviews to applications as it handed out
10
nearly $750 million in tax exemptions and
abatements since lCJ77. done too are the
often embarrassing monthly board meetings
which, towards the end, produced a spate
of news stories every time some of the city's
biggest corporations demanded substantial
tax incentives before they'd build or expand
in even the city's ripest real estate markets.
In their place is a strict system of geo-
graphic boundaries which can't be redrawn
for at least three years and within which
firms are automatically entitled to either ten-
year no interest tax deferrals, or straight-out
100 percent eight-year exemptions on any
taxes on increased property assessed value.
The only areas out of bounds are Manhat-
tan's East Side from 96th Street to 34th,
Sixth Avenue to the East River, and Lower
Manhattan south of Fulton Street.
Elsewhere, every expanding business
(with the sole exception of entertainment)
is left with "little more than a check-off line
on its income tax forms in order to qualify;
as one critic summed it up.
These as-of-right, pro-forma tax breaks
aim at taking the whole process out of an
uncomfortable public spotlight. What the
Koch administration seems to be hoping as
well is that it will also put an end to specu-
lation about the politics of tax incentives.
But those who have monitored the Icm
in recent years and criticized its policies, say
the new plan will cost the city more in fore-
gone taxes and reward many whom even the
current board would deny. Making the pro-
gram self-administering, they add, while
removing any criteria for judgment, pro-
vides a false image of fairness behind which
lurks a major giveaway to those who need
it the least. The administration, warned City
Council President Carol Bellamy, is "throw-
ing the proverbial baby out with the bath
water."
Although during the Albany debate the
city was reluctant to put a pricetag on its new
policy, a memo from an aide to Deputy
Mayor Lipper revealed that the city expects
to lose twice as much tax revenue-
$358,831,OOO-over the next decade as it
would if the Icm were left intact, a figure
estimated at $179,183,000 by the same
memo.
So far the battle over what constitutes a
major shift in city economic policy has been
fairly muted. In Albany, opposition came
from veteran Icm critics: state Senator
Franz Leichter of Manhattan spoke out
against it in the Senate where the bill passed
38-18. In the Assembly, West Side Demo-
crats Jerrold Nadler and Richard Gottfried,
along with East Sider Pete Grannis, tried to
mobilize opposition to the legislation while
Norman Adler, political director of District
Council 'J7 and the New York Public Interest
Research Group lobbied in the background.
Members of the Black and Puerto Rican
Caucus asked Assembly Speaker Fink to lay
the bill over until some of its provisions
could be rewritten. Fink, however, was
adamant, and the bill carried, 90-40.
Now, the next step is up to the City Coun-
cil which must approve or amend what the
state legislature has voted. There, Council
President Bellamy and West Side Council
Member Ruth Messinger are expected to
make a last stand and try to force significant
changes. But should Koch and Lipper pull
off at the local level what they've already
won from the state, they'll have achieved a
remarkable comeback for what rapidly be-
came the city's most notorious tax incentive
program.
Whose Incentives?
Any thought that the ICm, as constituted,
was a key part of the city's economic solu-
tion was put to rest last year by a report from
the city's own Department of Investigation.
The board, which had been the object of in-
tense scrutiny and criticism for months run-
ning at that point, was on the ropes already.
But the DOl report (actually a draft that was
leaked to the press) was the finishing blow.
The ICm, the report held, had been slip-
shod and haphazard in doling out tax breaks
to expanding businesses. Not only did the
board not know the value of the tax incen-
tives it granted, it had no means of verify-
ing the promised benefits to the city in the
form of jobs created or maintained. Worse,
the board's over-generosity to major corpo-
rations and developers had resulted in higher
taxes to other property owners to offset the
losses.
A memo from an aide to
Deputy Mayor Lipper
revealed that the city
expects to lose twice as
much tax revenue-
$358,831,OOO-over the
next decade as it would if
the ICIB were left intact.
DOl's charges echoed most of those
already levelled by such watchdogs as
Leichter, Bellamy and Messinger. In fact,
its critique was a good deal less far-reaching.
But coming as it did from the mayor's own
investigation unit, this portrait of an agency
skidding out of control was impossible to
ignore.
But as early as 1981, the board had been
found to have severely underestimated the
worth of its tax abatements and exemptions.
While the board claimed it had granted $207
million in waivers, a study by Council Presi-
dent Bellamy's office held that a whopping
$507 million had actually been handed out,
a figure the city later acknowledged to be
accurate.
Bellamy's study also found that although
Manhattan accounted for only a quarter of
ICIB's projects, that borough received 90
cents of every tax dollar exempted. The
recipients of those dollars were even more
concentrated: 28 firms accounted for 91 per-
cent of the exemptions; three firms -AT&T,
Olympia and York and Barclay-Green-
wich - had scored more than a third of the
11
exemptions. And, as tPe DOl report still
found to be true two years later, the Icm had
never verified - in fact had neither the ability
nor the intention of doing so - the jobs those
foregone tax dollars were supposed to be
creating.
Little wonder the sizeable tax breaks
passed out to firms like E.F. Hutton and
Shearson/American Express met with in-
dignant demands to know why, when vital
city services and needed capital projects
went unprovided, these millions of poten-
tial tax dollars were being excused.
No More Discretion
A few months later the mayor - armed
with the findings of a study commission on
incentives he had appointed - announced his
response. Henceforth, commercial and in-
dustrial tax incentives would ~ e as-of-right.
Two areas already made out of bounds by
the ICm-the East Side and Wall Street-
would stay that way. But everywhere else it
would be open house.
The longtime Icm critics found them-
sel ves in the strange and surprising position
of pointing out that even the slipshod
methods of the board are an improvement
on a system which allows no discretion at
all.
Most of Manhattan's neighborhoods,
where past experience shows most tax
breaks will go, have shown they don't need
added incentives to attract business expan-
sion. In fact, several major applications to
the Icm which were turned away as unnec-
essary would have to be honored under the
proposed plan. One of these was the invest-
ment firm of Smith Barney, which in a num-
ber of well-publicized Icm meetings sought
an $11 million abatement for its renovation
of an old Robert Hall warehouse on West
34th Street between Eighth and Ninth
Avenues. The board ruled against it, and
Smith Barney built anyway.
At Seventh Avenue and West 51st Street,
the Equitable Life Assurance Co. is current-
ly providing perhaps the most convincing
evidence that the booming West Side doesn't
need incentives by building a massive 55-
story tower without any subsidy. As Coun-
cil Member Ruth Messinger has pointed
out, three major public subsidies underway
in that area are already providing a power-
ful lure: the Convention Center, the 42nd
Redevelopment Plan and the new midtown
zoning rules which encourage development
west of Sixth Avenue; it hardly seems as
though more is needed.
Critics have also pointed out that the bill,
rather astonishingly, almost wholly disen-
franchises the City Council in its right to
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
I
affect where the incentives should go, at
least in the important first three years.
Moreover, even the temporary commission
to be established (whose mayorally-appoint-
ed members can meet just once every three
years) is barred from altering the lines at its
first meeting, which means changes can't
come until 1988.
The bill also removes a number of restric-
tions on the types of businesses entitled to
tax breaks which Koch administration offi-
cials themselves had imposed as much as
five years ago. It was former Deputy Mayor
for Economic Development Peter Solomon
who urged the rules that recreational , res-
taurant and retail banking businesses be in-
eligible. But those firms could scoot right
in under the new bill. Only entertainment
businesses (a result of the time the ICIB was
put in the position of forking over a tax break
to Show World, a 42nd Street porno palace)
are excluded. Michael Weber, an aide to
state Senator Leichter and a longtime Icm
watcher, points out that the net effect is to
"encourage firms like McDonald's to be-
come real estate developers. Instead ofleas-
ing space, they11 make out better buying
since they can save on their taxes," he says.
The new incentives seem
to have gotten even further
away from encouraging
the kind of public benefit
they were originally sup-
posed to: job creation.
'Son of ICm'
Most distressing, however, is that the new
incentives seem to have gotten even further
away from encouraging the kind of public
benefit they were originally supposed to: job
creation.
Since there will be no more application,
examination or public hearing, there will be
just no way of knowing what, if anything,
the people of New York are getting for their
subsidy. The new rules eliminate even the
weak existing linkage between job creation
and tax incentive. Nor does it distinguish be;
tween entry level, job-intensive industrial
firms and commercial enterprises. This,
despite the fact that retention of the city's
rapidly declirung blue-collar job base was
the original spur to the ICm.
Asked recently for whatever data had
been accumulated on jobs resulting from its
three-quarters of a billion dollars in tax
breaks, an Icm staffer responded, "What's
the point? That part's all over now, anyway."
Like other ill-conceived offspring, Koch
and Lipper's "Son of ICIB" may wreak the
kind of economic havoc even its wayward
parent found unthinkable. 0
Community Organizer. Renovation Supervisor. Weatherization Coordinator.
Urban Housing Specialist. Community Management Director. Policy Analyst.
Housing Paralegal. Business Manager. Housing Director. Loan Arranger. Project
Director. Construction Specialist. Activist. Accountant. Housing Attorney. Execu-
tive Secretary. Energy Specialist. Assistant Editor. Executive Director. Activist.
These are just some of the positions recently advenised in CITY LIMITS. The advenising choice of
housing professionals in government, non-profit organizations and industry. Call 239-8440 to place
your ad.
CITY LIMITS JOB ADVERTISING GETS RESULTS
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CITY LlMITSIOctober 1984
SInce 1980, the HousIng er-gy Alliance for Tenants Cooperative Corp. (H.E.A.T. COOP) has provided low
cost home '-tIng 011 and er.rgy UN reduction MfVices..
The H.E.A.T. Coop has targeted for services the largely minority low and middle income neighborhoods of the
Bronx, Brooklyn. Manhattan and Queens. H.E.A. T:s general purpose is to provide assistance and services that lead
to neighborhood stability.
As a proponent of economic empowerment for revitalization of the City's communities, H.E.A. T. remains committed
to assisting newly emerging managers and owners of buildings with the reduction of energy oasis (long recognized as
the single most expensive area of building management). H.E.A. T. has presented tangible opportunities for tenant
associations. housing COOPS. churches. community organizations. homeowners and small businesses to gamer
substantial savings and lower the costs of building operation.
Through the primary a.vIce of providing low cost home heating oil, various '-tIng plant MI'Vk:es and
energy management a.vIces, H.E.A.T. membanl have collectively aaved over 1.5 million dollars .
. WJrking coIlaboratively with other community service organizations with similar goals. and working to establish its
VIability as a busmess entity. H.E.A. T. has committed its revenue generating capacity and potential to providing
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If you are interested in leaming more about H.E.A.T. or H you are interested in becoming a H.E.A.T. meriIber. call
or write the H.E.A. T. office.
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853 Broadway. Suite 414. New'tbrk. NY. 10003. [2121 505-0286
12
The City Tries Oal
Two-Falllily HODiesleading
Despite the Mayor's cirums, other cities are doing more . .
fbinting the way to the applications in HPD corridor for the 10,000 people who picked up homesteading
applications
W
ITH MAYOR KOCH PRO-
claiming "We do more than any
other city in the country" and housing ac-
tivist Al Hillian calling it tokenism,
thirty-three urban pioneers were select-
'ed in a lottery of vacant city-owned two-
fumily homes on August 24. The winners
were chosen from a pool of700 who sub-
mitted applications to the Department of
Housing Preservation and Development
(HPD). Some 10,000 people in all picked
up applications at the housing office in
a one month period, a response Deputy
Commissioner Robert Davis says "We
haven't seen in the history of HPD."
But there will be several obstacles to
navigate before the aspiring homestead-
ers can pay the $250 purchase price,
receive the city's three percent rehabili-
tation loan and take title to their homes.
If they cannot meet HPD's financial stan-
dards, the lottery winners will lose out
on their buildings. Obviously skeptical
of the thirty-three's ability to measure up,
HPD chose 15 alternate winners for each
of the buildings. While the city dropped
it's original minimum income require-
ment of $16,000 for applicants to the lot-
tery (under pressure from Brooklyn
activists in the Association of Commu-
nity Organizations for Reform Now-
ACORN) it is clear that the program is
not geared to people in the low income
bracket. According to HPD spokesper-
son Charles Perkins, "the program is
good for moderate income people, not
for people on public assistance. ACORN
describes it as a program to house the
very poor. That isn't accurate. It would
be bad if poor people exhausted all their
funds on rehabilitation; the program is
structured to prevent that."
Obviously skeptical oJ the
33 lottery winners' ability
to measure up, the city
chose 15 alternate winners
Jor each oJ the buildings.
The actual criteria HPD will employ
to accept or reject the homesteaders are
not entirely clear. The maximum income
level for participants is $48,000 for a
family of four. The lowest income, says
Perkins, "depends on the level of the loan
needed and the kind of person; whether
they have skills for doing rehab work or
not." Commitment to following through
with the project and a solid credit histo-
ry will also figure in HPD's screening
process.
13
By Annette Fuentes
Homesteading in Philadelphia
ACORN members in East New York
who have done battle with the city for two
years to implement a homesteading pro-
gram there (see City Limits, April 1984)
differ with several of city hall's claims
regarding the new program. When Koch
announced to the crowd assembled for
the lottery drawing that "we do more than
anyone else." ACORN activists present
knew better.
In Philadelphia, that organization
fought for and won a program - called
1202a-that permits people to choose a
vacant home in deteriorating condition
which the city will than purchase at
monthly sheriffs auctions. Homestead-
ers receive up to $300 in free building
materials and may apply for federal re-
hab loans. Title to the buildings is turned
over to the homesteaders when work is
complete.
Mary Madden, an ACORN organizer
in Philly, says 300 homes were given to
homesteaders through that program last
year and anticipates another 900 for this
year. The completion rate for that pro-
gram has been an impressive 66 percent.
There are two other homesteading pro-
grams in the city of brotherly love, mak-
ing New York's efforts look meager by
comparison. Under Operation Remove
Urban Blight(RUB) , vacant homes ac-
quired by the city at auction are award-
ed by lottery to homesteaders, who
receive a $1 ,000 grant. Other rehab
money for RUB will be available from a
loan program now being created for peo-
ple with meager credit histories and
buildings in the poorest condition. The
third, Homestart, is also a lottery of city-
owned homes which receive major sys-
tems renovation instead of rehab loans.
One hundred houses were given away
through that program last year.
Philadelphia currently has 24,000 va-
cant one- and two-family homes, about
one-fourth of which are salvagable. The
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
city's Office of Housing and Communi-
ty Development has been purchasing an
increasing number of them at the month-
ly auction of abandoned properties - an
average of300 per month. Of those, 110
houses are being channeled into the
homestead programs each month. But
empty homes and eager homesteaders do
not guarantee a successful program.
More rehab money is needed to make a
dent in Philly's abundant housing needs.
According to Madden, "We estimate that
the city loses $4,000 every year on each
of those vacant houses. We are propos-
ing a grant program to award that amount
for homesteading work." Similar efforts
are currently being implemented in
Detroit, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.
Lots of Houses, Little Money
As to HPD's position that homestead-
ing is not for the needy, Louise Stanley,
a postal supervisor and ACORN leader
in East New York thinks that is simply
not true. "I would hope that the program
is for poor people who can't afford to buy
homes. Who is to say that someone who
makes $10-11,000 can't homestead? Peo-
ple pay $300-400 a month in rent
without any services. The problem with
HPD is they're very negative on poor
people." She invoked the example of a
woman she knew in Philadelphia, a
homesteading mother of two children
who is on welfare and successfully com-
pleting her rehab work. "ACORN offers
support and help in the projects. We have
many members who are skilled workers,"
she remarke4.
Certainly New York City does not lack
for an abundant supply of city-owned,
vacant homes ripe for homesteading. Ac-
Albany BW
Would Provide
Romeslead
Funds
R
ATHER THAN A PIECEMEAL
approach to homesteading finance,
many community and housing groups
are pushing for comprehensive legisla-
tion to create a permanent fund for
homesteaders. And there's a good chance
that such a bill will become a reality by
next year, according to Daniel Conviser
at Manhattan Democratic Assemblyman
Pete Grannis' office in Albany.
Under the pending Omnibus Afford-
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
Mayor Koch, aided by HPD Deputy Commissioner Bob Davis, draws names of winners In Brownsville
In August.
cording to HPD's figures, there is an
ever-growing number of tax-foreclosed,
one- and two-family houses coming un-
der city ownership. In June of 1982 there
were 721 such homes ; the number
jumped to 953 in 1983 and reached 1096
this June. Over '"](X) of those houses are
in Brooklyn alone, a result of the recent
vesting process earlier this year. With
another vesting coming up in the Bronx,
there would seem to be plenty of oppor-
tunity for the city to make good on the
mayor's claim. As always the main stum-
bling block is lack of funds. One million
dollars in Community Development
funds were appropriated for the new
homesteading program which is being
called a pilot. The money will provide
loans of $25-35,000 for major systems
repairs, an amount that will cover only
part of rehab work in most of the build-
ings. Home Improvement Program
able Housing Finance Act (A. 11080), a
recurring revenue source derived from
the fees paid by developers of co-op con-
versions would provide the much-needed
monies for a housing trust fund to finance
rehab of vacant homes as well as low in-
come co-ops and rental units. One major
feature of the bill calls for lifting the
$10,000 cap on fees levied on developers,
which are based on one-tenth of one per-
cent of the offering plan for development.
Had the measure been in effect last year,
it would have generated $24 million.
That's enough for 800 homesteading
projects under the program's current
financing. Opposition from the Repub-
lican-controlled Senate and Governor
Cuomo stalled the bill this past spring
but it will get another chance at the
Legislature's special session in Novem-
14
(HIP) loans-also federally funded-will
be available to homesteaders to supple-
ment the Homesteading Loans, but only
after the new owners move in and rehab
is nearing completion. Currently,
however, HIP funds are depleted and
there is no estimate of when they will be
replenished.
Without a whole-hearted commitment
from the city, homesteading programs
may be forever doomed to raise high the
hopes of home seekers way beyond their
capacity to meet people's needs, as evi-
denced by the thousands who obtained
applications for the lottery. If the city
truly considers homesteading an impor-
tant component in "helping to rebuild
neighborhoods throughout the city" as
the mayor said on August 24, this pilot
program will be the start of an on-going
effort to provide homes and financing to
low and moderate income people. 0
ber or December.
The two main areas of disagreement
between proponents such as Grannis, the
bill's sponsor, and the governor are who
will control the fund and how it will be
financed. Cuomo would prefer that the
Housing Finance Authority, generally in-
volved in large-scale developing projects
and with little experience in low income
housing, administer the fund. Grannis
and others see the state's Division of
Housing and Community Renewal as the
logical administrator. With regards to fi-
anance, Cuomo would like to see a
straight appropriation from general
revenues, while proponents prefer to
have a recurring revenue source that
would not be subject to yearly budgeting
haggling. OA.F.
~
:J


Astral Apartments on Franklin and India Streets in Greenpoint.
HISTORIC NEGLECT
Even though rent increases and a city loan have been granted,
tenants of a historic Greenpoint building can't get repairs.
By Linda Ocasio
'I JHEN CHARLES PRATT BUILT the Astral Apartments
'" '" in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in 1886, he intended it to be a
model of decent housing for the workers he employed in his oil
refinery on Bushwick Creek. The six-story apartment complex
had 114 apartments and a large courtyard. But the Astral was not
merely a place to hang one's hat; Pratt also established a settle-
ment house, a kindergarten, and a free library in the Astral
Apartments.
A sign above the reading room fireplace admonished: "Waste
neither time nor money."
Pratt's benevolence also led to the establishment of the Pratt In-
stitute in 1887, to "help all classes of workers, artists, artisans, ap-
prentices and homemakers."
Today, almost a hundred years later, Pratt Institute still thrives;
Pratt's independent oil refineries were taken over by Standard Oil
in 1902, and the only remnants of that industry are the empty oil
storage tanks that remain on the north Brooklyn waterfront.
The Astral Apartments, no longer in the Pratt family, have sur-
vived less gracefully. For one thing the Astral offers tenants a great
deal less today than it did in 1886. The settlement house, kinder-
garten, and library are gone; the courtyard is a dumping ground
15
for garbage and discarded stoves and sinks which rust there. On
a recent visit, apartments were in various states of disrepair: fall-
ing ceilings, incomplete renovations (or shoddy when complet-
ed), and sporadic services (some tenants have gone for months
without hot water).
But the Astral still possesses an imposing facade, and a visitor
today can understand the enthusiasm of the Brooklyn Eagle writer
who introduced the Astral to his readers on Dec. 5, 1885:
Brown stone is the construction material to the under-
sills of the first story, also in the central facade on
Franklin Street, and, together with terra cotta is used
in the ornamentation of the doors, windows and cor-
nices. Elsewhere the edifice is composed of brick,
and attracts the eye by the refinement and elegance
of design. The noble Norman archways which charac-
terize the magnificent Tiffany mansion on Madison
Avenue, New York, have been used in the construc-
tion of the six entrances. The whole structure is sur-
mounted by an artistic cornice of brick and terra cotta,
and gables supporting massive bordering chimneys.
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
.- I
Because the Astral is a block away from the East River (and
there are no larger buildings to obstruct it) many of the apartments
have impressive views of the Manhattan skyline.
If the Astral offers an elegant facade, inside is something else
again. The hallways are extraordinarily wide, but the apartments
themselves are divided into small cubicles for rooms. (This ha!!
not stopped the owners from charging rents in the $400 to $500
range to newer tenants, who have wearied of fmding anything in
Manhattan.)
Years of neglect have taken its toll. It is hard to imagine today
that the Astral was built with the intention of serving the working
poor. For its tenants, life at the Astral today has become an en-
durance test.

Jean Stedman grew up in Williamsburgh, moved to Greenpoint,
and then Park Slope- before returning to Greenpoint. "Everyone
had their feelings about the Astral," she recalled. "I thought it was
big, weird and scary."
But when she saw an ad for an apartment in the Astral two years
ago, she didn't hestitate. "I called all summer long in 1982," she
said. But despite the ad, the super said there were no vacancies.
Undaunted, Jean confronted the super and finally was shown a
three-room apartment. Jean, who has two daughters in grade
school, was told it would be temporary until a four-room opened
up. The rent was $260.
"The apartment was a mess," Jean said, but she expected it to
be ready in three weeks. But when she arrived with all her pos-
sessions, the apartment was still uninhabitable.
"There was human waste, and grafitti on the wall," she said.
"The moving men helped me sweep up, and I put everything in
one room."
By the time the apartment was fixecl up, a larger one became
available, and new owners had taken over the Astral. The Surillo
Group Corp. told Jean they had no obligation to fix the four-room
. apartment which needed a plaster job, a painting, and a door in
the bathroom. Jean took them to court, and meanwhile withheld
rent. In March 1984, thirteen months after she initiated the ac-
tion, she won the case-but the intervening year was not easy.
"They have a good gift for gab," Jean said. "They talk and
promise, but they never come through." The S.G. Corp. constantly
postponed the trial-"and they used the time to harass me." A whole
line of laundry disappeared from the courtyard twice. A neigh-
bor saw it the second time, but was afraid to stop the culprits, Jean
said, because he recognized them as workmen in the building.
As Jean spoke, the managing agent for the Astral, at that time,
Lydia Delgado (also known as Katherine Wenders) called to say
tnat a workman would sheetrock the bathroom next week. Jean
was pleased. "I've been fighting all year, so she's reconciling a
bit." But she remained skeptical. She pointed to a cabinet door
which had been installed with the hinges on the outside: sloppy
repairs were another way to harass her.
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
16
When Jean won her case last March, she received reimburse-
ment for repairs she paid for herself, damages, a rent-stabilized
lease, and the much-needed repairs.
Jean's commitment to organizing the Astral did not stop with
her victory in the courtroom, however. Together with Anne An-
drade, another Astral tenant who works at the People's Firehouse,
she began a tenant's association.
In the past year, JFm Corp. has taken over as the succesor cor-
poration to S.G. Corp; little has changed at the Astral, as might
be expected. According to a lawyer working with the Astral
tenants, 4'dia Delgado has asserted that she is a principal owner
ofJFm.

For longtime tenants of the Astral, there has been little if any
distinction between owners in the past several years: they have
all presided over the decline of the Astral.
Pat McClure has lived at the Astral since 1961. What she remem-
bers going first was "mainly the plumbing, and then the heat." She
also noticed the rotting windows. Five years ago, storm windows
were put in, paid for through the citys SA loan program. Of the
ten windows in McClure's two-bedroom apartment, only two work
properly. The others have broken sashes or do not fit correctly.
Also, as a top-floor tenant, she has first-hand knowledge of the
shoddy roof work; the ceiling in her living room has collapsed
three times during the winter months under the weight of accumu-
lated snow. The water came through her ceiling like a faucet,
damaging a drop ceiling and a light fixture.
Pat blames workmen who took jackhammers on the roof "to
remove decorations and gargoyles" for the weak roof. She is not
hopeful that the latest repair job is any better than the last two.
"I want to see what happens with the first snow."
Incompetence knows no bounds at the Astral. Six months ago,
workmen actually constructed a wooden trough around the
bathroom ceiling to contain water from a leaking pipe-instead
of attacking the source of the problem. As luck would have it, a
hot water inspector came by that day, and was outraged by what
he saw. The troughs were immediately removed, and the pipe
repaired.
"It's a three-hour job that no one wanted to do;' said Pat. "It was
such an asinine thing to build a trough." There is still a trough
in the kitchen. It's not doing a thing, she said, but it has to stay,
to prove what was done.
For Hispanic tenants, the harassment has taken a slightly more
sinister form. In addition to neglected repairs in their apartments,
Lydia Delgado has asked to see the green cards of a few of them.
The tenant assOCiation counselled its Hispanic memoers that they
did not have to comply with this illegal request.
Other indignities awaited the tenant association when Howard
Cohen took over as managing agent through his HSC Manage-
ment Corp.
Frustrated with the delay in repairs and broken promises, the
..
Years of neglect have taken their toll. It
is hard to imagine today that the Astral
was built with the intention of serving
the working poor. Life there today has
become an endurance test.
tenant association began a rent strike in May. Fifteen families
participated - not a large number out of the 114 apartments at the
Astral (even allowing for 10 to 15 vacancies) . But in June, Mr.
Cohen attended a tenant meeting - and asked tenants to maintain
their building.
uI don't want to throw money away," he said. '"I don't want any-
one in this room breaking or damaging the intercom." The inter-
coms on the India and Franklin St. buildings are chronically
broken.
He continued in this vein, asking tenants to pay the rent, and
stating his commitment '"to individual problems." Cohen said the
repairs would be done within two months.
One Hispanic tenant protested Cohen's implication, and spoke
up: UNo son animales"-We are not animals. But Cohen made no
indication that he understood the man's anger.
At that June meeting, the tenants voted to continue the rent
strike. But by August the tenants agreed to give Cohen a chance.
The striking tenants got one month free for coming off the strike.
They made it clear, however, that they would resume the strike
if repairs were not made promptly, as promised.
I .
In addition to individual court cases that some tenants are pur-
suing to gain immediate repairs, the Astral is attempting to join
the lawsuit Bryant Avenue Tenants Association, et al. v. Koch, ef
al. The lawsuit is challenging the rent increases based on major
capital improvements, or MCI.
Among the points made in the suit: tenants pay over and over
for repairs, long after the owner has recouped the amount invest-
ed. In the case of the Astral, tenants pay for repairs that were never
done, or that were done in a slipshod manner. The suit also points
out that rent increases based on MCI must not exceed 6 percent
of the annual gross rent; at the Astral, rents have been raised to
42 %. (For more information on MCI, see Bonnie Brower, '"The
Fail-Safe Business of Rehab," City Limits, Feb.lMarch 1984.
Ironically, the owners of the Astral have applied for landmark
status in the past few years, a vain attempt in light of the degrada-
tion of the Astral's original purpose. Sharon Wiggins, a tenant,
volunteered her time to research the Astral. In the basement of
the Astral, she said, behind a broken boiler, stands an ornamen-
tal fireplace, with the legend above it: '"Waster neither time nor
money."
For the Astral's tenants, the time and money for repairs may
yet come together. 0
Linda Ocasio is a freelance writer who lives in Greenpoint,-
Brooklyn.
17 CITY LIMITS/October 1984
7
/
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
18
PlR THOSE ORGANIZATIONS NOT
.I' fully supported by some anonymous,
benificent provider who asks no questions
and attaches no conditions, economic real-
ity dictates they play the funding game to
piece together an operating budget and pay
salaries. Anyone who has had to make the
rounds of funding agencies knows how
demoralizing, not to mention humiliating,
it can be. When the object of desire is money
from the government - city, state or feder-
al - there are the added dimensions of red
tape and, in the age of Reagan, a shrinking
pool of funds.
Following is a brief survey of four of the
city's major funding programs for organi-
zations involved in housing and neighbor-
hood development with insights from some
of the groups who are regular customers. In
general, these programs are difficult for new
groups to enter because of budgetary limi-
tations. Once accepted though, most groups
continue to receive funding year after year.
All are subject to potential influences: it's
not always how meritorious the project but
how solid a group's political connections that
may determine funding. One member of a
community group acknowledged that they
would receive a Commercial Revitalization
grant because of their support of a borough
president. Of all governmental sources of
furiding, New York City money is consi-
dered by many to have the most political
strings tied to it.
Commercial Revitalization Program
When the commercial strip in a neighbor-
hood starts to go - facades cracking, side-
walks crumbling, customers disappearing
- it's a bad sign for a neighborhood. The
health of local enterprises is inextricably
tied to the well-being of the community in
which they are ensconced and upon which
they depend. To stem the tide of deteriora-
tion in neighborhoods, the city's Public De-
velopment Corporation instituted the
Commercial Revitalization Program in 1978.
Administered by the Neighborhood Eco-::
nomic Development Department (NEDD),
this program has funded revitalization
projects in 74 neighborhoods targeted by the
PDe. A local community organization acts
as the sponsor and signs a contract to im-
plement the plan designed for the particu-
lar street. Money is earmarked for physical
improvements, incentives to private invest-
ment and technical assistance to improve
business practices. The local sponsor works
with local merchants groups to raise match-
ing funds.
Los Sures, a community group in Wil-
liamsburg, Brooklyn, is entering phase
three of its contract with NEDD. Phase one,
begun several years ago, focused on capital
improvements such as trash receptacles,
medallions and decals placed in stores iden-
tifying the face-lift project and decorative
window seals on vacant apartments. During
phase two, which is budgeted at $155,000,
Los Sures will offer capital assistance to
merchants on a one-to-three basis for im-
provements to the facades and interiors of
stores. Other accomplishments include a
marketing survey to identify shoppers and
their needs done by a demographics analyst
and a newspaper - Vista del Puente. Accord-
ing to project coordinator Julio Colon,
things have gone so well that the PDC has
committed $1.5 million for major improve-
ments including lights, trees and sidewalks.
For information contact: Barbara Wolff,
Director, Neighborhood &onomic Devel-
opment Department, 17 John St. - 10th
Floor, NY 10038; 566-7433/34.
Community Management Program
Started in 1975, this program awards con-
tracts to non-profit community organiza-
tions to manage and repair occupied,
tax-foreclosed multi-unit dwellings. The end
purpose of the program is to sell the build-
ing to the tenants or group when rehabilita-
tion is complete and a stable occupancy is
established.
Eligible buildings must be in an area tar-
geted for Community Development funds,
be at least 50 percent occupied and in sal-
vagable condition. Groups interested in this
program must have a proven track record as
a housing management corporation.
In fiscal year 1984, the Community
Management Program awarded $21.7 mil-
lion in contracts to 22 organizations to
repair, manage and maintain services in 180
buildings. While the program is theoretical-
ly open to any group that meets the eligibil-
ity criteria, it is not too easy for new ones
to enter the fold because of a fixed budget.
But in fiscal 1983, six new groups were ap-
proved for the program while one group was
dropped.
Thelia Brookes, at the West Harlem Com-
munity Organization, administers her
group's Community Management Program
grant of $1.7 million. "The paper work is
very cumbersome but the program works
the best. It is the only program to put so
many buildings back on the tax rolls," she
said. West Harlem, which was one of the
first five organizations to participate in the
program, currently manages 15 buildings
and owns another eight . For information,
call Mike Simon , Community Management
Program, HPD, 75 Maiden Lane, New York,
NY 10038.
19
Community Development Agency-
Community Action Program
In 1964, at the height of the 'war on
poverty: the federal government enacted the
Economic Opportunity Act which gave birth
on the state level to the Community De-
velopment Agency. Fifteen years later a
major restructuring created the city-wide
Community Action Board and 33 Area Poli-
cy Boards. The idea behind the Area Policy
Boards, which are elected every two years,
was to have a democratic system for disburs-
ing CDA funds for community services
based on the particular needs of an area.
Each Board would receive a chunk of CDA
money directly proportional to the area's
population receiving public assistance. The
allocation plan was formulated in 1980 and
used census data to determine the distribu-
tion of funds.
For fiscal 1984, Zl6 community organi-
zations share in a CDA budget of$15.5 mil-
lion that was apportioned by the Boards.
Requests for Proposals are sent out by the
Boards in the spring with an application
deadline at the end of June. After the Boards
make their decisions on which groups to
fund and how much they will receive, CDA
reviews the procedures and process followed
by the Boards in selecting the groups. In
general, the CDA automatically accepts the
Boards' recommendations and approves the
groups' proposals.
Gaylen Kirkland, director of the West
Harlem Community Organization says his
group applied for a CDA grant for the first
time this year. "It took several days of work
to put together the application. It was one
of the most detailed and not at all well
thought out," he commented. Roi Crouch,
director of the Pratt Area Community Coun-
cil in Fort Greene, Brooklyn said her group
has never gotten CDA funds and they prob-
ably won't. "I wouldn't go near them," she
said. "It is horrendous. There are bookkeep-
ing problems, constant bureaucratic wran-
gling, low salaries and no control over your
own money." Aside from the program's ad-
ministrative shortcomings, the Area Policy
Boards have come under scrutiny from com-
munity organizations and the CDA itself for
the potential political power they can wield
in a community. For a funding system
designed to ensure democratic process and
serve community needs, the Boards are,
ironically, prey to the schemes of people
who are more interested in serving them-
selves than community members (see side-
bar). For information contact John
Donohue, Community Development Agen-
cy, 349 Broadway, NY 10013; 334-7151.
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
Community Consultant Contracts
Launched in 1978, this program contracts
with community-based and city-wide non-
profits to provide technical assistance on
housing-related projects. This fiscal year,
the City's Dept. of Housing Preservation
and Development will award $3.3 million to
77 groups and another half-million dollars
to fifteen groups never before funded for in-
novative projects.
Despite the vital role contracting organi-
zations play in neighborhood and housing
services, the program is perennially plagued
by administrative and financial flaws that
hamper the consultants. A voucher system
in which groups are refunded for expenses
twice monthly creates real problems for
groups, according to Roi Crouch at the Pratt
Area Coordinating Council. Slow registra-
tion of contracted groups and a resultant
cash flow difficulty mean that bridge loans
from lending institutions are often necessary
to tide groups over until their first advance
comes through.
This year was particularly nerve-
wracking, says Joan Shapiro at the Jewish
Community House in Bensonhurst. "Our
contract expired on June 30 and we still ha-
ven't received money. Foundations won't
give bridge loans for these contracts and
many groups can't afford commercial loans."
She and Crouch organized the Community
Consultant Contract Coalition which, for
the past couple of years, has lobbied for
change in the fiscal and administrative poli-
cies of the program. On September 17, they
met with HPD Deputy Commissioner
Charles Reiss and new contract compliance
and audit unit head Alaine Clark. Report-
Lower Easl Side Groups
ChaUenge City Fanden
'I THEN CONSIDERING THE COM-
'"' munity Development Agency's Com-
munity Action Program as a viable source
of funding, one cannot help but reckon with
the experiences of the Cooper Square Com-
munity Development Committee on the
LoWer East Side. Their story is like a night-
time TV soap opera, with all the intrigue,
drama ane} requisite power struggles.
Cooper Square first applied to the CDA
two years ago and was initially denied fund-
ing for reasons that were never made clear.
That rejection initiated a lengthy appeal
process at CDA and revealed the unortho-
dox and highly improper nature of Area
Policy Board 3's allocations (see City Limits,
October 1982). Ultimately, Cooper Square
received $38,000. This year, Cooper Square
applied again, requesting $63,000 of a total
budget of $703,800. Not only was their re-
quest turned down, but so were the pro-
posals of many other longtime community
groups such as the East Village Multi-
Services Center, Action for Progress and the
Sixth Street Community Center.
The policy board's method of choosing
eleven groups out of 26 applicants infuriat-
ed even some of the board's own members.
A subcommittee of eight people was set up
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
to rate the applications, but not all members
sawall the proposals. Board chair Ramon
Iglesias took all the rated proposals, effec-
tively preventing the entire board from giv-
ing input and forestalling debate. When
representatives of groups denied funds tried
to request an explanation at the board's
August 21 meeting, Iglesias ended the pub-
lic meeting and called an executive session,
for board members only.
The CDA will have to answer for the ac-
tions of its board to the New York Civil
Liberties Union and .City Councilwoman
Miriam Friedlander, as well as the commu-
nity groups. "The issue," according to CDA
Chief of Staff John Donohue, "is to review
the due process of Policy Board 3. We have
worked closely with the APB since the 1983
elections. There is one liaison person as-
signed to the board, when normally the as-
signment is to many groups. The problem
is that the area contains a collection of peo-
ple who represent various interests, people
who are bound to disagree on issues when
they get together."
The problem seems to be more than the
normal divergence of opinion among peo-
ple. Where the control of money is involved,
the issues usually include power and can
20
ed Shapiro: "Reiss was surprised about the
problems we've had and seemed apologet-
ic. We went over the issues and got some
changes. Requests for Proposals will be sent
out in January instead of April to speed
registration. We corrected some of the
voucher problems on the spot with Anne
Marie Leal who supervises finances. We
also asked HPD to request HUD waivers for
the interest charges many of us will have to
pay as a result of being forced to get bridge
loans."
ASof that meeting, ten groups still hadn't
been registered at the Office of Management
and Budget, a problem HPD attributed to .
missing information on the contracts. And
a problem of voucher rollovers from the
previous contract year means groups must
wait four to six months for reimbursements
- a total of half a million dollars this year,
according to Crouch. But through all the
hassling and worries about meeting payroll,
Crouch finds optimism in her last encoun-
ter with HPD. "I think HPD is starting to or-
ganize itself." After six years of operating
the consultant program, one hopes she is
right.D A.F.
mean th.e survival or extinction of an organi-
zation. Since the creation of the boards in
1979, the system has been criticized for be-
ing too vulnerable to political machinations
and favoritism. Cooper Square director
Valerio Orselli sees a clear connection be-
tween the activities of his group and Action
for Progress and the Policy Board's refusal
to fund them. "We are the most active mem-
bers ofthe anti-gentrification movement in
the Lower East Side and are involved in the
court suit against the Grand Street co-ops.
There is collusion between the APB and the
CDA."
According to research done by staff of
Cooper Square, one group that was fund-
ed, the Puerto Rican Council , submitted an
incomplete application yet received the
highest amount-$233,OOO-ninety percent
more than its grant last year. The Council
is headed by Roberto Napoleon who, along
with his associates, controls various East
Side groups including the Puerto Rican
Council Day Care Center and the tenants as-
sociations at the public housing projects
Baruch and Lillian Waldo
Cooper Square is still trying to find out
the reasons for the rejection of its funding
proposal and is ready to go through the long
and winding legal channels to find out. "If
the APB turns down our appeal oftheir de-
cision, we'll appeal to the CDA and then the
courts. We have other sources of funding,
but not getting this money may mean that
some staff people get laid off," said
Orselli . DA.F.
Legislation: Washing _
A Lackluster
Congress-
But There's
Hope for
Change
By Rev. Donald A. Sakano
S
OMEWHERE THERE'S A Chinese
fortune cookie maker with a housing
problem. It just seemed to me that he or she
had some need to pour out the aches and
pains of high rents, sparse space, dwindling
services and no vacancy rate into a little bitty
piece of paper rolled up inside of an other-
wise uneventful fortune cookie.
Relaxing with a hot cup of tea, I ritualis-
tically broke into my cookie and there it was.
From a person who undoubtedly has been
bruised by the cruelties of our housing mar-
ket came a message of good cheer to a per-
feet stranger dining in a Chinese restaurant.
It read simply "Hard work will bring good
housing and a better life."
It came at just the right time. Being de-
pressed lately by the status of housing legis-
lation - the regressive attitude of Congress,
the hostility of the Reagan Administration
and the distressing no-show performance
behind Cuomo's "housing friendly rheto-
ric"-my Chinese friend's missive was just
what I needed. It was like a little cloud open-
ing up and a voice from heaven saying,
"Donald, don't give up this legislative
advocacy stuff. There's hope!"
Well, there is hope. The National Low
Income Housing Conference that took place
in Washington last June was truly a prophet-
ic sign that the housing picture will improve
in the future. Over 500 people from all over
the country drew up policy positions for the
National Low Income Housing Conference,
but that was the easy part. Now in the
months and even years ahead comes the hard
work of pulling together a broad based net-
work of grassroots people who will fight for
I
decent and affordable housing in every
block, neighborhood, city and state in the
nation.
My fortune cookie told me that things
would get better, but before it does we need
a smart and alert constituency behind hous-
ing issues. We must be specific about an
agenda, learn how the legislative process
works and keep the legislators accountable
to our issues.
The key to success is not, rm sorry to say,
the moral arguments advanced by a hand-
ful of people about homelessness, over-
crowding and substandard conditions. The
21
only way to center the Congress on the hous-
ing crisis is to bring that crisis to their doors
in a mass movement of letters, calls and
visits to Capitol Hill and local offices. It's
hard work but it's the only way.
The 98th Congress
The attention given to low and moderate
income housing by this Congress, now
winding down to a close, was lack-luster, to
say the least. The enactment of the Housing
and Urban Rural Recovery Act (HURRA)
in November, 1983 will probably be best
remembered by the fact that it repealed the
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
Sec. 8 New Construction and Substantial
Rehab programs and left us with the measly
Sec. 17 programs-Housing Development
Grants (HODAG) and the Rental Rehab
Grants ($615 million for Fiscal Years '84 and
'85).
The HURRA was a two-year authoriza-
tion bill that will expire in June, 1985. All
of the present programs - Sec.8 Existing and
Moderate Rehab, Sec.202 for the Elderly
and Handicapped, Sec.235 Homeowner-
ship, etc.- need to be extended and/or new
ones added. Between now and the spring is
the time for us to call upon the House and
Senate Housing Sub-Committees to hold
public hearings around the country to get in-
put on what the new housing bill should
contain.
The rest of the 98th Congress dealt with
two basic housing legislative issues-(1) re-
forming the tax code relevant to real estate
management, and (2) appropriating funds
for programs authorized by HURRA.
The Tax Reform Act of 1984
The enactmel)t of this important bill in
June did get the media's attention but bewil-
dered most people because it tackled the
mysterious world of tax expenditures. The
impetus behind H.R. 4170 was a noble one-
reforming the tax code in order to slow down
the hemorrhaging of income for the U.S.
Treasury. However, the fear oflow income
housing advocates was that the broom
wielded by the powerful House Ways and
Means Finance Committees, would sweep
away some of the last remaining supports for
low income housing development, particu-
larly the l67(k) program. Allowing for an
accelerated tax write-off of rehab costs in
low/moderate income projects, many in
Congress were willing to let the program ex-
pire. However, the political maneuverings
of people like Sen. Al DJ\mato and Con-
gressman Charles Rangel extended the pro-
gram for another three years.
Also, extended for four years is the "sun-
set provision" of the mortgage interest-
reduction program for first-time home-
buyers. Using tax-exempt bonds, state
housing finance agencies (in our case, the
State of New York Mortgage Agency or
SONYMA) are able to raise capital for
banks who in turn lend it to lucky fdmilies.
(Remember the long lines of people in July!)
The legal foundation for multi-family
housing development is the Industrial De-
velopment Bond program (IDB's) which al-
lows states to issue tax-exempt bonds to
finance projects that must set aside 20 per-
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
cent of the units for filmilies who are 80 per-
cent of median income or lower. Since IDB's
have been used by states to finance a bur-
geoning array of public and private projects
(shopping centers, filctories, public facili-
ties), the attempt to control use of tax-
exempt financing by the imposition of a
"cap" on each state's volume of bond issues
would have severely limited their use for the
development of housing, since housing
would have to compete with everything else.
The House Ways and Means Committee
fought hard for the volume cap concept and
won, but not without conceding to pressure
from housing advocates to exempt from the
. volume cap bonds issued to finance multi-
family housing.
The HUD Appropriations Bill ofFYl98S
This measure brings no relief to the grow-
ing crisis in the nation around the need for
decent and affordable housing. A compro-
mise between House and Senate, the bill
adds up to $10.75 billion in new budget
authority and is designed to expand the
nation's supply of subsidized low income
housing by 113,215 units. The backbone of
this strategy, however, is to rely on the pri-
vate, existing stock 37,500 Section 8 certifi-
cates and 42,000 "vouchers" are to be issued
in FY1985.
Relying on the use of the existing hous-
ing stock, the Administration and Senate
have been pushing the voucher approach as
the best way to assist low income house-
holds. Housing advocates insist that
vouchers are even less viable in the hous-
ing market than Section 8 Certificates but
since they are cheaper (a 5-year commit-
ment for vouchers as opposed to the 15-year
Section 8 Certificate program), Congress
has allowed vouchers to playa larger role
in the housing budget.
The 1985 spending bill does approve Sec.
8 funds for 5,000 units of moderate rehab
and 12,000 units of housing for the elderly
and handicapped under the Sec. 202 pro-
gram (down from 14,000 units in 1984).
Also, the House won a commitment for
5,000 new units of public housing.
The 1984 Supplemental Appropriations
Bill (H.R. 6(40)
Designed to take care of unfinished busi-
ness, H.R. 6040 provides for $150 million
for the Sec. 235 homeownership program.
Another feature ofthe bill is the appropria-
tion of $70 million for the development of
emergency shelters. Originally intended for
22
nonprofit organiZations, the bill instructs the
administrative agency, Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA), to consider
applications for public jurisdictions as well.
In New York City, this could mean that the
money could be used to underwrite the cost
of the every-growing city shelter system.

The 98th Congress continues to remain
complacent about the housing crisis. $10.75
billion in new budget authority is a national
disgrace when compared to the assisted-
housing budget of1981-$31 billion. While
it is arguable that the Congress is reluctant
to propose new spending initiatives to a
President who will only veto such measures, -..
it is also true that there is no fighting spirit
in Congress, no will to achieve savings in
other areas. The National Low Income
Housing Coalition estimates that since 75
percent of the homeowner tax deduction
goes to the top 15 percent of the income dis-
tribution, cutting in half the amount re-
ceived by the rich would provide enough
revenues to finance the cost of developing
housing for millions of Americans who are
ill-housed or not housed at all.
My fortune cookie told me that things
would get better. Obviously, a lot rests on
the results of the elections in November. As
the entire House of Representatives and one-
third of the Senate seats are up for grabs, it
is an opportune time to bring our case to the
candidates. Each and every one should be
tested for their commitment to work toward
a resolution of the housing crisis-to wit,
a significant expansion of affordable hous-
ing opportunities. If we don't mean business,
neither will the 99th Congress that convenes
in January. 0
HOUSING ISSUES
KIT AVAILABLE
The National Low Income Housing
Coalition has available a "Take the Pledge
Campaign Kit" which contains all you
need to pin down your Congressional
candidates on housing issues. It's also a
great tool for organizing candidates'
forums and letter writing campaigns. Put
housing on the political agenda this
November! For the packet, call NLIHC
at (202) 544-2544, or Father Don Sakano
at (212) 371-1000 ext. 2457.0
Community Profiles
In rem
Properties
City Planning's
Compulers Map
the Neigh-
borhoods
T
HE DEPARTMENT OF CITY PLAN-
ning released the first of its new com-
puter map atlases for community districts
this summer. They will be joined by 31 more
over coming months.
The Planning Department's "District At-
las 84," as they're called, is a significant
departure from other information provided
by the agency. For the first time, simple
computer-drawn maps give a clear indica-
tion of land use, public fac ilities and
property location within the community dis-
trict right down to the level of blocks and
property lots.
The first two atlases are for Manhattan's
Community District Three (the Lower East
Side)and District Four in Brooklyn (Bush-
wick). Atlases for each of the 31 other com-
munity districts in the city which qualify for
use of federal Community Development
Block Grant funds will be issued over the
next nine months.
The graphics display overviews of a num-
ber of aspects of the community: residen-
tial, commercial and industrial land use,
public facilities, vacant land, one- and two-
family structures, walk-Ups and elevator
buildings, community residential facilities,
schools, location of in rem property and
publicly assisted housing.
These overviews are followed by base
maps which show the exact block and lot
locale of these properties. The net effect is
to be able to get both a quick visual view of
the extent of different kinds of land use in
the district and to be able to translate that
overview into exact addresses.
There's a slight hitch in trying to match
up these base maps with the numbered block
and lot maps, however, with much page flip-
ping entailed. Another drawback is that
while you get a great vi sual image of the ex-
tent of, say, one and two-family homes, there
is no aggregate data included in the atlas,
something project designers at the Pl anning
Department say would have entailed a much
more lengthy guide. Although the data is
available from other sources, it would seem
like the atlases would be a good location for
it as well.
These maps also continue an ongoing
confusion emanating from both city plan-
ning and the housing departments on pub-
licly assisted housing. The maps lump
together all projects which began as new
construction, giving the impression that
middle income Mitchell-Lama projects, for
instance, are the same as low income pub-
lic housing. A more truthful portrait would
visually distinguish between the two.
This fall , the Planning Department will
release atlases for Manhattan Districts 9, 10,
11 and 12. Each atlas is $4.00 if picked up,
$6.50 if ordered by mail.
Housing Data Base
Earlier this year, the Planning Depart-
ment also published a six-volume guide to
the city.'s public and publicly assisted hous-
ing. The "Housing Data Base" comprises a
volume for each borough plus a one-volume
citywide guide which contains summary ta-
bles for the city, the boroughs and the com-
munity districts.
Manhattan Community Di
Lower East Side
Chinatown
East Village
Two Bridges
ReSidential
Industrial & c
ommercial
Vacant
The Data Base was requested of the city
by the federal Department of Housing and
Urban Development in 1979 in conjunction - : ; ; ; ; : ~ ~ ! : : ! ~ ~ ! - J ; ; ~ ~ ~ ~
with its CDBG approval. The Planning
Department collected data from each of the
agencies involved in assisting housing in the
city- HUD, the state's Division of Housing
and Community Renewal, the city Housing
Department and the Housing Authority.
The result is that a great deal of informa-
tion usually spread over a number of differ-
ent sources is brought together for the first
time. The reports have data for every hous-
ing assistance program, from the largest,
public housing and Mitchell-Lama projects,
to the smallest - 312 loans and the Home Im-
provement Program.
The information in the citywide volume
(all data in the reports is current through
mid-1982) is prefaced with capsule descrip-
tions of the different housing programs as
well as breakdowns of the number of units
created by each program. (There are two im-
portant gaps in these figures , one an omis-
sion caused by time: since Section 235
homes were far from completion, no num-
bers were included here; the other is more
self-serving: the city's Municipal Loan Pro-
gram, an overwhelming number of whose
unit s have been lost due to owner-
abandonment , is omitted entirely because,
according to the book, "there are too many
23
gaps in the available data.")
The borough volumes are organized by
Community District and have complete list-
ings by address and project name of each as-
sisted housing development and tell the
status, number of buildings and units, and
recent rent or carrying charges. A second
series of tables attempts to show all projects
broken down by government agency, with
bedroom distribution and construction and
development costs per unit and overall. Ap-
parently much of this data was inaccessible
for most of those categories are blank.
Information on number of units created
with the tax abatement programs 421 and
J-51 are provided by census tracts within
community districts. Another table shows
the location of Section 8 rent certificates,
also by census tract and showing average
rent per room.
The Housing Data Base is available from
City Planning for $25 for the set of six
volumes, or $5 apiece. By mail the cost is
$30 and $6.50 respectively. The City Plan-
ning Department's Map Sales Office is in
Room 1616, 2 Lafayette Street, New York, NY
10007. Call (212) 566-1902. DT.R.
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
_1--------------------------
IIASS TRANSIT
STREET THEATRE
DBAMAFOR
ORGANIZERS
L
AST SPRING, THE MASS TRANSIT
Street Theatre, which has been produc-
ing and performing community-based and
oriented theatre for over a decade in New
York City, presented "Neighbors," its latest
musical comedy with a social point. Over
the coming fall and winter, the group will
continue its performances and will be avail-
able for fund raisers and community events
for groups at work in the city's neigh-
borhoods.
Since 1970, Mass Transit has been creat-
ing and presenting plays which originate and
focus on the everyday problems of poor and
working New Yorkers. Currently a seven-
member troupe, Mass Transit is a profes-
CllY LIMITS/October 1984
A scene from Left to right: Jerry Cofta, Lorenzo and Laurie Williams.
sional (Actor'S Equity) acting company that
aims to create theatre with a distinct differ-
ence. A combination of interviews and con-
versations with community organizers,
activists and participants in ongoing strug-
gles, as well as the actors' own experiences,
provide the background and basis for plays
which merge dance, comedy, songs and
drama.
Earlier Mass Transit productions have
used such topics as workplace health and
safety, sex role conditioning in the family
and anti-war organizing for plays which
weave the multiple contradictions confront-
ed by organizers trying to bring disparate
groups of people together.
24
"Each of our plays has focused on organiz-
ing;' said Lynn Pile, a Mass Transit found-
er, "we try to look at what gets in the way
of people becoming active with others to
solve their mutual problems."
Against a backdrop of today's crisis in
housing and homelessness, their new play,
"Neighbors" takes an upbeat look at the peo-
ple who might live on any working class city
block. ("When we did it in Newark, folks
thought it was their neighborhood," says
Pile. "And when we did it in the north Bronx
and in Greenpoint , people were convinced
it was based on their communities.")
The play shows lives intersecting in a mo-
ment of neighborhood crisis. A coalition of
groups has worked six years to reclaim an
abandoned building and create affordable
housing and a community center for local
residents. But on July 3rd-the day before
the nation's birthday-the building burns.
Hopes and dreams go up in its smoke. At
the headquarters of the neighborhood coa-
lition, as well as in Harry's Bar and in the
street, neighbors meet and despair. Differ-
ent people have different takes on what has
been lost. The play shows the community
grappling with the divisions of race, sex and
class. As the night progresses, the neighbor-
hoods rediscover their common values
which outweigh those differences.
"This play," says Lynn Pile, "is relevant to
New York City tenants just like "Ursula Un-
derdog Meets the Money Grabbers" [Mass
Transit's 1979 melodrama in which tenants
trounce landlord, politicians and political
interests]. But "Neighbors" deals much more
subtly with our problems. We're looking at
the problems people have developing
democratic coalitions while trying to rebuild
our communities."
Discussing the Links
"Theater can be a moment to share with
people we work with," adds Pile, "not just
the stress of what to do next, but our
thoughts and feelings about what we are do-
ing and why we do it. "Neighbors asks many
important questions in a way that moves
most people to want to talk about some an-
swers: What makes a better neighborhood?
What do I really want and what are our
options?"
After each performance, cast and the au-
dience sit together to talk about how the play
relates to the particular situation of this
group of people. For the organizer, it can be
a rare chance to get everyone talking about
what they're doing and what it means.
In October, Mass Transit will present
"Neighbors" in Maryland at the George
Meany AFL-CIO Labor Studies Center,
in Miami at the national convention of the
International Chemical Workers Union,
and other points south. They'll be back
in New York City, however, for a perfor-
mance on November 2nd in Queens for
the Queens Library Guild and a series of
performances in Manhattan at the
Washington Square Methodist Church
on November 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25.
Please call (718) 748-0785 for informa-
tion about these performances or to book
a performance for you and your
neighbors. 0
"In a funny, clever way;' said Fran Sugar-
man, an organizer with the Northwest
Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition
who saw the play last spring, "[the play]
forces people to see and think about things
they do every day. We identify with the
characters, and while we're laughing and
having fun, we're learning about our neigh-
borhood and the importance of the work
we're doing."
Another recent viewer, Linda Grey, who
works with the north Brooklyn-based Na-
tional Congress of Neighborhood Women,
described a Mass Transit playas "a chance
to focus in, to teach and learn without the
feel of a classroom. People of very differ-
ent backgrounds sit down and talk across the
usual dividing lines. The differences are
there-and they.affect our work-but in the
discussion, common themes keep coming
up: family, commitment to community and
caring. The discussion after the play gives
people a chance to say they care about
something-that they feel disappointed, that
they want to build on common concerns and
shared values."
Adds Pile: "It's these kind of
discussions-as well as the play-which
builds a commitment to continue in spite of
setbacks."
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CITY LIMITS/October 1984
Of South Bronx Blue: North lRT #2
by Pedro l. Leon
This is of South Bronx Blue: North IRT #2
Not scenic splendor but abandonment flu.
Do you not ponder as you ride
this subway train of diatribes
against those who live below
these subway tracks laid as a row
through this community rich with life
yet having its troubles, having its strife,
and find it odd without exception
that these are lives that seek redemption
just as we do in our daily toil
making our way through this urban turmoil?
Why must this community be attacked?
Is It not clear that with pain it's wracked
in fighting poverty and ubiquitous lack?
Why then must the odds be stacked?
Through my subway window it's very clear
that this South Bronx I hold so dear
has been dumped into America's moat
out of fear, out of need, for an easy scapegoat.
This is of South Bronx Blue: North IRT #2
not scenic splendor but abandonment flu.
Rising out of the tunnel (149th) look to your left and right.
Behold urban disaster. Behold urban "blight."
From Jackson Avenue to Boston Road
the view alone is a heavy load.
We look and sigh and wonder why,
no easy answers here, no pie in the sky.
Between Simpson and Freeman one can glance
at Charlotte's Street lot now left askant
by politicians long since vanished,
new rulers remain, 'tis the realm that's been banished.
Don't be blind. Don't you see! Don't you realize?
What's really out that window is not before your eyes.
This community's been raped, ruined and ravaged
not by its members but by the "civilized" savage.
Savage is the landlord that shows his appreCiation
never making repairs-income through depreciation
'" z
<
:l
~
<
and when that scheme's worn out he whispers: "Who is for hire?
I'll pay good money to set my building on fire."
Do you really believe stories of a family alone
crazy enough to burn out its home?
In a South Bronx bank before abandonment was born,
a landlord needed a loan.
"I truly need money, my boiler is blown.
There's no heat or hot water, my tenants will freeze.
As collateral I give you my building to seize.
I do have an account here, yes, for quite a long time,
now I need a loan to protect what is mine.
You see the boiler protects my building from frost,
if my tenants move out my investment is lost!"
CITY LIMITS/October 1984 26
As bankers will do, he just shook his head.
The landlord's face fell, his application was dead.
Said the banker in grimace: "With the loan you do pester.
We don't loan in South Bronx, we invest in Westchester."
Banks redline with Bronx deposits and have done so for years.
Don't keep blaming victims just to soothe angry fears.
Had the Government and Insurers done their jobs right
the South Bronx would have been saved more unnecessary blight.
This is of South Bronx Blue: North IRT #2
not scenic splendor but abandonment flu.
By public neglect and by private greed
this community's been put asunder with violent speed.
It is not Ft. Apache yet like the Civil War,
is the South after Sherman but burned floor by floor.
Look again out your train window, search and you'll find
a neighborhood of families working to climb
out of this devastation and persevere
through the neglect and the greed and the prejudiced fear
Making for themselves lives with dignity despite strife.
Out your subway window the South Bronx is alive,
Hope and Hard Work are its source of life.
Pedro L. Leon is a student at Hunter College. This
poem originally appeared in The Inquiry. Reprinted
with permission.
Put the
community
housing
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27
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CITY LIMITS/October 1984
ACTIVISM THAT MAKES SENSE:
Congregations and Community Organi1Jl-
tion by Gregory Pierce. New York: Paulist
Press, 1984. 545 Island Rd., Ramsey, N.J.
(J1446 $6.95.
By Sue Reynolds
In campaign speeches and in congrega-
tional decisions, the role of religion in po-
litical and community life is an increasingly
hot topic. So, good timing adds punch to this
book's single-minded argument for con-
gregational involvement in non-electoral,
Saul Alinsky-style community organizing.
Author Gregory Pierce speaks both lan-
guages, theology and organizing - as well
he might, with years of community organiz-
ing and lay religious participation behind
him. His "bilingual" approach expands the
appeal of this book well beyond his intend-
ed audience of religious congregations
struggling with their social responsibilities.
Secular organizers and activists will also
find intriguing ideas and useful tools in Ac-
tivism That Makes Sense, including insights
into the organizing approach that has locally
produced both the Queens Citizens Organi-
zation and East Brooklyn Churches (ofNe-
hemiah Plan fame).
Pierce directs his book primarily to those
congregations already convinced of the need
for a religious response to social ills - op-
pression, poverty, injustice. He is concerned
with helping congregations select an effec-
tive response which will involve the con-
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
Organiziag
CoDgregalioDs,
Aliasky's Way
gregation as a whole. Pierce begins by
brusquely disposing of the types of social
activism which too often divert congrega-
tional energy: the provision of social ser-
vices, political activism by individual
members, action by resolution, and involve-
ment in electoral politics. Anyone who has
ever been frustrated by the narrow limits of
these strategies will relish the pointed quo-
tations from religious figures in this section.
Father Andrew Greeley aptly calls voting on
resolutions, "a form of 'cheap grace: a way
of getting a moral 'kick' without doing
anything."
Theologian Walter Rauschenbusch asks,
"Why should Christian men [sic] wear out
their strength in curing the effects of evil and
have no word about the evil itself?"
Congregations that provide shelter to
homeless people, or worked in Rev. Jesse
Jackson's Presidential campaign, don't get
much sympathy or any support from Pierce.
For him, community organizing is the only
game in town and the rest of the book is an
explanation and somewhat theological de-
fense of Alinsky-type organizing. If you've
ever read his Rules For Radicals, you'll un-
derstand why the late Alinsky's ideas might
require some re-interpretation to be palata-
ble to the typical member of the clergy.
Alinsky was a crude, profane, pragmatic
genius of organizing tactics. As likely to
quote Lucifer as Jesus Christ or Moses, he
was openly committed to "non-ideological"
revolution by the "Have-Nots." Alinsky's
28
thoughts on ethics were as pragmatic as his
tactics: "The tenth rule of the ethics of means
and ends is that you do what you can with
what you have and clothe it with moral
garments."
Congregations that pro-
vide shelter to homeless
people, or worked in Rev.
Jesse Jackson s campaign,
don't get much sympathy
or support from Pierce.
For him, community or-
ganizing is the only game
in town.
Self Interest
Faced with such a problematic mentor,
Pierce uses religious arguments and exam-
ples from organizing campaigns to explain
why the basics of Alinsky's method - self-
interest and power - are both acceptable and
necessary principles for congregational ac-
tivism. About the first Pierce says, "A clear,
non-romantic understanding of self-interest
is a prerequisite for motivating people to do
anything. To get people where you want
them to be, you have to start where they
are . . . If they don't think that they can win
or at least make a difference, then they don't
tend to get involved. Symbolic protest or
r
consciousness raising hold little appeal to
most congregants."
With Old and New Testament quotations,
Pierce argues that enlightened self-interest
is not mere selfishness, but a part of human
nature that Judeo-Christian leaders have
long appealed to. A common criticism of the
principle of "taking people where they are"
is that it reinforces narrow or racist attitudes.
Pierce's response is an honest one: some-
times Alinsky's organizing encourages
parochial attitudes and sometimes it leads
participants beyond their immediate situa-
tion to a broader political analysis. Unfor-
tunately, Pierce does not explore how this
is done - an absolutely critical question for
the future of organizing. Pierce is more con-
cerned about the practical problems. Peo-
ple have to get politically involved somehow
and self-interest is the broadest invitation to
involvement.
Building a Power Base
A second principle of Alinsky organizing
is the need to build a power base capable of
negotiating in order to make change. It is not
enough for clergy to speak to the press, or
for people to demonstrate without a struc-
ture to follow up the demands on the next
day. Pierce patiently examines the nervous
reluctance of many congregations to become
involved in the potentially corrupting strug-
gle for power. If congregations intend to
bring their religious values into the every-
day world, they can't afford the luxury of
such purity, in Pierce's view.
Building a power base also means mak-
ing alliances across denominational, race
and class barriers. Pierce argues that con-
gregations involved in organizing are forced
to take on religious commitments to ecu-
menical and interracial cooperation - with
the side-benefit of potential opportunities for
evangelization as well. The trick, of course,
is to agree to disagree on certain issues
(abortion, Palestinian rights, etc.) and "leave
the baggage by the door."
Implicit in these arguments is the idea that
winning power also means accepting prag-
matism as a value coequal with more tradi-
tional religious principles. Says Pierce, "The
purpose of tactics is to win: not to be con-
troversial , not to show one's strength, not to
embarrass the opposition, not to gamer fur-
ther support, not to raise consciousness or
money, not to do action for its own sake-
but to win . . . Congregations involved in
community organizing have to make the
same decision about tactics . . . : Are they
moral and will they be successful?"
School for Organizers
In addition to defending these principles
of organizing, Activism That Makes Sense
also discusses approaches that are particu-
lar to the Industrial Areas Foundation
(IAF). Founded by Saul Alinsky himself in
1940, IAF is one of a number of national
Alinsky-style organizing training centers.
(Others include ACORN, National People's
Action/National Training and Information
Center and the Midwest Academy.) Local
organizations affiliated with the Industrial
Areas Foundation provided author Pierce
with eleven years of organizing experience
in the Midwest and Northeast and the ex-
amples used in his book.
To outsiders (like the reviewer), IAF is
best known for the organizing described by
Pierce, but IAF's approach involves other
rules as well. Without much explanation
Pierce asserts that membership in a commu-
nity organization should be limited to
groups and congregations, and exclude in-
dividuals. He also argues strenuously that
comniunity groups must maintain stability
and independence by becoming self-
sufficient on dues and avoiding government
and foundation funding. This stringent re-
quirement, along with the IAF emphasis on
paying professional salaries to organizers,
helps to explain a focus on congregational
organizing. Religious member groups have
ongoing fundraising abilities, and, despite
their own fiscal burdens, collect the lion's
share of charitable donations in the U.S. Fi-
nally, Pierce emphasizes the development
of new leaders within congregations, iden-
tifying potential leaders and providing ex-
tensive training.
Activism That Makes Sense has a lot to
offer, along with its share of frustrations.
Pierce neglects a sensitive issue: the role of
the clergy. What limitations do clergy's pre-
existing leadership place on the develop-
ment oflay leaders? And, despite a few quo-
tations from Jewish theologia:ts, it's an
overwhelmingly Christian book. Stylistical-
ly, the book displays the sort of obligatory
macho bluster that's characteristic of many
Alinsky organizing books. With the gruff
impatience of the "practical man," Pierce too
quickly disposes of symbolic protests, and
of whole issue areas (i.e. international in-
tervention, disarmament) as well as their
"romanticist" adherents. Activism is not the
evenhanded examination of different con-
gregational action alternatives that some lay
leaders might desire, but as a strong argu-
ment for a particular organizing approach,
it's a welcome addition to the short list of or-
ganizing guides written by organizers them-
selves. 0
Sue Reynolds received her organizing train-
ing at the NationaL Training and Informa-
tion Center, and is now the Associate
Director at the Association for Neighbor-
hood and Housing DeveLopment.
"Well, dear, I got the apartment."
29
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
c::7 FORUM ON STRATEGIES FOR
ENVIRONMENTAL ACfION: A forum
entitled "Beyond the 1984 Election: New
Strategies for the Environmental Move-
ment," will be held on Wednesday, October
17 at 5:30 PM to 8 PM at Hunter College
of Health Services at First Avenue. Speak-
ers are: Barry Commoner, Louis Gibbs,
Tony Mazzochi, Daryl Alexander and Nick
Freudenberg. For information, call (212)
481-5111.0
c::7 PARTY/FUNDRAISER FOR CITY
TENANTS AND LEGAL AID
WORKERS: Join the Union of City
Tenants, a citywide organization of tenants
of city-owned buildings and the Legal Ser-
vices Staff Association for a fundraising dis-
co on Saturday, Oct. 13th at 9 PM-3 AM at
District 65 United Auto Workers. 13 Astor
Place, Manhattan. Tickets are $7 in advance,
$9 at the door. Call (212) 947-0001 for
information. 0
c::7 DESIGN COMPETITION FOR
BRONX LOT: A triangular lot bounded by
three major access routes to the Pelham
Parkway area of the Bronx is the site of a
design competition being held by the Neigh-
borhood Initiatives Development Corpora-
tion. The group seeks designs from both
students and professionals to help transform
a littered parkway island into a welcoming
landmilrk. Two categories of prizes will be
given: first prize for professionals is $2,000,
second prize, $1,200 and third is $650. Stu-
dents can win $700, $350 and $200. For in-
formation and to get the $5 program kit, call
Wendy Fleischer at NIDC, (212) 231-9800.
Registration deadline is November 24th. 0
c::7 NATIVE AMERICAN CALENDAR:
One of the most attractive calendars for 1985
is already out and available. Produced by
Akwesasne Notes, a 16-year-oldjournal of
Native and Natural People, the calendar
contains 12 full-color plates by four promi-
nent Native artists. Calendars are $8.50
each. Make checks payable to: Akwesasne
Notes Calendar 1985, Mohawk Nation, via
Rooseveltown, NY 13683. 0
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
CLINTON'S STORY: "Hell's Kitch-
Chronicle," an award-winning film by
Maren and Reed Erskine will have two
screenings in New York City this month.
The Erskines, Clinton residents, have creat-
ed and produced a film about an aging New
York City neighborhood fighting to save it-
selffrom becoming "disposable as soaring
land values squeeze out longtime residents."
The 6O-minute film will be shown at the Wo-
men's Film Festival at Barnard College on
Friday, Oct. 12th at 7:30 and at the Muse-
um of Modern Art on Tuesday, Oct. 30th
3 PM and 6 PM.O
c::::7' BENEFIT FOR HOMELESS FAMI-
LIES: This fall you can see an exciting new
play while helping to bring care and com-
passion into the lives of needy women and
children. Michael Weller's epic of the gold-
rush, "The Ballad of Soapy Smith," will be
presented at the New York Public Theatre
to benefit the new Bronx Women in Need
(WIN) shelter in the Bronx. WIN offers a
healing environment and provides support
services for these families, many of whom
are victims of domestic violence or have
been burned out of their apartments. Call
Dianne LaFaver or Karima Temple at Alli-
ance for performance date and ticket price
(212) 226-7802 or to offer assistance in or-
ganizing this event. 0
30
c::::7' ROCKAWAYS WORKSHOP ON
INTER-RACIA.L COALITIONS: On
Tuesday, October 16, the Neighborhood
Stabilization Program of the city Human
Rights Commission, along with the Rock-
aways Interracial Council and the Panel of
Americans will sponsor a workshop enti-
tled, "Can We Talk? Quality of Life Issues
Affecting our Community." It will be held
at the lOlst precinct, 16-12 Mott Ave., Far
Rockaway, from 7:30-10 PM. The focus will
be on building multi-ethnic coalitions on the
block and neighborhood level. A guest
panel of community activists will explore
the issues and trainers from the Panel of
Americans will lead a variety of creative ap-
proaches to the problem. Contact Katie
Bracken at (718) 886-6162.0
c::::7' NEW CITY BOOKLET ON
TENANTS ON PUBLIC ASSISfANCE:
A new booklet describing the rights of
tenants on public assistance as well as spe-
cial programs for landlords with such
tenants has: been released by the City'S Hu-
man Resources Administration and the
Department of Housing Preservation and
Development.
The publication, ' ~ Guide to New Pub-
lic Assistance Rents and Shelter Allowance
Procedures," is aimed at helping tenants and
owners deal with the federal, state and city
laws and regulations governing public as-
sistance payments.
The guide contains information on: cur-
rent public assistance shelter allowances;
various forms of restricted rent payments;
requirements for HRA notification of rent
restriction; the rights of tenants to voluntar-
ily consent to restricted rent payments; and
the Emergency Assistance Rehousing Pro-
gram (EARP) for securing permanent hous-
ing for families temporarily quartered in
hotels and shelters. EARP provides special
payments to landlords agreeing to renovate
apartments for families in emergency
housing.
Available free at income maintenance
centers as well as HPD's Borough Code En-
forcement Offices and Neighborhood
Preservation offices. HRA's Landlord Liai-
son unit can be reached at (212) 553-5424,
HPD's Owner Assistance unit at 566-2394,
. and the Community Action/Tenant As-
sistance Unit at 566-6222.0
r
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Neighborhood Housing Services of East Flatbush,
Inc., a not-for-profit neighborhood rehabilitation pro-
gram, seeks an Executive Director. Job requirements
include:
Experience in community organizing, organiza-
tional management, staff supervision.
Demonstrated competence in planning and
budgeting.
Knowledge of 1-4 family housing rehabilitation
and loan packaging.
College preferred. Closing date: October 21, 1984.
Salary: $24,000-$32,000 depending upon qualifica-
tions. Send resume to: Chairman, NHS of East Flat-
bush, 3009 Glenwood Road, Brooklyn, New York
11210.
EquaI'Opportunity Employer
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COMMUNITY ORGANIZER-BA plus 1 yr. experi-
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and typing skills required. To organize tenant associ-
ations dealing with neighborhood-preservation,
repairs displacement. Some :.light work. $12,000 to
$14,000. Excellent fringe . .
PRESERVATION COORDINATOR - BA, back-
ground in urban planning. Good typing skills re-
quired. Coordinate planning, research for housing
rehabilitation. Assist with writing funding proposals,
loan packaging. Some organizing. $12,000 to
$14,000. Excellent fringe.
Lower East Side Resident preferred. Send resumes for
eitherposition to: CooperSquare Committee, Attn.:
House Personnel, 61 E 4th St., N.Y. 10003.
TENANT ORGANIZER .
Housing/organizing experience pre-
ferred. Must have strong writing, re-
search, and admini,strative skills. FulI-
time, flexible hours required. Salary
negotiable. Send resumes: Mount
Vernon United Tenants, Box 2107, Mt.
Vernon, NY 10551. \.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTqR
Neighborhood based non-profit seeks
individual to manage commercial and community
revitalization, youth employment and housing pro-
grams. Ability to supervise small staff, competence
in program design and proposal writing and familiar-
ity with reporting requirelllents of govemmE\nt agen-
cies and foundations essential. Qualifications:
Bachelor's degree, 3 years relevant experience, good
writing, fiscal and administrative skills. Knowledge
of French a plus. Salary: Mid $20,000. Submit
resumes to: Mary Gallagher, FECDC, 559 East 43rd
Street, Brooklyn, NY 11203. Equal Opportunity
Employer.
Community Organizer. Renovation Supervisor. Weatherization Coordinator.
Urban Housing Specialist. Community Management Director. Policy Analyst.
Housing Paralegal. Business Manager. Housing Director. Loan Arranger. Project
Director. Construction Specialist. Activist. Accountant. Housing Attorney. Execu-
tive Secretary. Energy Specialist. Assistant Editor. Executive Director. Activist.
These are just some of the positions recently advertised in CITY LIMITS. The advertising choice of
housing professionals in government, non-profit organizations and industry. Call 239-8440 to place
your ad.
CITY LIMITS JOB ADVERTISING GETS RESULTS.
31
CITY LIMITS/October 1984
Special Oller lor lIewReaders
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"Every neighborhood activist in the country
ouht to read. this book."
Gale Cincotta, ChairperSon,
National Peoples Action
Displacement: How to Fight It was written by housing activists and experts Chester Hartman. Dennis Keat-
ing and Richard LeGates along with the LegalServices Anti-Displacement Project. Still the most thorough
exploration of the causes of displacement. the book contains a wealth of sources and details on how
tenants and homeowners across the country are resisting displacement pressures. Handsomely illustrated
and excellently written, it's a book you willfind yourself returning to constantly for reference and resources.
We Cover The
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