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October 1992

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City Limits
Volume XVII Number 8
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2/0CTOBER 1992/CITY UMITS
The Privatization Gremlin
L
ike a gremlin that looks cute but turns into a monster, privatization
is changing the way New York City works-often for the worse.
In a city with an often ineffectual bureaucracy and a tight budget,
the idea of" downsizing" government has obvious appeal, and may
sometimes be necessary.
But when budget officials and Wall Street bondholders push the city
into swift privatization schemes, who looks out for .the long-term stability
of the city, its neighborhoods and its residents?
Without close oversight, privatization can become the Frankenstein of
urban policy-making.
Consider water and sewer taxes, the slimy beast attacking low income
housing. Seven years ago the New York City Water Board was created to
take rate-setting out of the hands of elected city officials. We're paying the
price today, with a regressive new taxation system that hits hardest in
poor, densely populated communities.
The city has spent more than half a billion dollars repairing and then
selling city-owned buildings to nonprofit neighborhood groups and
tenants. But a study by City Limits shows that water and sewer taxes have
put one out of four of these buildings on the verge of fiscal collapse, and
they may return to city ownership.
Describing this outcome as counterproductive is' to err on the side of
politeness. Disastrous-even stupid-is probably more accurate.
Privatization isn't always an evil creature. The housing department's
Community Management Program uses nonprofit neighborhood groups
to renovate, manage and sometimes purchase city-owned buildings.
With extensive cooperation between the community group and the
tenants, this process can yield amazing results. But this program is being
phased out, and the first program to replace it ignores two decades of
hard-earned lessons in favor of a quick-fix approach promoted by cost-
cutters. It allows for-profit contractors to oversee renovation and tenant
selection, and leaves community groups to clean up afterwards.
These choices only make sense within the short-term framework of a
city government whose vision is blurred by budget constraints and a
desire for re-election. They make no sense whatsoever for the long-term
health of a city that desperately needs more stable, affordable housing.
Tame the beast! 0
Cover illustration by Eric Drooker.
SPECIAL REPORT
Introduction
Crisis and change in low income housing. 9
Drowning in Debt
One in four formerly city-owned buildings faces fiscal
crisis-mostly because of unpaid water and sewer
taxes. 10
The End of An Era
The Community Management Program is on the way
out. What lessons can be appliea to the future? 13
FEATURES
Electric Shock
Is the New York Power Authority robbing the city of
cheap power? 22
A Capital Primer
Budget bumblers take heart-a citizen's guide to the
capital budget. 26
DEPARTMENTS
Editorial
The Privatization Gremlin ....................................... 2
Briefs
Labor Protest ............. ...... ... .... .................................. 4
Parkhill Problems .... ...................................... .......... 4
7-A or Bust ............................................................... 5
Housing Cuts ............................................................ 5
Profile
The Sakhi Sisterhood ........ ...................................... 6
Vital Statistics
Overcrowded Masses ............................................. 20
Review
Black in Brooklyn .................................................. 30
Letters ........................................................................ 31
Job Ads .................... ...... ................... .......................... 35
Sakhi/Page 6
Special Report/Page 9
Electric/Page 22
CITY UMITS/OCTOBER 1992/3
LABOR PROTEST
More than 1 ,500 people
marched to Foley Square in
August to demand that workers
from the nearby Chinatown
community receive equal access
to on a construction site for
a federal courthouse and office
building.
'We found that out of 169
workers at the courthouse
project, only one was Chinese,"
says Peter Lin, an organizer
with the Chinese Construction
Association. "At the office
building, there were over 1 00
workers and none of them was
Chinese."
Chinatown labor organiza-
tions, business and community
leaders are accusing the federal
government of complicity in the
exclusion of Chinese workers
from jobs at the site.
The issue is not simply
whether or not Asians, African-
Americans and Latinos are
being employed. By all ac-
counts, they are. BPT Properties,
the courthouse developer,
claims that its workforce is 52
percent women and racial and
ethnic minorities.
But members of the newly-
formed Campaign for Economic
Justice say the workforce at
Foley Square should include
community residents. They've
gathered 8,000 signatures for a
petition calling for 60 percent of
the construction jobs for pe:ople
of color, with 30 percent of
those going to Chinatown
workers, as well as input from
community leaders in decision-
making.
Federal officials say this isn't
necessary. "The different minor-
ity groups are looking for seta-
sides for each group. Federal
law doesn't allow for that,"
explains Harold Busch from the
Office of Federal Contract
Compliance. "And there are no
residency laws to provide for
hiring from the communities
housing the projects."
Virgo Lee of the Mayor's
Office on Asian-American
Affoirs adds, ''With the high
unemployment in the construc-
tion industry, the building trades
unions can meet minority hiring
gools from within their own
ranks, even though their own
minority composition is low.
There's no incentive for them to
4/0CTOBER 1992/CITY UMITS
bring in workers from the
community."
But this doesn't mollify
Chinatown leaders. "The
question is not what is legal, but
What is fair," says Stanley Mark,
an attorney from the Asian
American legal Defense Fund
who is coordinating the eco-
nomic justice campaign. "In this
case, the law is inadequate and
can't provide for a fair share of
jobs fOr our community."
The Campaign for Economic
Justice includes members of
other fair-hiring groups, includ-
ing Harlem Fightback and the
Chinese Staff and Workers
Association.
Although irs far from com-
plete, the Foley Square project
already has a considerable
history of controversy. Federal
legislation in 1989 allowed the
construction job to go ahead
without passing through New
York City's Unirorm Land Use
Review Procedure, which
includes community residents in
decision-making. Because of
this, Chinatown leaders pro-
tested that they lost an important
opportunity to have input in the
project.
More African-
American activists and politi-
cians became involved in the
site after they discovered that
one of the buildings was being
constructed on top of an 1 8th
century African-American burial
ground. Changes are now
underway to ensure that the
burial ground is saved. 0 Barb
Fadden
PARKHILL PROBLEMS
Having fallen into a danger-
ous state of disrepair during
years of neglect, the federally-
subsidized Parkhill Apartments
complex on Staten Island finally
has a new owner. But necessary
repairs are still on hold until the
federal Department of Housing
and Urban Development (HUD)
approves the sale of the six-
building, 800-apartment project.
Residents of the complex have
been for years
about lea plumbing, dra
windows, roken fences,
plaster, and abondoned
CrumbIng Wall: Activist Joan Wheeler points to problems at the
Parkhill housing complex on Staten Island.
apartments that are strewn with
rubble and infested with Reas.
On July 27,without any notice
to tenants, gas lines were shut
off throughout the complex
because of extensive leaks. To
make matters worse, the meter
rooms were so full of debris and
insects that gas company
personnel refused to enter until
management did a two-day
clean up. Gas wasn't restored
until August 1 2.
"I've rought since 1980 to
straighten these buildings out,"
says Joan Wheeler, a tenant
leader. "It's been very discour-
aging." But she is hopeful that
the new owners--and a
rearganized tenant associa-
tion--{;an pull the place
together. "At least we have a
working relationship" with
management, she adds, which
wasn't the case in the past.
David Buchwalter, chief of
the loan Management Branch
at the federal Department of
Housing and Urban Develop-
ment (HUD) office in New York
City, says that the previous
management company, Higen
Associates, handled things
"inadequately." He adds that
the new owner, Unithree
Investment Corp., will soon
submit a plan detailing
how it plans to repair problems
identified by HUD inspectors.
But his agency has not yet
approved a ''Transfer of
Physical Assets" between the old
owners and Unithree, which
means no new federal money
will go to the complex for
several months.
In the meantime, tenants are
meeting with Unithree's
president, Arlington H. Fuller.
Since taking control of the
property in May, the corpora-
tion has painted and repaired
some walls, replaced mailboxes,
mowed lawns and removed
abondoned cars. Tenant leaders
note that the elevators are more
reliable now and that bosic
maintenance work is underway.
Fuller says Unithree has invested
$500,000 in the property. But
he says he needs $2.5 million in
government money to do major
repairs on the roaf, windows
and elevators, and predicts he
won't have the cash for at least
a year.
Wheeler worries that if
problems aren't fixed soon,
some tenants-many of them on
public assistance and fixed
incomes-may have to be
moved before repairs can be
done. Fuller disa9rees.
For now, Parkhill tenants are
looking across the street at
another Unithree property, St.
George plaza. They are a lime
wary of what they see. The
corporation has managed St.
George for a full year longer
than Parkhill, Wheeler says,
and "it's been slow over there,
too." This month, tenants of the
two developments plan to elect
a united tenant association
leadership to work with the
landlord and HUD. 0 Brian
Hanson-H .... lng
7A OR BUST
An important legal dispute is
set to decide whether or not
j
'udges may use an anti-slumlord
aw to seize control of city-
owned apartment buildings.
The case is a bottle of wills
between the city's Department
of Housing Preservation and
Development (HPD), which is
struggling to manage 3,200
occupied buildings, and some
housing court judges, who
describe HPD as an incompetent
manager.
The case centers around
three South Bronx buildings on
Creston Avenue and Elsmere
place that were the subject of
housing court suits long before
the city took control of the
properties. In 1989 and 1990,
when the buildings were pri-
vatelyowned, judges found the
landlords liable for dangerous
neglect. Housing court placed
the buildings in the care of
Dennis Henriques, a court-
appainted manager known as a
"7-A administrator".
By tenants' accounts,
Henriques completely turned the
buildings around. He instolled
new boilers, locks and doors,
renovated the more dilapidated
units, and, most strikingly,
cleared the buildings ot crack
dealers by coordinating the
efforts of city authorities, tenant
organizations and his own
superintendents.
But in the summer of 1990,
the city took possession of the
buildings beCause the owners
had defaulted on taxes. As
dictated by city tax laws,
Henriques was dismissed and
HPD prepared to manage the
properties.
Many tenants were fearful
about having the city as their
landlord. "As soon as the city
takes over a building, the drugs
come in," soys tenant associa-
tion president Ann Carolyn
Nunez.
Refusing to accept city
management, the tenants
continued paying rent to
Henriques. And about two
months after the city acquired
their buildings, they sued to
have him reinstated as 7-A
administrator.
Housing court Judge Howard
T russel not only reappointed
Henriques, he also ordered
Prot8st Tenants from the Queensbridge housing projects
protested recently at Federal Plaza, demanding permiSSion for Nation
of Islam members to guard their apartments.
Henriques to with the
city to get the buildings into the
Tenant Interim Lease Program
(TIL), which would enable the
tenants to purchase their apart-
ments as a low-income coop-
erative and manage the build-
ings themselves. The city is
appealing both rulings.
An HPD spakesperson insists
that the tenants are not inter-
ested in self-management, and
therefore do not qualify for TIl.
But Henriques and his lawyer,
Michael Doyle, soy the city is
misrepresenting the tenants'
wishes.
If the case goes to appeal,
the lawyer representing the city,
Janet Zalean, soys she expects
to argue that the city was not
given a foir chance to manage
the properties. The 7-A statute
can be invoked if dangerous
conditions in a building persist
for five days; but in the past
'judges have generally used the
aw only in cases of persistent
neglect.
Only two city-owned build-
ings, both in Manhattan, have
ever been assigned 7-A admin-
istrators. The city appealed
these cases, but both were
settled out of court.
An HPD spokesperson
acknowledges that the depart-
ment needs all the help it can
get in managing its buildings,
but Zalean soys this case is a
matter of principle: HPD must
be given a fair chance to run its
own buildings.
The tenants aren't concerned
with such legal niceties. Says
Nunez: ''The city takes over, I
leave." 0 Matt Siege.
HOUSING CUTS
Advocates for the homeless
are decrying the city's decision
to reduce the number of New
York City Housing Authority
(NYCHA) ap<:!rtments set aside
for homeless families.
This summer the housing
authority's director, Solly
Hernandez-Pinero, gained
considerable attention when she
refused to accept homeless
families for empty apartments
unless the city agreed to fund
support services such as social
workers.
After negotiations with City
Hall, she agreed to accept
1,670 homeless families this
year, 355 less than originally
planned. Social workers will
now provide follow-up services
for the families for six months
after they move into their new
apartment.
Hernandez-Pinero's actions
followed years of protests
against "homeless dumping" by
housing authority tenants. "It is
not that we don't want homeless
families," says Gerri Lamb, the
president of the Castle Hill
Tenant Association. But, she
adds, ''They were promised a
multitude of support services
that they did not and do not
. "
receIve.
NYCHA officials and the
tenant leaders argue that a
higher percentage of theft, drug
abuse and other crimes are
happening in apartments where
formerly homeless families
live-but they have not yet
produced a study documenting
their claims.
The NYCHA protests
underscore an ongoin.s debate
about the character ot homeless
families. While some city
officials argue that all homeless
families require social services,
advocates tor the homeless soy
across-the-board generaliza-
tions are unfair and inaccurate.
"A lot of damage is being
done to the public's perception
of the homeless with these slurs.
They're being used as
goots," says Ted Haughton from
the Coalition for the Homeless.
"Since when did homeless
families have a monopoly on
these problems?"
"Cutting has already lead to
large numbers being left to
sleep in welfare offices and to
stay in hotels. The decision will
only exacerbate an already
horrendous decision," adds
Steve Banks, the director of the
Homeless Family Rights Project.
Marsha Martin, the director
of the Mayor's Office on
Homelessness and Housing,
notes that the city intends to
make up for the reduction in
homeless housing with the
support of the private sector.
She mentions increases in the
Emergency Assistance
Rehousing Program (EARP),
which SUbsidizes_private
landlords who otter apartments
to homeless families. However,
the increase in the EARP
program was announced
months ago (See City Limits,
June-July 1992) and does not
make up for the lost housing
authority apartments.
Martin also mentions that
federal Section Eight housing
vouchers may help plug the
gap. But Elizabeth Lynch, an
advocate for homeless families
at the Citizens Advice Bureau in
the Bronx, counters that Section
Eight vouchers rarely provide
enough money to substantially
offset the cost of a vacant
apartment. 0 Lynne Johnson
CITY UMITS/OCTOBER 1992/5
By Sasha Nyary
The Sakhi Sisterhood
A group of South Asian women provides counseling
and support for victims of domestic violence.
K
itty Chachra was in an Indian
grocery store two years ago
when she happened to notice
an article in a copy of India
Abroad, one of the city's many news-
papers for the South Asian commu-
nity. "It was just a coincidence," she
says, as she doesn't usu-
ally read Indian papers. "It
just caught my eye."
The article happened to
be about Sakhi for South
Asian Women, a grassroots
advocacy group for women
in the Indian, Bangladeshi,
Nepali, Pakistani and Sri
Lankan communities in
New York. Intrigued,
Chachra started attending
meetings. Today she vol-
unteers 20 to 25 hours a
week for the group.
"With the passion that I
put into it, it is like another
job," Chachra says. "But
it's very important to me
that women in our com-
munity have a voice within
that community."
Focus on
Domestic Violence
from the Asian Women's Center, the
Victims Services Agency andManavi,
a similar group in New Jersey. The
founding members, most of them
young professionals, including a
lawyer, a computer scientist and a
film editor, planned to spend an entire
stand on street corners in Jackson
Heights and Flushing in Queens,
Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn and
Little India in Manhattan, handing
out fliers written in English, Hindi,
Urdu, Gujarati and Punjabi.
"It's amazing how Sakhi came at a
time when the need was so great,"
says Madhulika Khandelwal, a
historian at the Queens College Asian-
American Center. "Suddenly, rapidly,
it grew into prominence."
The tri-state area contains the
country's largest concentration of
South Asians, with a little more than
100,000 living in New York
City, according to the 1990
census. South Asians
started coming to this coun-
try in large numbers when
the immigration laws
loosened in 1965, so the
immigrant population is
relatively young. First gen-
eration Indian-Americans,
for instance, are in their
mid-20s now and Khan-
delwal says this often leads
to "an underlying inse-
curity" about cultural iden-
tity.
"In the last 25 years there
has been an increased effort
to maintain what people see
as Indian tradition," she
adds. "There is a very con-
scious struggle to maintain
traditions in food, dress and
marriage. Marriage is the
most important institution
through which tradition is
carried out."
"A voice within the
community" says a lot
about the purpose of the
nonprofit organization that
was formed in 1989. The
members of Sakhi-the
name means "woman
friend" in Hindi and other
South Asian languages-
focus on the issue of
domestic yiolence within
the South Asian commu-
nity.
CommunIty Voices: Anannya Bhattacharjee (left) and Kitty Chachra from
Sakhi.
"Completely Isolated"
With a cultural empha-
sis on marriage, dealing
with an abusive husband
z can be especially difficult
~ for South Asian women.
8 And this difficulty is com-
Q pounded by the vulnerabil-
(!) ity and fears of newcomers
in a strange country. "Think
"Our aim was to create
an agenda for women in the fast grow-
ing South Asian community in the
United States," says Anannya
Bhattacharjee, Sakhi's only paid
staffer. "We didn't want to become an
academic group that simply talks
about things. We knew that domestic
violence was a problem, and we
wanted a South Asian women's.orga-
nization. The two came together."
Sakhi was created with support
a/OCTOBER 1992/CITY UMITS
supuner educating themselves about
the issues. But to their surprise, the
calls came before they were even open.
The quick response says something
about the power of word of mouth in
the South Asian community. Sakhi
does not advertise, and they are not
listed in the phone book. Mention
gets out through community news-
papers and Indian radio and television
programs. And Sakhi members also
of a woman who, some guy
comes here, goes back, marries a
woman in an arranged marriage, and
brings the woman here," explains
Radhika Balakrishnan of the Ford
Foundation, who has counseled South
Asian women. "She's all alone, com-
pletely isolated."
But that's not all. Many South Asian
women, including those being abused
by their husbands, are here on their
husband's green cards. In the past
couple of years, however, immigra-
tion laws have become more flexible
and it is easier for battered women to
remain eligible for permanent resi-
dency status.
Providing free and confidential
legal advice in delicate situations like
this is just a part of what Sakhi does.
The organization also has a core of
women who volunteer as case work-
ers, guiding South Asian women
through New York's overwhelming
maze of safe houses, shelters,
apartments and social services.
One of the women who calls on
Sakhi for help is Mira (not her real
name), an Asian Indian woman raised
outside New York City. Years after
she left her husband, who beat her
regularly-even when she was
pregnant-she read about Sakhi and
decided to seek support.
"Women who've been through
these kinds of situations deal with
them for years and years and years,"
Mira says, noting that Sakhi offered
her contacts for emotional counseling
as well, as advice about practical
matters like job-seeking. Perhaps just
as importantly, she adds, "They
opened me up to a community of
people you feel like you have some-
thing in common with."
Educating the Community
Besides the one paid staffmember,
Sakhi is run by about 30 South Asian
women, all volunteers. The organ-
ization's annual budget this year is
just$85,000, funded in part with grants
from organizations like the Ms.
Foundation and the New York
Foundation. The group plans to hire a
second employee this fall.
But Sakhi's goals go further.
Members of the group want to extend
their outreach beyond helping women
leave abusive situations; they want to
educate their community about
violence against women so that it will
take responsibility for that violence.
"We want not only to prevent
violence against women, but to
challenge the system that allows that
allows this to continue," says
Geetanjali Misra, a board member of
Sakhi. "Any violence," she empha-
sizes. "We are trying to cause the
rippling effect." 0
Sakhi for South Asian Women can be
reached at 212-866-6591.
Sasha Nyary is a reporter at LIFE
magazine.
Social Change
Tool for the
'90s
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a/OCTOBER 1992/CrrY UMITS
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1
489,,"di4-);i'-------------
Crisis and Change
In Low-Income Housing
A
fter more than two decades of struggle and success, community-based groups in
New York City's poor neighborhoods are at a crossroads.
These groups are doing the undoable: turning crack dens into low income
housing, transforming junk-strewn lots into community gardens, developing
education, job training and youth programs. Even more importantly, they're a key
resource for involvement and action by disenfranchised community residents.
Side by side with the incredible gains of the past 20 years are harsh economic truths:
poverty is increasing and one out of every four households spends more than half its income
on rent, according to data from the new Housing and Vacancy Survey. Overcrowding in
apartments has increased 144 percent since 1978.
This situation has the potential to overwhelm and undermine attempts at change. But
it's far from the only threat to the survival, growth and relevance of community-based
organizations.
A study by City Limits shows that right this minute one out of four community-
controlled apartment buildings is on the verge of fiscal collapse, mostly because of new
water and sewer tax increases imposed by the city. Abandoned by landlords, then neglected
by the city, most of these buildings are now owned by neighborhoods groups and tenants.
They're a precious source oflow income housing and it's plain craziness to allow regressive
city-created tax hikes to force them back into city ownership.
Another element threatening community-based groups is more insidious. A brand-
new housing program known as Neighborhood Ownership Works has been touted as the
newest way to help community groups improve their neighborhoods. Unfortunately, there's
a huge gap between rhetoric and reality; so far, the program relegates community groups to
little more than a standard landlord role. It seems like the final step in a long, slow
institutionalization process that has sapped the last drop of activism from many of these
organizations. If the city isn't careful, it could turn the local groups into the very creatures
they were created to oppose: local slumlords.
Times of crisis are also times of opportunity. It's not too late for the city and community
groups to return to a participatory process that ensures stable, community-controlled low
income housing that remains affordable. In the long run, the entire city benefits.
CITY UMITSIOCTOBER 1992/9
,,>jiU'IIilil"ill By Andrew White, Lisa Glazer and Jonathan A. Lewis
Drowning in Debt
O
ne out of every four formerly city-owned buildings sold to
community groups and low income, tenant-run coopera-
tives is on the brink of fiscal collapse, and could be
returned to city ownership in the near future, a study by
City Limits reveals.
The properties, which are a major bulwark of the city's afford-
able housing strategy, are so deeply in debt and owe so much in
back taxes that the city has placed them on a list of properties up
for reclamation. The study found that the delinquency rate
among these buildings is almost four times as high as that of
privately-owned apartment buildings and cooperatives citywide.
"The city is burying its own afford-
able housing," says Andrew Reicher
of the Urban Homesteading Assistance
Board, which gives technical
assistance to many low income coop-
eratives. He and other advocates blame
enormous, unexpected increases in
city water and sewer taxes for com-
pletely overwhelming the budgets of
many low-income buildings.
Water and sewer taxes account for
two-thirds of the average building'S
debt, according to the study, which
examined the City Collector's records
of a random sample of the 977 build-
ings that were sold out of city owner-
ship by the Department of Housing
Preservation and Development (HPD).
City officials are not oblivious to
the problem. "We are very concerned,"
says Joan Wallstein, assistant commis-
sioner for alternative management at
HPD. "We've put hundreds of millions
of dollars into renovating buildings,
developing the capacity of nonprofit
organizations, restructuring rents,
getting subsidies for tenants so the
operating budgets of these buildings
ensure that they're viable. We very
much would like to avoid having these
buildings come back to city owner-
ship."
"We are very aware that [increases
in water and sewer charges] have had
very egregious consequences," adds
Deputy Mayor Barbara Fife, who heads
an inter-agency task force that has
begun studying ways to ease the im-
pact of rising charges on low-income
housing. But she says an administra-
tion plan to deal with the problem is
still months away.
The city's water tax rate has
increased 182 percent since 1984, and
30 percent in just two years, because
the city needs extra money for
expanded sewage treatment, sludge
disposal and a new water tunnel. The
city is also installing water meters in
apartment buildings as a way to
encourage conservation, but the
meters are having a disproportionate
impact on low income buildings,
where water taxes have jumped as
much as 360 percent after meters were
installed (see City Limits, May 1992).
Officials and advocates agree that
metering hits hardest in low income
buildings because they tend to have
older, leakier plumbing systems as
well as more people crowded into
each apartment, with more elderly,
disabled, and unemployed residents
who stay home all day-flushing toi-
lets, running faucets, washing clothes.
One In four at risk Tax delinquency rate
four Ii .... hiIh
One fourth of all community-controlled coopera-
tives and rentals are in rem, meaning they could
return to city ownerShip. An additional 35 percent
are in debt to the city.
Source: NYC Dept. of Finance
10jOCTOBER 1992/CITY UMITS
t
I
c ,
.............
.........
More than 60 percent of fonnerly city-owned
buildings are behind in tax payments.
Source: NYC Dept. of Finance
.-
"It's just a mess," says Carol
Lamberg of the Settlement Housing
Fund, which owns and manages sev-
erallow-income buildings. "We used
to figure about $150 a unit per year
[for water taxes]. Now there's a range
of $300 to $1,200 per year. It's
craziness." And Bill Frey of the Enter-
prise Foundation, another source of
financing for low income buildings,
says the water bills for some of his
projects have turned out to be 500
percent higher than budgeted.
Ripple Effect
Experts across the city say the cri-
sis could well have a ripple effect
throughout low income housing. "Pri-
vate, public and nonprofit groups are
starting to come together and [they're 1
realizing that this is going to be a
major nightmare," says Kathleen Parisi
of Neighborhood Housing Services, a
national nonprofit that provides fi-
nancing for small homeowners.
She says that building owners from
Bedford-Stuyvesant, Harlem and the
Lower East Side who come to her
group for help can't cope. "I work
with these clients daily," she says.
"They're barely making it now. If you
double their costs it puts them right
under."
"We are quite concerned about the
impact of these price hikes on the
affordable housing stock," adds John
McCarthy, an executive vice presi-
dent at the Community Preservation
Corporation, a nonprofit lender
backed by many of the city's largest
banks. "Our main concern is, will rent
cover operating expenses? The dra-
matic increase in water and sewer
taxes has made that question harder
c..
"The city is
burying its own
affordable
housing."
to answer." McCarthy explains that
this growing uncertainty is discour-
aging lending institutions from mak-
ing loans for low-income housing.
The buildings in the City Limits
study all participated in programs
administered by HPD during the
1980s. In the cooperatives, the city
partially renovated the properties and
organized tenants into associations,
which went on to buy the buildings
out of city ownership for a nominal
price. If a shareholder moves out, he
or she cannot profit from the sale of
their stake in the property; instead,
shares are transferred to a new tenant.
Maintenance fees in the buildings are
supposed to remain very low-just
enough to cover costs-so that the
homes remain permanent! y affordable
to people in the lowest income brack-
ets.
Apartment buildings owned by
community organizations and, in
some cases, private landlords that par-
ticipated in the city's alternative man-
agement programs, were also pur-
chased for a minimal fee and are de-
signed to remain as permanently af-
fordable housing.
But in many cases the budgets
worked out by the city housing de-
partment at the time the buildings
were sold have proven inadequate.
Tenants bought a 24-unit Brooklyn
building in December, 1985, and bud-
geted $5,750 for annual water and
sewer taxes based on a city estimate.
But in 1991, the water bill came to
$12,308.
Watching Things Go
An oasis of affordable, tenant-
owned housing stands at 1187 Clay
Avenue in the Morrisania section of
The biggest problem is
water and sewer debt
Low-income co-ops' costs rise
faster than inflation
Two-thirds of the average building's debt of
$16,858 is water and sewer taxes.
Source: NYC Dept. of Rnance
UHAB's co-op index shows the cost of running a
low-income co-op increased faster than inflation,
primarily because of increases in taxes and water
and sewer charges.
Source: UrlJan Homesteading Ass/stance Board. US Bureau of Labor StatistiCS
CITY UMITS/OCTOBER 1992/11
the Bronx, on a wide boulevard of
beat-up six-story tenements. But the
building has hit hard times. Monthly
maintenance fees in the 12-unit coop-
erative are now $300 for a four-room
apartment, and a rental on the ground
floor is bringing in $410 a month. Yet
the fees and rents are nowhere near
high enough to cover the $24,614 debt
the building owes to the city-$15,816
of it in water and sewer taxes. As a
result, the building has had to drop its
insurance, put off paying $2,500 in
bills owed to a local hardware store,
Con Edison and a roofing contractor,
and delay necessary repairs.
"We've put our hearts into making
it work," says Marion Marti, the secre-
tary of the cooperative. "Now the city
can come in and say our work doesn't
amount to anything. The idea of it
makes my toes weak." The residents
include elderly and disabled men on
fixed incomes, a kitchen porter, a self-
employed day care worker and. an
unemployed nurse's aide. There are
several children and doubled-ur fami-
lies in the building. Many 0 them
would have trouble remaining in the
community if fees continue to soar.
Even though they live in a troubled,
working-class district with drug deal-
ers and shootings, rents in neighbor-
ing buildings run as high as $800 for a
large apartment, according to residents
on the street.
Jon Lukomnik of the city's Depart-
ment of Finance says that "the vast
majority" of the buildings in the study,
including 1187 Clay Avenue, can
avoid being taken by the city if they
set up a debt payment agreement with
his agency. Marti says her group al-
ready tried that, and couldn't keep up
with the payments. Now, she and her
neighbors fear they may soon have a
new landlord named the City of New
York. "Little by little we're watching
things go," Marti says. "All the plans
we made simply went down the
drain."
Deputy Mayor Fife says she is not
sure whether anything can be done
immediately to prevent buildings like
1187 Clay from being repossessed
while a citywide mitigation plan is
still on the drawing board. "I would
have to talk to HPD to see if they can
try to hold on," she says. Lukomnik
says the same thing. But an HPD
spokesperson bounces City Limits
back to Fife's inter-agency task force.
Several Thousand Families
The City Limits study analyzed a
12/0CTOBER 1992/CITY UMITS
random sample of 109 buildings out
of the 977 that have been sold out of
the city housing department's Division
of Alternative Management Programs.
Of the 109, the Department of Finance
has listed 27 as in rem, meaning they
are likely to be turned over to city
ownership if their debt is more than
one year old and they have not worked
"All the plans
we made simply
went down
the drain."
out a payment agreement. Extrapolat-
ing the results, the study concludes
that between 162 and 321 of the build-
ings-which are home to several thou-
sand families-are at risk of returning
to city ownership.
The study also found that a total of
60 percent of the buildings were in
arrears on their tax payments to the
city, almost four times the 16 percent
delinquency rate for all apartment
buildings, cooperatives and condo-
miniums reported by the Department
of Finance for fiscal year 1991. In
addition, the study found that
buildings in the Bronx tend to be in far
worse debt than those in Brooklyn or
Manhattan.
In response to the crisis, a number
of community-based groups have
begun organizing efforts to change
city policy on taxes and water charges.
Staffers at the Urban Homestead-
ing Assistance Board have joined with
low income cooperative shareholders
in a "Tax Justice Campaign", holding
meetings with officials, politicians and
advocates around the city.
The New York Housing Confer-
ence, chaired by Clara Fox of the Settle-
ment Housing Fund and Rev. Don
Sakano from Catholic Charities, has
written to regulators and elected
officials to explain the crisis and push
for a resolution.
The Northwest Bronx Commu-
nity and Clergy Coalition is organiz-
ing low income cooperatives, small
homeowners and community groups
to fight future rate increases at the city
Water Board, which sets rates and
devises tax guidelines. They held a
protest at City Hall, extracted promises
of relief from Fife and other officials,
and are planning meetings with City
Council members.
Fife, who serves on the Water Board,
says she is meeting with banks and
others in the private sector to work
out a plan for easing the burden of
water charges on low income
buildings. She does not outline any
detailed proposals, however. Some
possibilities, she says, include
subsidizing the cost of installing low-
flow toilets and shower heads in the
buildings to cut water use, and altering
the formula by which water charges
are distributed.
The Rent Stabilization Association,
which represents private landlords,
is demanding that the city alter
regulations so that landlords can
charge tenants directly for water use
in addition to rent. But tenant
advocates point out that old, leaking
plumbing systems are one of the most
common problems in private, low
income buildings; they say renters
should not be asked to pay for their
landlord's failure to do necessary
repairs. They also say that the extra
charge could push thousands of poor
households who are already spend-
ing more than half their income on
rent into homelessness.
Some community groups are pro-
posing actions the city could take to
ease the pressure on low income hous-
ing and soften the tax burden on low
income cooperatives. Jim Buckley of
University Neighborhood Houses in
the Bronx recently proposed a $200
per-apartment cap on water and sewer
taxes for low income, community-
owned housing. Others propose a
lower water tax rate scale for low
income buildings, so that incentives
to conserve remain in place but heavy
usage will not bust the buildings'
budgets. Still others call for across-
the-board tax abatements for the
former city-owned buildings.
One point of agreement is the need
for quick action. "No one will argue
with the notion that water needs to be
conserved," says Marc Jahr of the Lo-
cal Initiatives Support Corporation
(LISC), which helps finance low-in-
come housing development. "But the
question is, how equitable is that pro-
cess? Who pays the price?" 0
---------------I1Qi9h"di4);il.r-------------
Miledis Arias (farthest left) and her neighbors in their low income cooperative at 658 Grand Street in Williamsburg.
The End of an Era
After 19 years, a city program promoting community-based management of low
income housing is being killed. What lessons can be carried to the future?
BY ERIKA MALLIN AND LISA GLAZER
L
ike the dusky pink-tinted glasses she wears, Olivia
Jones' newly-renovated apartment in the
Brownsville section of Brooklyn is decorated in
soft, pastel colors and filled with overstuffed
couches and starched curtains. Smoothing one
hand over the newly-painted wall of her kitchen, she says,
"In this building, we try to make a difference. You can see
the hallways are quiet and if we hear something we stick
our heads out."
Jones is obviously pleased with the results of the city's
Community Management Program (CMP), which funded
the total renovation of her 23-unit limestone building by
a local community group, the Oceanhill Brownsville
Tenants Association. After watching her building milked
for profit and abandoned by a landlord, then neglected by
the city, she says that the community group's involvement
helps her feel "a little closer to what goes on."
But not quite close enough. After lauding the overall
improvements in her building, Jones says the Oceanhill
Brownsville Tenants Association is slow to make routine
repairs and sometimes withholds important information
from the tenants. In her opinion, many tenants have
become too dependent on the community organization-
like a child leaning on its mother-which she feels is one
reason the tenants turned down the opportunity to buy
and manage the building on their own.
"That's all true," responds Abdur Rahman Farrahkan,
the executive director from the Oceanhill Brownsville
Tenants Association. "The communication does need to
be better, but it's not always the fault of Oceanhill
Brownsville. Sometimes we call a meeting and only two or
three people come. Also, there are many times when
tenants want to be an equal partner in what we do, but we
have the legal responsibility and sometimes we make
arbitrary and capricious decisions. It's nota perfect world."
Rabble-Rousers to Landlords
The ambivalent feelings expressed by Jones and
Farrahkan are repeated by many housing advocates and
tenants familiar with the 19-year-old Community Man-
CITY UMITS/OCfOBER 1992/13
agement Program, which is now being phased out by the
city's housing department. The ambivalence is largely
because CMP, more than any other city effort, has changed
neighborhood groups from local rabble-rousers into
construction supervisors, developers, property managers
and even landlords. It's an evolution that's led to very
mixed results.
Community leaders and residents alike agree that the
program has achieved what many considered impossible:
turning around some of the most decrepit, drug-infested
buildings in the city and forming strong tenant associations
that have sometimes gone on to purchase and manage
their own buildings.
But there are also serious criticisms, including instances
of bad management, slow repairs that are sometimes
poorly done, and the disillusionment and tension that can
emerge when tenants decide not to buy their building and
the community group becomes the owner, with the
potential of either being a benevolent landlord-or a local
slumlord.
But now the city has decided to phase out the Community
Management Program in favor of the new Neighborhood
Ownership Works (NOW) initiative. While CMP relies
primarily on nonprofit neighborhood groups, the first
NOW program will use for-profit contractors to restore
buildings and then sell the property to community-based
nonprofit groups (see Sidebar, page 18).
Why is the city cutting off funding for CMP after 1994
and establishing a
new program? "We're
just trying to find
ways to treat more
buildings, to get more
buildings out of the
system," says Joan
Wallstein, an assis-
tant commissioner at
the housing depart-
ment. "Right now
groups in CMP are
renovating two to
three buildings a year.
Even if we could
double that to six
buildings a year, we
would not be able to
produce as much as
we need."
to find a way to reclaim tumble-down buildings that had
been abandoned by their landlords-and the Community
Management Program was born. Relying on the growing
strength and commitment of nonprofit neighborhood
groups, CMP has expanded enormously in the past two
decades, from an early annual budget of about $6 million
to a peak of $36 million in fiscal year 1992. From the South
Bronx to Harlem to Central Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan,
there are about 30 groups taking part in the program this
year.
In theory, the Community Management Program is
relatively straightforward. The city provides funding for
the renovation ofrun-down, abandoned buildings, a com-
munity group oversees the renovation, and once the build-
ing is done the tenants are meant to become the owners,
assuming responsibility for taxes and maintenance. If the
tenants don't become the owners, then the community
group takes over from the city and becomes the landlord.
In reality, this process has proven complicated, time-
consuming and costly. The city has spent more than $321
million on the program and sold just 228 buildings with
4,286 apartments-132 buildings were bought by the
tenants and 96 were purchased by community groups.
Another 131 buildings are still in the process of being
renovated.
The "hard" construction costs for the CMP program are
estimated as $35,000 to $55,000 per unit, but when "soft"
costs such as tenant organizing are added, the per unit cost
can climb to between
$60,000 and $75,000
per unit. This com-
pares poorly with the
Tenant Interim Lease
program, which relies
solely on tenants to
oversee rehab in their
buildings, and the
Private Ownership
Management pro-
gram, which brought
in for-profit contrac-
tors to renovate and
eventually purchase
buildings. Construc-
tion costs in those
programs are esti-
G mated as between
ca $20,000 and $30,000,
~ according to city
~ officials.
So far, many hous-
ing advocates are ex-
pressing dismay that
the Community Man-
agement Program is
being replaced. To
_-:-=-____ ----'''----"--'ca Despite these bleak
Mixed Feelinp: Olivia Jones questions whether her neighbors have become too statistics, CMP sup-
dependent on the Oceanhill Brownsville Tenants Association.
their minds, the new program ignores some of the key
lessons learned from CMP: the harsh fiscal realities of
doing business as a city contractor and landlord in seriously
troubled buildings, and the tenant organizing ground-
work that's necessary throughout the rehabilitation process
to create community-controlled, low income housing that
withstands the test of time.
Reclaiming Abandoned Buildings
Back in the early 1970s, housing department officials
negotiated with fledgling community groups in poor areas
14jOCTOBER 1992jCITY UMITS
porters say it's impos-
sible to judge the
program by the bottom line and misleading to compare it
to other programs because CMP ends up with some of the
city's most physically and socially run-down buildings.
"CMP buildings were in the toughest neighborhoods,
needed the most repairs, and usually had some pivotal
place in the community," says Harold DeRienzo, the
director of the Consumer-Farmer Foundation, which
supports low income housing.
Because many of the CMP buildings are in such terrible
shape, they require almost complete rehabilitation and
sometimes the tenants have to remain in the building,
swapping apartments in a
process known as
checkerboarding. This re-
quires intense diplomacy
and close cooperation and
trust between the commu-
nity group, the contractors
and the tenants, which also
explains some of the costs in
time and money.
"In one of our buildings
we had to rehab half the
building because the apart-
ments were being used as
shooting galleries and the
other half of the tenants were
scared to walk out," says
Mark Alexander from Hope
Community, Inc. in East
Harlem. He says the renova-
tion process was slow and
expensive-but ultimately
worthwhile. Clearing out the
shooting gallery and fixing
up the building was a cata-
lyst for larger changes. "We
cleaned that block up," he
says.
brings out the documents-
in Spanish and English-
explaining the ownership
process. "They hold meet-
ings, give us papers, they
treat us right," she says. And
her personal stake in her
building has changed her at-
titude, she says. "When you
were renting, if things got
messed up in the building
you knew you could move
out. But now that it's our
property we have to take care
of it."
The staff at St. Nicholas
NPC also gives the program
strong support. "Community
management really helped
to re-fabricate neighbor-
hoods," says Virginia Ver
Ecke, who until recently
served as the group's direc-
tor of housing. In the
Williamsburg neighborhood
where St. Nick's operates,
CMP has helped restore al-
most all of the run-down
buildings in the area. Ver
Ecke says that CMP has also
~ helped build St. Nick's into
~ a strong, professional orga-
~ nization with a large staff
~ that's most! y from the neigh-
_ ..... --O' ......... o....::.:l""""" .... ~ borhood, including some
Nonetheless, there are
many instances where the
Community Management
Program's major investment
of capital has led to less than
laudable results. "I really
have mixed views about the
Community Management
Program," says Bernard
Alston, the project director
for the Union of City Ten-
On tile SInet: Tenants of buildings run by West Harlem Group who come from CMP build-
Assistance recently held a protest to highlight complaints about the ings.
community management organization. A number of housing ad-
ants. "There are a few groups that act like a responsible
landlord, but it's a mixed bag." How does he grade the
community groups in general on their landlording skills?
Barely passing-a C minus.
Ripple Effects-Positive and Negative
When the Community Management Program works
well, the benefits have a ripple effect from individual
tenants to their apartments, the block and the entire
neighborhood. But when the program backfires, the ripple
effect is equally powerful-and negative.
One building in Williamsburg is an example of how the
program can work. The first thing a visitor notices about
658 Grand Street, a small w a l k - ~ p on a bustling
Williamsburg thoroughfare, is the spiffy new renovation
job: the bright white tiles and fresh paint in the hallways
and the shiny new fixtures. But tenants who live in the
building say the transformation that's taken place there
goes far beyond physical details.
"You care more about the building now because it's
yours," explains Demetrius Renne, 21. The building was
recently purchased by the tenants after it was renovated by
the St. Nicholas Neighborhood Preservation Corporation.
The tenants give St. Nick's high marks for making
speedy repairs and informing them about their rights.
Miledis Arias, who has lived in the building for 22 years,
vocates across the city echo
this support of the Community Management Program.
"From our experience it's been a good program," says John
Reilly, the director of the Fordham-Bedford Housing Cor-
poration in the Bronx. "The neighborhoods have seen
buildings that they'd given up on turned around." And
Ana Bonano, the director of housing management at the
Los Sures housing group in Brooklyn, adds, "I love the
program. When I started working here with the program in
1984, we had so many buildings in bad ,condition. With
CMP, we've fixed all these buildings. Now the tenants all
own and manage the buildings."
Tenants Rush to Air Grievances
But these glowing references aren't universal, and not
every CMP building ends up being owned by the tenants.
Four tenements that stretch from 220-226 West 116th
Street were among the very first buildings in the program
and a ceremony commemorating their $2.5 million rehab
in 1980 was attended by then-Mayor Edward Koch and
written up in The New York Times. Today the front doors
swing wide open, graffiti is festooned in the hallways and
tenants rush to speak to a reporter about their grievances
with the West Harlem Community Organization, which
has owned and managed the building for a decade.
"West Harlem, they don't do shit," curses one man on
his way to the group's office, which is on the same block,
CITY UMITS/OCTOBER 1992115
to complain about a broken boiler. Sinclair Montoute,
who lives in 222 West 116th Street, adds, "When they first
started, it was okay. But problems developed because
everything was buddy-buddy. There was a lot ofmisman-
agement."
Others refuse to lay all the blame on the West Harlem
Community Organization. "West Harlem does a good job.
The problem is the tenants," says Missie Moye, who lives
in an immaculate apartment on the fourth floor of 220
West 116th Street. Moye and a few of her neighbors paid
$250 to own their apartment, but there weren't enough
tenants regularly taking part in a tenant association to
form a low income cooperative so they had to get their
money back.
"I started here April 1st and when I saw those buildings
I was horrified," notes Ruth Brown, a long-time West
Harlem Community Organization board member who is
now working part-time for the group. She explains the
early renovation money was a "mere pittance" that didn't
cover essential expenses like new wiring. "The city says
[the money they give you for repairs] will be sufficient, but
10 years down the line we live with the problems." (In the
early days of CMP, the city provided about $15,000 per
apartment for renovations. Today that allocation has in-
creased to about $38,000 per unit.)
Brown adds that West Harlem's director, Margaret
McNeill, recently died and that during her lengthy illness,
she" didn't have the right people around her." She denies
allegations of fiscal mismanagement,
partment standards and fixing the sewage pipe was not the
responsibility of her group.
Yearly Threat of Extinction
Despite some of the ambivalence about CMP that cur-
rently exists, there was an enormous amount of excite-
ment and hopefulness in its early days. Photographs and
articles from early issues of City Limits show tenants
standing proudly in the homes they helred renovate and
describe boisterous protests at City Hal , where placards
were waved and voices raised to save the program from a
yearly threat of extinction.
Started in 1973 as a pilot effort, CMP is widely acknowl-
edged as the brainchild of Robert Schur, a city housing
official who went on to establish a coalition of community
groups, the Association for Neighborhood and Housing
Development-and City Limits magazine.
"The whole thrust of CMP at the beginning, when
community groups fought for it, was that this was going to
be this real partnership" between tenants, the community
group and the neighborhood, recalls Jay Small, the cur-
rent director of the Association for Neighborhood and
Housing Development. In the early days, he says, the
program had a clear mission: "I hate the word, but it was
about empowering the residents of the neighborhood,
about having people engage in some sort of self-determin-
ing process, to be stakeholders in their neighborhood."
But behind these idealistic dreams were the pragmatic
needs of city government. The pilot
program that Schur started was ex- explaining that "the building started to
fall apart, people stopped paying rent,
we wound up owing vendors, oil wasn't
being delivered, we're owing thousands
of dollars in taxes. At least we've man-
aged to stay alive. A lot of organiza-
tions have fallen by the wayside." In
fact, several of West Harlem's proper-
ties are on the verge of fiscal collapse.
The city has begun in rem proceedings
against at least three of the buildings-
one owes more than $70,000 in unpaid
"Ten years down
the line we Ii ve
with the
panded in 1978, when New York was
in the throes of a severe recession and
new laws had accelerated the city's
takeover of tax-delinquent buildings,
leading to an unwanted windfall of
properties. And the city also had a
surplus of unspent federal Commu-
nity Development Block Grant funds.
problems. "
"It was a case of use it or lose it,"
recalls Philip St. Georges, whom the
housing department recruited from
the Urban Homesteading Assistance
Board to quickly set up the Division of
Alternative Management Programs,
taxes.
More problems are evident 30 blocks
north, where another community
group, West Harlem Group Assistance (WHGA), runs a
number of community management buildings. "They don't
want us to be successful, because they want to keep the
buildings to themselves," says Ethel Branch, a resident of
424 West 146th Street.
Branch complains that the group sends out unwar-
ranted eviction notices and took a year to fix an odor-
spewing sewage pipe in their building. She says she's
afraid to move out of her apartment to allow renovation.
"With West Harlem's track record, if you move out, that's
it," she says. She and her neighbors recently held a rally
to highlight 20 complaints about the group, ranging from
shabby bookkeeping to a failure to organize a tenant
association-a practice mandated by CMP.
Shelly Callendar, the director of West Harlem Group
Assistance, responds that she has signed an agreement
with the tenants promising that they will be able to return
to their apartments. She disputes the other complaints,
explaining that the building has always had a tenant
association and that WHGA meets with them each month.
She adds that WHGA's bookkeeping meets housing de-
18/0CTOBER 1992/CITY UMITS
which aimed to sell city-owned buildings to tenants,
community groups or private owners. "We didn't know
what was the best way to do this, so we said let's try
everything," he recalls. "It was a real challenge."
Besides CMP, St. Georges also helped set up the Tenant
Interim Lease Program and other efforts, but problems
with the pace and quality of the renovation within CMP
started early on. In a letter to City Limits in 1980, St.
Georges wrote: "Last year an $18 million Community
Management Program actually spent only $9 million of its
available funds .... Most of the unspent funding was for
rehabilitation projects the groups could not get under-
way." Even harsher, he added, "After eight years of exist-
ence and over $30 million of federal funding, the Commu-
nity Management Program has not resulted in the sale of
a single building to date."
But a research paper written by a coalition of neighbor-
hood groups participating in CMP presents another side of
the story. Although the buildings were not completed for
sale, members of the Community Management Coalition
argued that their work transformed 3,044 apartments
from shabby shells to
livable homes.
The coalition
members also noted
intangible rewards:
of the Urban Home-
steading Assistance
Board, which assists
tenants learning to
own and manage their
buildings, says that if
the city was really
serious about tenant
ownership, tenants
would be the major
decision-makers in
the Community Man-
agement Program,
with the ability to fire
community groups
serving as their
manager.
"Another by-product
of the program is
something which can
not be purchased else-
where: a cadre of
dedicated commu-
nity persons working
close by the buildings
that they manage and
providing training
and consciousness-
raising to the tenants.
This enables tenants
to develop from for-
gotten, disadvantaged
persons into proud
homeowners. "
After 1980, the city
pressured commu-
Shattered Hopes: Three tenements on West 116th Street were among the first buildings
in the Community Management Program. Today the doors swing open and graffiti
festoon the walls.
"The most positive
role for community
groups is for them to
serve as a resource
for tenants and not
as landlords," he
nity groups to complete rehabilitation and sell the prop-
erty; if tenants didn't choose to purchase a building the
community group became the owner. By 1983, a total of 63
buildings had been sold.
The most important recent change in the Community
Management Program involved switching the payment
method to a fee-for-service system where community
groups get paid after work is done. This was meant to
ensure speedier renovation, repairs and sales, and some
say this was long overdue.
"There were plenty of carrots to munch on, but no
stick," says Alexander from Hope Community, Inc. "There
was no incentive or penalty for leaving a building in the
program for six or eight years and a lot of buildings stayed
in the program a long, long time."
Lost Partnership
Others counter that the new structure undermines the
basic principal of forging a partnership between the com-
munity group and the tenants. In its earlier incarnation,
the program had flexible funding that made it easier to
pay for "soft costs" such as administrative staff and tenant
organizers. "We don't even call them organizers any-
more," says Barbara Schliff, the housing director of the Los
Sures group in Brooklyn, referring to field staff once called
tenant organizers, then tenant liaisons and then managers.
Susan Saegert, a professor of environmental psychol-
ogy at the City University of New York, and the author of
"From Abandonment to Hope: Community-Households
in Harlem," says her research shows that in successful
tenant-owned buildings, the importance of extensive
tenant organizing cannot be underestimated. "Tenants
have to learn a lot to be technically and socially prepared
for ownership," she says. "If they don't learn it during the
renovation period, it's difficult to learn. After that, they
start to feel they've bought into something that someone
else controls." She adds, "My impression of the Commu-
nity Management Program is that the rewards and punish-
ments the city used did not really support a tenant coop-
erative form of development."
Others echo her opinion. Andrew Reicher, the director
says. "The tenant-
controlled buildings tend to provide better housing and
the tenants feel more satisfied with their housing because
they control it."
But others question whether it's realistic to assume that
all buildings can become tenant-owned. "Let's tell the
truth," says Farrahkan from the Oceanhill Brownsville
Tenants Association. " Every [building] is not prepared to
be a co-op the same way not everyone is prepared to be a
nuclear physicist."
"What we found in larger buildings is that co-ops are
tougher," adds Getz Obstfeld, the former director of the
Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association in
the South Bronx. "Every group has differences in terms of
their philosophy and experience. Some said we believe in
the co-op model but it isn't working out. Others had the
opposite experience. At Banana Kelly we've found it to be
a mixed bag."
Obstfeld says that because of this, he and many other
housing advocates are exploring the Mutual Housing
Association model, which allows community groups and
tenants to jointly own clusters of buildings. "We're trying
to blend the best of both approaches," he says. "Everyone's
still struggling with the questions. They're not going to go
away."
Future Lessons
For the future, advocates say, three lessons from CMP
are clear: the need for adequate resources to fully rehabili-
tate buildings, the importance of competent community
managers, and the necessity of support from the city for
tenant organizing and education.
The final lesson may be the most important-and the
most difficult to apply in a city where funding that doesn't
quickly lead to tangible achievements has always been in
short supply. In a rather startling acknowledgement, st.
Georges says, "One of our real failings was not addressing
the long-term aspects of these buildings, how you have
stability in the buildings and the neighborhoods over
time. It's one of the problems of working in HPD and
government in general. You're thinking about today,
tomorrow and the next election." 0
CITY UMITS/OCTOBER 1992/17

Advocates Blast New Program
T
he regulations for a new plan
to sell city-owned apartment
buildings to community-
based nonprofit groups are
being finalized and Mayor David
Dinkins' avowed beneficiaries-the
community groups-are not very
happy about the results.
In a nod to entrepreneurship and
the private construction and
management industries, the first
program within the Neighborhood
Ownership Works (NOW) initiative
relies heavily on the for-profit sector
in the early stages of the program.
F or-profit contractors and construc-
tion managers will have primary
responsibility for overseeing reno-
vations and choosing new tenants
for empty apartments. Only then
will nonprofit community groups
be brought in to buy and manage
the buildings.
Undermining Empowerment
Tenant leaders and housing ad-
vocates say the new program ig-
nores many of the key lessons
learned from the past two decades
of community-based housing work.
They say the NOW regulations don't
give tenants a significant voice in
renovation, management or own-
ership, and relegate the commu-
nity groups to a standard landlord
role, undermining their larger mis-
sion of local empowerment.
"The NOW program takes the
worst aspects of the various housing
programs and puts them into one,"
says Jay Small, the executive
director of the Association for
Neighborhood Housing and Devel-
opment (ANHD), a coalition of
about 30 community-based housing
groups.
"When you don't involve people
in the process, you have a situation
where people say, 'It's not my
problem, '" explains Bernard Alston
from the Union of City Tenants.
"Then small problems end up being
big problems. Tenants are very
concerned about security, but when
they're not involved in the
building's process then they lose
interest and outsiders can get
involved in the buildings," which
18/OCTOBER 1992/CITY UMITS
often leads to drug-dealing activity.
Alston and many other advocates
argue that the city should reassess its
plans for the future of city-owned
buildings. Most of these buildings are
in extremely poor shape but they
provide the housing of last resort for
families with no other alternative; the
median income of tenants in city-
owned buildings is less than $7,000,
according to the 1987 Housing and
Vacancy Report. In the past five years,
more than 12,000 homeless families
have moved into city-owned build-
ings, which the city acquired when
landlords failed to pay taxes.
The purpose of the new initiative is
privatization-selling off city-owned
buildings. The draft regulations spell
out a process where for-profit con-
tractors would oversee the renovation
of run-down, occupied buildings and
choose tenants for apartments that
have been vacant. Once this process is
complete, the city would sell the
building to a community-based orga-
nization in the neighborhood. If there
aren't qualified nonprofits, the city
could then sell the building to for-
profit developer.
The city plans to spend more than
$300 million in the next four years to
renovate and sell off9,300 city-owned
apartments. This comes to about
$32,000 per unit.
Lack of Experienced Groups
Housing department officials say
the new program is necessary because
the city can no longer afford to man-
age tens of thousands of apartments-
and there aren't enough experienced
community-based housing groups to
oversee management and renovation
of buildings being sold.
"If you have the same groups
involved in every aspect of every
building, you just can't deal with the
need," says Joan W allstein, an assistant
commissioner at the Department of
Housing Preservation and Develop-
ment. She adds, "The key thing that
people have to remember is there are
thousands of buildings. It's not fair to
say a building has to sit and wait
several years before a local community
group can get around to renovating
it."
Wallstein adds that one aim of
the new program is expanding the
universe of community groups
taking over city property. "Some
groups only have the ability to do
management-if we can widen the
sphere of groups that can manage
and own city property then we
won't overburden the groups we
have now."
Involved-Up To A Point
The assistant commissioner has
no qualms about including for-
profit contractors in renovation
work. "Some of the very best man-
agement and construction manage-
ment firms come from the private
sector," she says.
And she argues that the NOW
regulations include adequate pro-
visions for the input of tenants and
community groups. "We do intend
to have both groups involved-up
to a point," she says. "But I don't
think you have to have everybody
in lockstep through the process to
have a good product that lasts."
Many tenant leaders and housing
advocates beg to differ. They say
that if tenants and the community
group don't form a partnership in
the early days of renovation, it's.
very easy for a hostile landlord-
tenant relationship to develop, and .
for the building to eventually deteri-
orate. "It's a scenario for disaster.
Groups will become slumlords,"
says Joe Center, the director of the
Ecumenical Center for Community
Development in Harlem.
Besides questioning the process
leading up to the sale of buildings,
housing advocates are also raising
serious questions about how build-
ings will be able to provide afford-
able housing for very low income
tenants-and also be economically
viable in the long run without oper-
ating subsidies. Others say the pro-
gram is deficient because it doesn't
create paths for buildings to even-
tually be owned by the tenants or a
collective land trust known as a
Mutual Housing Association, in
which both tenants and commu-
nity groups share the responsibili-
ties of ownership. 0 Lisa Glazer
,

CITY LIMITS
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----
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Starting Small
Fighting Incineration from the School,
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Winner of the

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ern UMITS/OCTOBER 199211.
Overcrowded Masses
causes of the city's chronic homeless
crisis. There are currently one million
New Yorkers on welfare, and welfare
only provides a housing allowance of
$286 for a family of three.
New data offer a grim picture of a worsening
housing crisis.
Meanwhile, the median rent of New
York's occupied apartments rose sub-
stantially in the 1980s and early 1990s,
from $265 in 1981 to $509 in 1991. In
inflation-adjusted 1991 dollars, that's
an increase of about 20 percent, and
comes at a time when the earnings of
the average renting household in-
creased only 10 percent.
H
igh rents, low wages, and no
cheap place to live: it's possi-
bly the most dependable New
York story. And by at least one
measure, it's more common now than
ever. According to the federal Bureau
of the Census' still-unpublished 1991
Housing and Vacancy Survey, one in
four tenant households in the city
spends more than half its income on
rent. Ten years ago, the figure was
closer to one in five.
That's only one of the stunning
pieces of information found in the
comprehensive, triennial survey of
more than 18,000 city apartments and
houses. Much of the data confirms
estimates and anecdotal reports about
the state of housing in New York dur-
ing a year of recession, declining prop-
erty values, and increasing immigra-
tion-and marked, as ever, by a
chronic shortage of affordable housing.
The data show a ballistic increase
in the number of New York house-
holds crammed into overcrowded
apartments. According to the survey,
crowding has become far worse than
it's been in more than two decades.
The number of "severely crowded"
households city-wide shot up 69 per-
cent in four years and 144 percent
since 1978. The figures represent the
years when foreign immigration to
New York soared and the human den-
sity of compact neighborhoods like
Washington Heights, Chinatown,
Crown Heights and Flushing became
steadily more apparent.
The survey's data on vacancies has
already caused a stir among deregula-
tion advocates. For the first time since
the mid 1960s, the overall vacancy
rate for the city topped 3.5 percent.
Rent regulation remains in force so
long as the vacancy rate stays below
five percent.
But the overall vacancy rate is mis-
leading. The vacancy rate for apart-
ments with rents less than $500 is
only 1.9 percent, and the number of
affordable rentals has continued to
diminish. The number of vacant apart-
ments available for less than $300 a
month has dropped off drastically, by
66 percent since 1984. Meanwhile the
number of vacant luxury units costing
$1,000 a month or more has skyrock-
eted 210 fercent since 1987-in part
a result 0 unsold, high-cost coopera-
tive apartments shifting into the rental
market. This data helps explain the
The survey provides fuel to counter
the claims of deregulation advocates
who argue that rent control unfairly
benefits wealthy tenants. In fact, the
average occupant of a rent controlled
apartment is very poor: their median
annual household income is just
$12,075 and has failed to keep pace
with inflation in the last decade. Still,
rent controlled housing is becoming
less of a factor as the number of con-
trolled apartments declines rapidly.
Rent stabilized apartments became
less affordable during the last decade,
when the median rent of occupied,
rent-stabilized apartments increased
from $288 in 1981 to $522 in 1991.
That's an increase 13 percent greater
than the rate of inflation.
Three separate reports based on the
1991 survey are scheduled for release
during the next year or two. But all of
the reports have been delayed by tie-
ups at the census bureau. 0 Andrew
White
Affordable housing is disappearing fast ...
Low rent vacancies decline ...
15,000 -r------------------,
12,000
9,000
6,000
3,000
o
1984 1987 1991
Vacant units available for rent at less than
$300/month
20jOCTOBER 1992jCITY UMITS
I
!
"'
1:;
~
I:
'S
0-
J!
E
~
z
. .. high rent vacancies increase
15,000 .,...-----------------,
12,000 -+-----------------,,1
9,000-+-------------,
6,000 -+----------:
3,000 -+------=
o
1984 1987 1991
Vacant units available for rent at more than
$l,OOO/month
... and rent control is
on the wane.

I
!

'S
.I

o
1981 1984 1987 1991
Chart shows the rapid decline in the total number
of rent controlled apartments in New York City.
The median annual household income of rent
controlled tenants is only $12,075.
11

I
..
11
1

I








0
1975
Meanwhile, severe
crowding soars.
1978 1981 1984 1987
Crowding in New York apartments is far worse
than it's been in two decades, and rising fast.
Chart shows the number of rental apartments
with more than 1.5 persons per room.
Median rents and stabilized rents are on the rise-
even after they're adjusted for inflation.
$600 .....,.....---------------,
400
1970 1978 1984 1991
Median rent adjusted for inflation, 1991 dollars.

$522
400
Median stabilized rent adjusted for inflation,
1991 dollars.
Source: Bureau of the Census. 1991 Housing and Vacancy Survey for New York City
1991
CITY UMITS/OCTOBER 1992/21
Electric Shock
Is the New York Power Authority robbing the city
of low-cost power?
BY BILL WEINBERG AND ANDREW WHITE
N
ew York's subways are nuclear powered. Really.
So are the city's street lights and housing projects.
Much of the electricity that runs them comes
from the Indian Point Three reactor near Peekskill
on the Hudson River, and the Fitzpatrick nuclear
plant in Scriba, near Syracuse-and it isn't cheap.
This electricity flow is supplied by the New York Power
Authority, a quasi -state agency that also generates some of
the cheapest hydro-electricity in the country-but city
residents, businesses and government are cut out of the
deal.
This cheap power is generated at two massive dam
complexes near the Canadian border, and it goes directly
to homes and factories that use waste-
ful electric heat and other out-of-date
technology in the northern and west-
can't build or maintain their factories in New York City, in
large part because electric rates here are among the highest
in the nation. Redirecting some of upstate's cheap, clean
hydro-power to the city would help ensure an affordable
future for city industry without building massive new
power production plants, environmentalists and city
officials argue. Others add that the current debate offers an
opportunity to question who should have access to cheap
power: big, multi-national corporations, or small urban
manufacturers?
Straddling the St. Lawrence
In rapids four miles below Niagara Falls, built into the
walls of the gorge, lies NYPA's Robert Moses Niagara
Power Plant, its 13 turbines charged by water flowing
down from the top of the falls through
underground channels. NYPA engi-
neers can actually control the flow
ern sections of New York State. Mean-
while, New York City pays more than
four times as much for nuclear-gener-
ated power, because the power author-
ity decided years ago that taking any
cheap power away from upstate would
"devastate" the region's economy.
"We want some of
that power and
we're entitled to it
over the top of the famous falls by
increasing or decreasing the flow
through the underground channels.
NYPA's second hydro facility is the
Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Plant,
which straddles the St. Lawrence
River, harnessing its power to turn 16
turbines as it flows from Lake Ontario
to the sea.
City officials say the upstate mo-
nopoly on hydro-power is against the
law, and they're waging a battle in the
under the law."
courts to get some of the bargain elec-
tricity sent downstate. "We want some
of that power and we're entitled to it
under the law," says Margaret King, an attorney with the
city's Corporation Counsel.
The suit is now before the state Supreme Court's appel-
late division after a long tour around federal and state
courts. Local energy experts give the case little chance of
succeeding on appeal, but they say the legal wrangle
underscores the need for a new state energy policy that
promotes energy efficiency and conservation for the
factories and homes in northern and western New York-
so the cheap power can be shared between New York City
and upstate.
"There's no good reason it can't happen, other than
historical enmity and political laziness," says New York-
based energy analyst Charles Komanoff, arguing that if the
upstate factory and home owners had a strong incentive to
use their power more efficiently, the city, the state and
local utility customers would all benefit from power
sharing. "There are a lot of win-win ideas out there that the
political system doesn't seem able to put into place, and so
far this is one of them," he says.
For years, manufacturers have complained that they
22/0CTOBER 199Z/CITY UMITS
The collective output from these
two NYP A facilities is more than 1,000
megawatts. It is resold to upstate
private utilities like Niagara-Mohawk,
Rochester Gas & Electric, and New York State Energy &
Gas, helping to keep their consumer rates among the
lowest in the country. Much of the power is also made
available to the energy-intensive giants of the
St. Lawrence River Valley, including Reynolds Alumi-
num, the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), and
General Motors-at a rate as low as under 1.7 cents per
kilowatt-hour. Downstate energy consumers typically pay
up to 15 cents per kilowatt-hour, and the city government
pays about 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for NYP A's nuclear-
generated power.
The Niagara and St. Lawrence power plants were con-
ceived, along with NYP A itself, in the New Deal era, when
massive public power projects were used to help pull the
country out of the Great Depression, and the federal
government commissioned Woody Guthrie to sing the
praises of hydro-dams. NYPA's founding legislation, the
State Power Authority Act of1931, reads that the agency's
power will be "for the benefit of the people of the state as
a whole." There is similar wording in the federal Niagara
Development Act, which mandated the construction of
the FDR plant. developed energy
efficient motors.
Then the city could
buy the cheap hy-
dro-power that is
freed up. He mod-
els his proposal on
a West Coast pro-
gram, where Cali-
fornian utility cus-
tomers cover the
cost of efficiency
~ projects in Mon-
o tana, then buy the
~ left-over, cheaper
~ Montana power.
~ Energy effi-
lr ciency is central to
g the argument for
~ redirecting hydro-
~ power downstate.
In 1989, New
YorkCityatlorneys
seized upon this
wording to launch
litigation aimed at
sending some of
the hydro-power
flowing south,
bringing suit under
the Niagara Devel-
opment Act before
the Federal Energy
Regulatory Com-
mission, and under
the Power Author-
ity Act in state
court. The city ar-
gued that by with-
holding its least ex-
pensive power
from downstate
consumers, NYPA
fails to live up to
its own founding
flowing U.-.-n: The Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant generates some 0/ the cheapest
power in the country-and almost all a/it stays in upstate New York.
Already, Con
Edison, along with
many other utili-
mandate-and NYP A's contracts with the upstate utilities
and industries are therefore illegal. "There's absolutely no
way you can conceivably square what the power authority
is doing with what the law says," argues King.
NYPA lawyers, however, found a way to do just that.
They argued that the law only says the authority in general
must act in the interests of the state as a whole, but each
contract needn't be put to that standard. Thus far, the
courts have agreed. The case was dismissed by a federal
appellate court, and the Supreme Court refused to hear it
in 1990. With federal remedies exhausted, the city is
concentrating its efforts at the state level. In 1990, the
city's case was dismissed by state Supreme Court Judge
Harold Baer, who agreed with NYPA lawyers that the
wording of the Power Authority Act was vague. In July
1992, the city filed an appeal with the New York State
Supreme Court Appellate Division.
But many energy experts and even city officials who
support the suit say it has little chance of success. "The
judicial standard is arbitrary," says Chris Ward, assistant
commissioner of energy policy for the city. "The judge
says, 'I'm not an energy economist. NYP A's a state agency,
so let them deal with it. '"
Political Decision
Ward and others say the fight must instead be decided
politically, in Albany. That will take some creative work
on the part of the city, says Ashok Gupta, energy point-
man with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "It's big
politics in the governor's office and the legislature, and the
city doesn't have much leverage there," he says. "People
don't always listen no matter how much you're right on
the facts. It will take more than that."
Komanoff argues that the city should stop relying on the
lawsuits and focus instead on a productive proposal to put
before the regulators and legislators. He points out that
metropolitan New Yorkers could save money by subsidiz-
ing the installation of non-electric heat in homes upstate,
helping offices put in new high-tech lighting and cooling
systems, and paying for factories to switch over to newly-
ties around the
country, is marketing and profiting from the sale of energy
efficient technology. State regulators allow some pri-
vately-owned utilities to increase rates to cover the cost of
subsidies for installing efficient technology in homes and
businesses, plus a profit margin. Energy saved through
efficiency becomes a new resource, and the utilities thus
avoid having to build new power generating plants.
But, critics argue, so long as upstate consumers have
ready access to very cheap power, they have little reason
to adopt energy efficiency. That means the state isn't using
power as efficiently as it should and may have to find other
resources for power generation, according to Gupta.
But efficiency proposals for upstate have met with a
stubborn state administration and an often unresponsive
power authority. NYPA is controlled by five trustees
chosen by Governor Mario Cuomo-only one of them
from New York City-and approved by the Republican-
controlled state Senate. "NYP A is not accountable to
anybody but the governor," says Warren Leibold, former
head of the New York State Environmental Planning
Lobby. Gupta agrees. "It basically comes down to a politi-
cal decision on the part of Governor Cuomo," he says.
Cuomo and his men at the power authority decided
several years ago not to redirect any of the cheap hydro-
power downstate, and have held firm ever since. "It was
a tradition for over 30 years that that power had gone
upstate," explains NYP A spokesman Stephen Shoenholz.
"It was determined that the economic devastation that
would have been wrought on upstate would have vastly
outweighed any benefits downstate." Asked if the deci-
sion had been reassessed now that energy efficient tech-
nology has become much cheaper, Shoenholz will only
say that the decision "was very carefully considered"
when it was made.
Electric Heaters
Meanwhile, in northwestern New York State, where
the winters are cold and the snow gets deep, many homes
are heated with extremely inefficient electric heaters
because power is so cheap. And the two aluminum smelt-
CITY UMITS/OCTOBER 1992/23
ing plants in Massena, New York, which consume more
than one-third of the power generated at the two upstate
hydro plants, are among the oldest aluminum smelters in
the country. They use about 15 to 20 percent more power
than their newer counterparts elsewhere, says David
Moison of Resource Strategies Inc., a consulting firm that
works with industrial metal manufacturers.
The metal smelting industry is among the most energy-
intensive on earth-as well as the most polluting. The St.
Lawrence region has already been severely contaminated
by the numerous aluminum and chemical plants fueled by
cheap hydro on both the New York and Canadian sides of
the river. In 1988, Greenpeace commandos hung a giant
banner reading "ST. LAWRENCE POLLUTERS" from a
Reynolds Aluminum plant overlooking the river.
But the plants employ about 1,000 upstate residents,
and few officials are eager to drive the aluminum compa-
nies out. In fact, as it is, the smelters are so old that the
aluminum companies have little reason to invest in up-
grading their technology. "You have to figure your plant
will last long enough to recoup the investment," says
Moison.
The downstate litigants insist that
they are not challenging upstate
housing projects and government offices, and it's not
nearly as cheap as the hydro-electricity generated upstate.
A small amount of upstate hydro-power is available to
NYCPUS only as "interruptible" power. That is, the agency
sends it downstate only when there is a surplus upstate.
This is the cheaper, but comparatively minimal rower
that goes to the 5,000 area manufacturers, most 0 them
relatively small operations. Margaret King calls this a
"pittance. "
Some critics say the city should be subsidizing the
small manufacturers first, and the big companies later. "It
is fundamentally wrong that the biggest subsidy goes to
the biggest blusterer-like Shearson Lehman blustering
about moving out of the city," says Komanoff. "A Grumman
or a Shearson can get the attention and therefore get the
subsidy." Others say the hydro-power should all go to-
ward cutting the city's energy bill across the board.
James Bay Redux?
Still, the question of where the power goes is moot until
there's some change of heart in Albany. That happened
once before this year, in a related case.
The struggle over New York State's
power grid made headlines in March
industry's access to cheap power. "The
city has never opposed the industrial
allocations of hydro-power to meet job
needs," says Ward. "But to sell it to
general consumers is wasteful. Resi-
dential customers in the Niagara-
Mohawk service area use three times
as much power and pay a third of what
people pay in New York City. They
don't even bother to put in storm win-
dows. General rate payers should be
weaned off of this subsidy. It should go
to economic development."
"It is
fundamentally
wrong that the
biggest subsidy
goes to the biggest
blusterer-like
when Cuomo announced that NYP A
had pulled out of a deal to purchase
1,000 megawatts of power for $12 bil-
lion from the Canadian utility Hydro-
Quebec. Much of the Quebec hydro-
power had been slated for the metro-
politan area, and NYP A officials had
long argued that the power purchase
was the best way to supply the region's
power needs without building new,
expensive, polluting power plants in
the state.
Cuomo cited economic reasons for
the change in plans. But he was under
heavy pressure from environmental-
ists who oppose the state's complicity
in the construction of Hydro-Quebec's
James Bay II dam comflex, which
Preferred Beneficiaries
Shearson
What constitutes "economic devel-
opment," however, is in the eye of the
policy maker.
Lehman."
The city and its co-litigants,
Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk coun-
ties, want most of the NYPA power not
for Con Edison or retail consumers, but to provide cut-rate
electricity for their preferred beneficiaries of "economic
development", mostly big area employers. According to
Ward, this is the best way for the city to get the most "bang
for its buck."
Ward is co-director of the New York City Public Utili-
ties Service (NYCPUS), which provides NYPA power at
discount rates for local employers like the Chase Manhat-
tan Bank, Morgan Guaranty Trust, ABC and NBC, the
Hunts Point Meat Market, ilie New York Post, and-when
it's available-to over 5,000 mostly small manufacturers.
The counties which have joined the case have similar
agencies, such as the Nassau County Public Utility Agency
and the Suffolk C O ~ ~ b Electrical Agency. Other firms,
such as the giant M attan investment firm Shears on
Lehman and the Long Island defense contractor Grumman
Aerospace, receive NYP A power under separate discount
deals they have worked out independently with Albany.
Most of the cut-rate "economic development" power is
the same nuclear power the city buys for the subways,
24/0CTOBER 1992/CITY UMITS
would flood vast areas 0 tundra and
sub-arctic forest along with the home-
land of many Native Americans. Op-
ponents of the Quebec contract convinced the public-
and the governor-that the deal was not only too expen-
sive, but unnecessary mainly because ofrapid advances in
energy efficient technology.
But, experts say, the Hydro-Quebec contract could
always be renegotiated if the state doesn't pursue energy
efficiency quickly enough and finds itself in need of new
energy supplies. They say that as long as upstate consum-
ers have exclusive access to NYPA's cheap hydro-power,
the utilities and factories there have little reason to pursue
energy efficiency, and the state's power won't be used as
effectively as it should be-giving the governor an excuse
to go back to Hydro-Quebec.
During the 1980s, NYPA built massive power lines
connecting New York City with the ~ t . Lawrence region-
ostensibly to carry James Bay II power downstate. Instead
of carrying power from James Bay II, there's a chance these
power lines could be used for a very different purpose:
sharing cleaner, cheaper hydro-power between upstate
and New York City. 0
THE CITY LIMITS
RESOURCES CLEARINGHOUSE
"ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH"
City Limits is expanding the scope of the clearinghouse-
as well as pamphlets, handbooks and guides, we're also listing
reports and publications.
Because of the volume of infonnation available, we'll be
publishing listings by topic: Housing and Development,
Environment and Health, Economic Development and
Community Banking, and Community Organizing.
To list your resource with the clearinghouse, call 925-9820.
"Hazardous Neighbors? Living Next Door to Industry in Greenpoint
and Williamsburg" and "Right to Breathe, Right to Know: Industrial
Air Pollution in Greenpoint and Williamsburg." Reports on toxic
pollution and air pollution. Community Environmental Health Center.
Free for residents of Greenpoint and Williamsburg. $15 for others.
"Harlem Environmental Action." Brochure on how to advocate on
environmental issues in Harlem. West Harlem Environmental Action.
Free.
"Longwood Letter. " A quarterly newsletter focusing on toxic waste
and other issues in Hunt's Point and Longwood in the Bronx. Sent out
to members of the Longwood Historic District Community Associa-
tion. Membership is $10.
''1breshold.'' Annual newsletter on home improvement, quality of life
and environmental issues. Neighborhood Housing Services of East
Flatbush. Free.
"City Cyclist" and "Auto Free Press." Bi-monthly magazine and
newsletter. Sent to members of Transportation Alternatives. Member-
ship is $20.
"The Environmental Cost of Electricity." Volume of studies about
environmental damage of generating electricity. Pace University Cen-
ter for Environmental Legal Studies. $38.50.
"The Newspoint." Quarterly newsletter on planning, development,
land use and community issues in Hunters Point, Queens. Hunters
Point Community Development Corporation. Free.
"Household Conservation Tips," a short English-Spanish guide to
conserving water in the home. Department of Environmental Protec-
tion. Free.
"Dripnet." Nine-minute videotape on water waste in and around the
home. Department of Environmental Protection. Free for two-week
loan. $10 for purchase.
"To Plant a Tree: A Citizens Guide to Urban Reforestation." Brochure.
New York State Releaf. Send stamped, self enclosed envelope. Free.
"Environmental Tips for Your Office." Environmental Action Coali-
tion. $3.
"Recycling Action Guide." A how-to guide on office paper recycling.
Environmental Action Coalition. $5.
"Recycled Paper Sources." Fact sheet on where small vendors can buy
small amounts of recycled paper. Environmental Action Coalition. $1 .
"Be a Water Watcher: A Resource Guide for Water Conservation."
NYC Department of Environmental Protection. Free.
"Cycle," a quarterly about local environmental issues that is sent to
members of the Environmental Action Coalition. Membership is $20.
"Smart Moves." Quarterly newsletter about transportation innova-
tions underway by the city's transportation office. Department of
Transportation. Free.
"Uptown Eco Blues: Environmental Woes in Harlem." Special 24-
page report from the summer of 1991. The City Sun. $3.
"Spring and Summer Guide." Lists programs on environmental sci-
ence, urban gardening, workshops on lead poisoning. Magnolia Tree
Earth Center of Bedford-Stuyvesant. Free.
"Lightwheels News." Bi-annual newsletter concerning solar, electric
and hand-powered vehicles. Lightwheels, Inc. Free.
' 'Tackling Toxics in Everyday Products." Directory of organizations
with infonnation on toxics. INFORM. $19.95.
"Amicus Journal," a quarterly magazine covering national and inter-
national environmental issues. Natural Resources Defense Council.
$10.
"Worldwatch Magazine," bi-monthly publication dealing with envi-
ronmental issues. Worldwatch Institute. $15.
"Alternatives to the Automobile: Transporting Livable Cities." Report
by the Worldwatch Institute. $5.
"Lower East Side Ecology Newsletter. " Newsletter that comes with
membership to Outstanding Renewal Enterprises, a recycling group.
Membership is $25.
"Pregnancy Rights." Pamphlet covers health care and patient rights.
Medgar Evers Center for Law and Social Justice. Send self-addressed
envelope with stamp. Free.
TO ORDER
Please include check(s} or money order(s} payable to the
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The Resources Clearinghouse is supported by the Joyce Foundation.
CITY UMITS/OCTOBER 199212&
A Capital Primer
Everything you ever wanted to know about the city's
capital budget ... and how to change it.
BY TOM KAMBER
l\T
ew Yorkers are known for their strong, often
loudly expressed opinions on every topic
under the sun. Go to any gathering and you
can find them holding forth confidently on
the bullpen woes of the Yankees, the peace
prospects in Sri Lanka, or the mating habits of the milodon
sloth. But there is one topic that is guaranteed to draw
blank stares from even the most opinionated: the capital
budget.
What is the capital budget? It's the document that
outlines how the mayor intends to spend the money the
city borrows on Wall Street by selling bonds. This money
can only be spent on large-scale projects that develop the
city's infrastructure. During the last decade, the number
and cost of these projects has grown, and grown, and
grown. Since 1980, capital spending commitments have
more than tripled, surging from $1.2 billion to $4.5 billion
annually, and 10-year projections have climbed from $35
billion to $67 billion.
Because of the huge amounts of money invol ved, capital
spending is very controversial, with strong supporters and
vehement opponents engaging in a debate that is being
echoed at every level of government. It boils down to this:
should the government borrow billions of dollars to support
projects that are meant to spur economic growth? Or will
borrowing drag the government-and the taxpayers-into
a swamp of unnecessary and unwieldy debt?
In New York, some capital budget watchers are worried
that overspending and short-sighted priorities are pushing
the city toward a debt crisis. But other prominent leaders
say significant capital spending is necessary for the city to
26/0CTOBER 1992/CITY UMRS
keep up basic maintenance and move forward with
important public works projects.
So far, much ofthe debate has been confined to a small
but passionate coterie of policy wonks, intellectuals and
politicians. While this is understandable given the
complexity of the issues, it is also unfortunate, since the
capital budget has a profound impact on all New York
communities. What follows is a primer on the capital
spending debate and an introduction to the capital budget
process.
Al'ewBints
Wresting any meaning from the jumble oftechnocratic
terms, financing arrangements and revenue projections
that frame the debate on the capital budget is a daunting
task-especially if, like me, you decisively failed high
school math. A few hints, however, can hel p those without
finance degrees not only understand the capital budget,
but begin to take an active role in its shaping.
Unlike the federal government, cities cannot borrow to
meet day-to-day operating costs-they have to balance
their budgets, making revenues equal expenses. All cities
are required by law to pay short-term operating costs out
of the expense budget, which is about $30 billion for New
York this year and is funded mostly by taxes and federal
and state aid. The capital budget, where borrowing is
allowed, is used only for projects that are expected to be
useful for at least five years and have a price tag of at least
$15,000, like bridge and highway construction, or incin-
erators, or construction subsidies for new low-income
housing.
To fund projects in the capital budget, the city sells
bonds that will be paid back-with interest-over a period
of five to 20 years. There is a certain logic to this practice
since those that actually benefit from a project-tomorrow's
taxpayers-end up paying for it. Unfortunately, they also
end up paying more, since interest rates and underwriting
fees (paid to the investment banks that sell the city's
bonds) add on a sizeable cost. Also, tomorrow's voters
have no control over the capital priorities of today's
policy-makers.
Bow Big is Too Big?
All this adds up to a double responsibility: the govern-
ment needs to invest enough to ensure a future of sound
bridges, adequate schools and effective environmental
protection, but the government has to be very careful not
to overestimate the capacity of future taxpayers to pay
back the debt.
Some observers say New York City'S capital budget is
on the right track. Manhattan Borough President Ruth
Messinger, for instance, supports maintaining a substan-
tial capital program, arguing that capital expenditures
represent an important tool for reinvigorating our stalled
economy. As an example, she cites President Jimmy
Carter's extensive federal spending in
the cities as the precursor to urban
economic growth in the 1980s, and
"Anything that can be delayed should be delayed," he
counsels.
Many others agree that the spending should be cur-
tailed. They argue that the current spending plan was
based on rosy 1980s projections of economic expansion-
an expansion that could have boosted tax revenues and
made debt payments affordable. But the projections were
unfounded, and critics say that by 1998 the city will be
spending 201ercent of its tax revenues on interest pay-
ments relate to the capital debt.
StraDge AnteDee
Leading the pack among those who want maximum
downsizing in the capital budget have been the mayor's
Office of Management and the Budget (OMB) and the pro-
business Citizens Budget Commission (CBC).
This year, OMB tried to scale back capital spending by
30 percent, but, after an uproar within city agencies and
the City Council, settled for a cut of about 10 percent.
"We're just trying to take a fairly conservative view in
general," explains Amy Laskey, head of OMB's Capital
Planning Unit. "It's hard to know when things are going to
turn around or to what extent." Dean
Mead from CBC, whose organization
called for a 20 percent reduction in the
subsequent cuts as the preamble to the
current decline. "Right now, we should
be looking for ways not to cut the
capital budget," she says.
Former Mayor Edward Koch also
supports an aggressive capital spend-
ing program. "You can get a lot of
things done at much cheaper interest
rates because of the recession," Koch
argues. "It's too great a bargain to pass
up."
Theeapita!
budget has
tripled from
$1.2 billion to
$4.8 billion
capital plan in a 1990 report, describes
even the newly trimmed plan as "enor-
mous" and says that the amount of
New Yorkers' personal income needed
to pay debt service by the year 2000 is
"a staggering figure."
Many left-wing commentators, in a
strange conjuncture of ideologies fast
becoming characteristic of the 1990s,
have taken a view of capital spending
that equals the caution of the conser-
vatives. Some leftists complain that
the financing arrangements for selling
bonds result in huge profits for invest-
Messinger's argument recalls the
activist fiscal technique promoted by
followers of the liberal British econo-
mist John Maynard Keynes since the
an Dually.
1930s. "Keynesians" advocate bor-
rowing, to jump-start a sluggish
economy by stimulating business with government money.
Because the spending is intended to counter the extremes
of the economic cycle, it is called counter-cyclical spend-
ing.
The root question remains whether the city's capital
spending can generate enough long-lasting economic
activity to make the city's economy expand steadily; if it
doesn't, then the debt incurred in financing the capital
spending can become a severe burden, undermining basic
services. It's the same debate occurring now at the national
level between Democratic Party leaders who promote
federal investment in infrastructure projects and cities,
and Republicans and other Democrats who advocate cut-
ting the deficit as quickly as possible by curtailing borrow-
ing. .
New York University Professor of Economics Emanuel
Tobier is skeptical of the potential for a single city to turn
its economy around through capital spending. "Cities
shouldn't be in the counter-cyclical business," he says.
"That's something only the federal government can do."
Tobier believes that high capital expenditures during a
recession will cause bond buyers to become nervous,
driving up interest rates and costing the city money.
ment bankers and give undue political
leverage to the financial community-
particularly the bond rating agencies
that analyze the investment risk for city bonds.
There is a rich history of wariness in progressive circles
with respect to municipal debt. James O'Connor, in his
1973 classic The Fiscal Crisis of the State, argues that
banks make tremendouslrofits off municipal bonds "not
only by demanding (an getting) high interest rates but
also by influencing or controlling how borrowed funds are
expended." Doug Henwood of the Left Business Observer
says that municipal debt "involves a terrible kind of
income transfer from the poor to the rich," since wealthy
investors profit from the financing, and taxpayers eventu-
ally eat the costs.
Henwood, along with economist Bob Fitch, has been
critical of the city's relationship to its bond underwriters,
many of whom are major campaign contributors. Munici-
pal debt, he says, "leads to a very creepy form of campaign
financing." Indeed, in mid-summer, Crain's New York
Business reported that Ron Gault, managing director at
First Boston Corp., raised more than $106,000 for the 1989
Dinkins campaign, becoming the mayor's single biggest
fundraiser. Soon after, Gault's bank landed between $6
million and $7 million in underwriting fees on the sale of
$7.2 billion in city bonds-despite First Boston's parent
CITY UMITS/OCTOBER 1992/27
company's financial ties to South Africa.
No bit?
What are the alternatives to the mammoth capital
program? How can we stimulate the economy and rebuild
our infrastructure, but not turn control of the city over to
the bond raters and underwriters? Economists propose a
number of options.
Henwood and Fitch both believe we should explore
"pay as you go" financing, which means phasing out
borrowing over several
years and paying all ex-
penses, large and small, out
of tax revenues. This would
save the city large sums in
interest rates and underwrit-
ing fees and would certainly
eliminate any influence that
bond raters and investment
bankers have over city
policy. However, "pay as
you go" translates quickly
into a very unpopular ne-
cessity: higher taxes.
Another possible solu-
tion involves the use of
union pension funds to cre-
ate locally-owned "public
purpose" banks. Marty
Leary of the Southern Fi-
nance Project in North Caro-
lina proposes such a pro-
gram on a national scale in
which the federal govern-
ment, taking advantage of
the Savings & Loan crisis,
could "recharter banks as
public purpose systems." The banks could accept capital
from state pension funds, and the money could be lent to
municipalities without having to resort to Wall Street
financing. This approach allows the city to borrow when
it needs to, and reduces the underwriting cost, but does
little to reduce long-term interest costs that inevitably
result from capital financing.
Still another alternative is to allow the city to act
more like a corporation when it issues debt. At present,
municipal debt is subject to a wide array of restrictions,
some of which cost taxpayers money by driving up inter-
est rates. OMB and members of the financial community
have proposed changes that would make city debt more
competitive. They recommend issuing bonds with vari-
able interest rates and dividing city borrowing among
quasi-public authorities. But authorities are not subject to
the same rules of public oversight and disclosure as
government agencies, and the New York Public Interest
Research Group (NYPIRG) and ALTERBUDGET, along
with Borough. President Messinger and other good-gov-
ernment groups, oppose expanding the public corpora-
tions' power and influence.
The Bard. Choices
Still, most would-be reformers acknowledge that sub-
stantive changes are not an immediate prospect. Right
now, local activists are working to make sure the priorities
set forth in the capital budget reflect their concerns about
28jOCTOBER 1992jCITY UMITS
New York's long-term needs. Of course, determining these
priorities is a highly subjective game.
You may recall the judgement of Paris, when he was
charged with giving a golden apple to the goddess he liked
best. Forced to choose between Hera, Aphrodite, and
Athena, he must have lamented the scarcity of apples.
With advocates for bridges, hospitals, housing, economic
development, parks and school construction all vying for
a greater share of the capital budget pie, you too may feel
like Paris: no matter how carefully you set your priorities,
someone is going to be very
unhappy.
Many of the priorities for
the city's capital spending
have already been set by the
courts. Legally mandated
expenditures on education
and environmental protec-
tion take up a sizeable por-
tion of the budget. Another
large percentage is gobbled
up by basic infrastructure
costs that can't be avoided
in a city that has such an
active public sector (did you
know New York's subways
carry 60 percent of the sub-
way ridership of the entire
country?).
But there is still plenty of
room for wrangling between
agencies and advocacy
groups. For example, every
year the liberal budget ad-
vocacy coalition AL TER-
BUDGET calls for scaling
back jail building to free up
more money for social services. And every year, the mayor
and the City Council, eager to show they are tough on
crime, devote a big chunk of the capital budget to the
corrections department for more jail construction.
Another focus of activity is the incinerator program.
Activists including NYPIRG' s Arthur Kell have been fight-
ing for years to secure cuts in the incinerator program and
devote more money to recycling. Unfortunately, Kell says,
there is a "huge bias against recycling" demonstrated in
fiscal year 1993's capital commitment plan. The next four
years are currently slated to bring $720 million in funds
for incinerators, versus $91 million in money for recy-
cling.
Kell believes this disparity is made possible by a com-
bination of public ignorance of carital budget spending
and private greed on the part a those financing the
projects. The construction of an incinerator, he points out,
will require the city to spend millions of dollars on fees for
Wall Street bankers who sell bonds, while the develop-
ment of recycling centers and the rest of the recycling
infrastructure would require much less borrowed money.
"It's hard for me to believe," he says, "that there isn't some
degree of influence that results from the fact that there are
higher commissions [for financiers] on capitally intensive
facilities like incinerators."
City Limits readers may be the only ones who know it,
but one important area where the city has made some
headway is housing. Faced with the rising crisis of home-
lessness in the wake of the virtual elimination of federal
housing construction funds, the Koch administration
proposed a 10-year, $5.2 billion hous-
ing program, financed out of the capi-
tal budget. The thousands of newly-
focus carefully on the capital budget, the impact of each
group that gets involved is magnified.
The City Charter revisions adopted
in 1989 clearly outline how and when
renovated apartments produced by the
plan are a clear example of what the
capital budget can do.
Of course, while activists are push-
ing their agendas, the business com-
munity is lobbying just as hard for
capital investment that serves its in-
terests. Mayor Dinkins' high-profile
Committee on Incentives and Tax
Policy, chaired by Arthur Levitt, the
former head of the American Stock
Exchange, criticized the city for
iinvesting too little capital in major
economic development projects and
"If you're not
in the capital
budget over a
the public can get involved in the
budget process. It's very important to
get a handle on the process if you want
to have input. For information, you
can call or write for City Limits' fact
sheet on the budget process (40 Prince
Street, New York City, 10012).
One point to remember: Be very
careful when politicians throw capital
budget figures around. "Commit-
ments" are contracts that the city signs
for work. "Expenditures" are payments
made on these contracts. A huge
amount of capital activity is planned
each year but never happens, so be
period of years,
it's a death
sentence."
tncentives to business. The committee
complained that capital spending that
is "directly related to expanding our economic base and
particularly our primary growth sectors has virtually
ground to a halt."
ATlmeToAct
For those who want to see capital spending directed
toward the needs of a diverse community of New Yorkers,
the time to focus on the capital budget is now. The capital
budget is currently at the center of government policy
debates on all kinds of issues, and the push for and against
cuts could have a profound, lasting impact on communi-
ties. Also, since a relatively small number of organizations
sure to judge policy makers not on
their projections, but on their signed
commitments and completed projects.
The importance of the capital budget cannot be under-
estimated. "If your project exists in the capital budget
now, you're alive," says Esmerelda Simmons of the Medgar
Evers College Institute for Law and Social Justice, calling
for members of communities that have suffered from
under-investment to make their needs known. She explains
what's at stake: "If you're not in the capital budget over a
period of years, it's a death sentence." 0
Tom Kamber is a community organizer and freelance
writer from New York City.
Bankers1rustCompany
Community Development Group
A resource for the non ... profit
development community
Gary Hattem, Vice President
280 Park Avenue, 19 West New York, New York 10017
Tel: 212A54,3487 FAX 454,2380
CITY UMITS/ocrOBER 1992/29
By Errol T. Louis
Black in Brooklyn
"Caribbean New York: Black Immi-
grants and the Politics of Race," by
Philip Kasinitz. Cornell University
Press, 1992. $13.95.
A
walk down Franklin Avenue
in Crown Heights provides one
of those dizzying, sensory-
overload experiences unique to
New York. At the corner of Eastern
Parkway is Haitian territory; during
times of unrest in that country, hun-
dreds or even thousands of Haitians
and Haitian-Americans gather there
for spontaneous political activity,
complete with impromptu speeches,
caucuses, gossip and debates (all in
Creole, of course).
Six blocks north is "Little Panama,"
an Afro-Panamanian strip where
social clubs like Siempre Amigos
("Friends Forever") blare salsa and
merengue late into the night on week-
ends. A couple of blocks east is a long
string ofJamaican shops on Nostrand
Avenue with everything from beef
patties and jerk chicken to posters of
Marcus Garvey and newspapers from
Kingston carrying the latest word from
home.
And all this is just the fringe of New
York's fast-growing Caribbean com-
munity, which is concentrated south
of Eastern Parkway in southern Crown
Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush and
Prospect-Leffert Gardens.
Throughout the 1980s, about 25,000
legal immigrants from Haiti and the
English-speaking Caribbean came to
New York City every year, and un-
documented immigrants may have
numbered tens of thousands more.
Official numbers show at least half a
million non-Hispanic Caribbean
immigrants were probably living in
New York in the late 1980s, although
anybody living in Central Brooklyn
will tell you that the true number is
much higher.
Politicians Drawn Like Bees to Honey
When those kinds of numbers
cluster in a city like New York, it's
only a matter of time before politicians
are drawn as well, like bees to honey.
In the time-honored tradition of ethnic
machine politics, ambitious politi-
cians have been seeking to cultivate
the newly arriving Caribbean
immigrants into a voting block.
Enter Philip Kasinitz, a sociology
3O/0CTOBER 1992/CITY UMrrs
professor at Williams College who
has been studying the difficulty of
creating a generic "Caribbean" iden-
tity among immigrants from two dozen
islands who speak several different
languages and have widely differing
customs and histories. Kasinitz fo-
cuses on the Anglophone Caribbean
(along with Haitians, Guyanese and
English-speaking Afro-Panamanians)
because they tend to live and work
together, much more so than with
New Yorkers hailing from Hispanic
islands like Cuba, Puerto Rico and the
Dominican Republic.
Culti vating
Caribbean
immigrants into
a voting block.
In addition to performing an ex-
haustive demographic analysis of New
York's Caribbean population, Kasinitz
draws on an unscientific survey of
Brooklyn's "ethnic entrepreneurs."
This group of mostly men includes
businessmen, civil servants, and
others who-for a mix of selfish and
unselfish reasons-have tried to create
a community-wide Caribbean con-
sciousness and convert it into jobs,
city services and political power for
the community.
Unique American Irony
As Kasinitz shows, this is an ex-
traordinarily difficult task. Caribbeans
have always found themselves caught
in a painful, uniquely American irony;
the United States that allows them to
achieve a higher social standing eco-
nomically simultaneously devalues
them socially. This happens because
in America, all people of African de-
scent are grouped together as black,
with all the centuries of hostility, ha-
tred and institutionalized racism at-
tached to the term.
For those arriving from Caribbean
countries where virtually everyone-
from the president to the street-
sweeper-is "black" by American
standards, it is often difficult to make
sense of American racial realities.
Traditionally, aspiring Caribbean
politicians responding to the situation
took the easiest (and most American)
route to shaping West Indian immi-
grants into a voting block: they
appealed to race.
Thus, Barbados native Shirley
Chisholm, who represented Central
Brooklyn in Congress in the 1970s,
built a following by speaking for the
whole black community. The same
strategy was used for decades by
numerous other prominent Caribbean-
born political figures.
But Kasinitz documents how a few
far-sighted community leaders, recog-
nizing the changing demographics of
the late 1980s, delicately worked to
create political forums and news-
papers like the Carib that consciously
attempted to fashion a generic "West
Indian" identity based on common
immigrant experiences without frag-
menting into old inter-island rivalries.
The Ultimate Success Strategy
Last year's election of Una Clarke
to the New York City Council marked
the ultimate success of this strategy.
Clarke ran a campaign based on the
many island-based social and civic
clubs that dot the Central Brooklyn
landscape. These organizations were
shaped into a political apparatus that
triumphed over an African-American
candidate backed by Brooklyn's estab-
lished black political leadership.
As the first ever Caribbean-Ameri-
canmemberoftheCityCouncil,Clarke
r ~ h ~ ~ s e n t s a transition from race to
e . city as the basis for political
action for the immigrant community;
she has opened the door to a new style
of politics that Brooklyn's African-
American leaders will need to under-
stand if they intend to stay in office.
Years ago, the famous German
scholar Max Weber observed that "it
is primarily the political community,
no matter how artificially organized,
that inspires the belief in common
ethnicity." In New York, as Kasinitz
shows, Caribbean ethnic identity is
indeed something created by politi-
cians. Some might call it manipula-
tion, but in Central Brooklyn these
days, the process goes by a different
name: empowerment. 0
Errol T. Louis is a contributing editor
of City Limits.
Love Note (Send More!)
To the Editor:
I love your magazine! Please send
me one year's subscription. Many
thanks.
James Bradley
Brooklyn
More Fan Mail!
To the Editor:
Thanks for a superb August-
September issue. The cover story and
the articles about the Gowanus
Expressway and the new federal
transport funds were very well done.
In regards to the Gowanus re-
building, the state and city Department
of Transportation (DOT) apparently
views the reconstruction as a golden
opportunity to permanently increase
capacity on many western Brooklyn
streets, to accommodate even more
cars after the Gowanus is finished (if
ever). Fourth Avenue is seen as an
alternate route to Manhattan. If you
study the reconstruction that has
occurred at the intersection of Atlantic,
Flatbush and Fourth avenues in
downtown Brooklyn, the roads have
been widened, the sidewalks have
been narrowed, subway entrances
have not only been closed but removed
and the median strip down Fourth
Avenue has also been narrowed.
All of this reconstruction has taken
place at the very foot of the Atlantic
A venue Long Island Railroad terminal,
which sees heavy pedestrian traffic
every weekday. Walking around or
through this intersection was very
hazardous even before the recon-
struction.
This is all being done rather quickly
to prevent neighborhood groups from
organizing to stop it. The years of
planning and the half billion dollars
to be squandered on the cars-only
Gowanus rebuild instead could have
installed a two-track cross-Staten
Island light rail line that would travel
across the Verrazano Bridge, up the
G o ~ a n u s and through the Brooklyn
Battery Tunnel to Manhattan. Charles
Andreski, DOT Project engineer,
summarily dismissed this solution to
automobile congestion and pollution
as "too far in the future."
Wayne Fields
Editor, Auto-Free Press
Mobilize for Mass Transit Jerrold Nadler's district. How can I
help in lobbying for a wise use of
these transit funds? By the way, how
does the New York Metropolitan
Transit Council relate to the Metro-
politan Transit Authority? And is Peter
Stangl the disaster I think he is?
To the Editor:
I was interested to read Samme
Chittum's article, "Rough Traveling"
in the August-September issue. I was
especially interested in the pot of
money for mass transit. I've always
been a supporter of the Straphangers
Campaign and live in Assemblyman
I haven't got much time to give (and
zero money) but would like to be
mobilized in efforts to get some federal
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money into our starved transit system.
Youall do a terrific mag!
Kathleen Hulser
Manhattan
Editor's Note: The Metropolitan
Transit Authority is a member of the
New York Metropolitan Transit
Council. We'll decline to comment on
Peter Stangl's effectiveness. If you're
a member of the Straphangers
Campaign, that's a good place to start
to get involved with lobbying activity.
You can also contact Assemblyman
Nadler's office (496-1250) and Trans-
portation Alternatives (475-4600).
OH,S&@#!
To the Editor:
I wish to commend you on a
thoughtful article documenting the
New York Law School Nonprofit Organization Employee
Scholarship Program. Employees of nonprofit organiza-
tions in areas such as social services, arts, education, health
care, public advocacy, religion or philanthropy are eligible to
apply. As with all candidates for admission to the Law
School, those who wish to be considered for the Nonprofit
Organization Scholarship Program must have a bachelor's
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please contact New York Law School's Admissions Office at
(212) 431-2888.
positive role youth and youth centers
can play in potentially explosive
situations such as the recent events in
Washington Heights. By and large, I
believe that your article, "Stop the
Violence," by Andrew White (August-
September 1992) presented an
accurate picture of youth services and
correctly recognized the vast potential
uncovered by the unique role of
government under Mayor David N.
Dinkins, who has emphasized his
priorities for youth development
through the funding of youth leader-
ship, community organizations and
multi-service youth centers.
However, I wish to question the
quote which the article attributed to
me on page 12. Although I am under-
standingly indignant about the fact
thatthe state, following the governor's
recommendation, has cut the scarce
youth development dollars 38 percent,
the specific language quoted is not
mine. If I were to employ such pro-
fanity, it would be against the federal
government, which has never ever
funded youth development programs.
I certainly hope that your pub-
lication continues to follow and
evaluate these and other Safe Streets,
Safe City initiatives of the mayor as
they have impact in all geographic
Announcing the Biography Of
John Henrik Clarke: The Early Years
by' Barbara Eleanor Adams
T his biography of Dr. Clarke, Emeritus Professor of African History at Hunter
College, historian and writer, is the first book written about this African,American
educator.
T he son of sharecroppers, "The Early Years" covers his childhood in Alabama and
Georgia, migration to New York City (Harlem), meeting and association with Arthur
Schomburg and his budding career as a writer, together with selected speeches.
T he story told in his own words is recorded by Ms. Adams, who is a former
student. She is also the Manhattan Borough Director of the New York Urban League.
Publisher: United Brothers and Sisters Communications, Hampton, Virginia.
Paperback: $15. Hardcover: $25. (Allow six weeks.) For information call 212,926,8661.
32/0CTOBER 1992/Cnv UMrTS
areas of the city-not just those areas
that capture the media's attention.
Richard L. Murphy
Commissioner
Department of Youth Services
Andrew White responds: I marked
down in my notes the mischievous
smile Commissioner Murphy had on
his face when he referred to policy
decisions made by Governor Cuomo
and his staff with a profanity. "I'll get
it for that, " added the commissioner,
but he didn't retract the statement.
The commissioner expressed the
feelings of just about everyone I inter-
viewed who works with city youth.
There's no reason to let the governor
off the hook for budget priorities that
fail to live up to his rhetoric. No rea-
son but politics. And no state budget
for youth services next year without
politics, either, I suppose.
ADVERTISE YOUR JOB OPENING IN CITY LIMITS
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Deadline: The 15th of the month before publication.
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October 3, 1992
10 a.m.,2 p.m.
at the
Harlem State Office Building
For information call 212,234,2610 or 212,926,8000
SUPPORT SERVICES FOR NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS
Writing 0 Reports 0 Proposals 0 Newsletters 0 Manuals 0 Program
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The Park
and the People
A History of Central Park
Roy ROSENZWEIG AND
ELIZABETH BLACKMAR
" A masterpiece combining the
story of the park, the history of
New York, city and state politics,
and the people of the city."
-Library Journal.
"A fascinating study."
-Betsy Gotbaum, Parks
Commissioner, City of New York.
"The Park and the People contrib-
utes considerably to a richer
understanding of American culture
and the intricacies of a democratic
society."-Lawrence W. Levine,
University of California, Berkeley .
147 b&w illus. $35.00
Chinatown
No More
Taiwan Immigrants in
Contemporary New York
HSIANG-SHUI CHEN
By focusing on the social
and cultural life of post-1965
Taiwan immigrants in Queens,
this book shifts Chinese-American
studies from ethnic enclaves to the
diverse multi-ethnic neighborhoods
of Flushing and Elmhurst.
$37.95 cloth, $14.95 paper
Caribbean
New York
Black Immigrants
and the Politics of Race
PHn.IP KASINITZ
"Lucid and penetrating."
-New York Newsday.
Caribbean New York shows
how Caribbean immigrants are
reshaping American race relations
and explores the factors that
underlie some of New York City'S
explosive racial confrontations.
$39.95 cloth, $13.95 paper
Cornell University Press
124 Roberts Place, Ithaca NY 14850
At bookstores, or call 607-277-2211
CITY UMITS/OCTOBER 1992133
PROFESSIONAL DIRECTORY
Barry K. Mallin
Attorney At Law
A decade of service representing
community development organizations
and low income cooperatives.
72 Spring Street, Suite 1201
New York, N.Y. 10012
Telephone 212/334-9393
DEBRA BECHTEL - Attorney
Concentnting in Real Estate & Non-Profit Law
Title and loan closings 0 All city housing programs
Mutual housing associations 0 Cooperative conversions
Advice to low income co-op boards of directors
100 Remsen Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201, (718) 624-6850
*GET SOMETHING FOR NOTHING*
We print mailing lables for free by charging you
at most what we save you with postal discounts.
UPSS CASS FORM PROVIDED
Interested? Call us.
Talk is not only cheap but free.
212-741-2365
LAWRENCE H. McGAUGHEY
Attorney at Law
Meeting the challenges of affordable housing for 20 years.
Providing legal services in the areas of General Real Estate,
Business, Trust & Estates, and Elder Law.
21 7 Broadway, Suite 610
New York, NY 10007
(212) 513.0981
WILLIAM JACOBS
CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT
Over 20 years experience. SpeCializing In nonprofit housing &
community development organizations.
Certified Annual Audits Compilation & Review Services
Management Advisory Services Tax Consultation & Preparation
Call today for free consultation
77 QUAKER RIDGE ROAD, SUITE 215
NEW ROCHELLE, NY 10804
914-633-5095 FAX-914-633-S097
34jOCTOBER 1992jCrrY UMITS
TURF COMPANIES
Building Management/Consultants
Specializing in management & development
services to low income housing cooperatives,
community organizations and co-op
boards of directors
329 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11217
Rebecca Reich
718/857-0468
C ommUlllty D evelopmellt ~ g o l Asslstonce C elltel
o project of the lawyers Alliance for New YorIe, a nonprofit organization
Real Estate, Corporate and Tax Legal Representation to Organizations
Tax Syndications Mutual Housing Associations
Homeless Housing Economic Development
HDFCs Not-for-profit corporations
Community Development Credit Unions and loan Funds
99 Hudson Street, 14th Fir., NYC, 10013 (212) 219-1800
COMPUTER SERVICES
Hardware Sales:
286/386/486 Computers
Super VGA Monitors
Okidata Laser Printers
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Software Sales:
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Accounting
Utilities/Network
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Services: Network/Hardware/Software Installation,
Training, Custom Software, Hand Holding
Clients Include: Acorn, ANHD, MHANY, NHS of NYC
Morris Kornbluth 718-857-9157
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The Lawyers Your Organization Needs!
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employment relationship with a senior staff
member, let me talk to you about your rights and
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decision, the steps you should take to protect your
organization and the risks of litigation exposure."
295 Madision Avenue, NY, NY 10017212-986-7468
ASHOKMENON
Attorney at Law
Specializing in representation of co-op boards
co-op, condo & house closings commercial leases
purchase & sale of business & professional practices
wills & probates business immigrant visas
875 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 800
New York, NY
(212) 695-2929
COMMUtlITY OR6AJlIZER. Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy
Coalition seeks organizers to staff tenant and neighborhood efforts
for safe, decent and affordable communities in diverse, multi-ethnic
area. Lots of evenings, hours, and commitment required. Modest
pay and benefits. Spanish a +. Salary 18 to 20K to start, negotiable
w/exp. Send resume:NWBCCC, c/o Brien O'Toole, 103 E. 196th
St., Bronx NY 10468. (718) 584-0515.
DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS. Supervise senior level program
directors, oversee development of client services with residential
programs, act as key member of senior managemenUeam. Require-
ments: MSW or related degree, minimum 8 years senior level
experience, background in residential programs and AIDS or
similar services; proven record in program and budget development.
Salary: Low to mid 50s depending on experience. Comprehensive
benefits. GROTS WRITER/MAIIAGER. Requires a minimum three
years grant writing experience in related social service field, famil-
iarity with public funding applications a plus. Salary: To mid 30s,
depending on experience. Comprehensive benefits. Resumes and
salary history to: Donna L. Roberts, Human Resource Manager,
AIDS Resource Center, Inc., 275 Seventh Avenue, 12th Floor, New
York, NY 10001 . FAX 212-633-2932. Women and men of color,
lesbians and gay men and people living with HIV infection encour-
aged to apply. EOE.
PROPERTY MAUGER. The Brooklyn Neighborhood Improvement
Association seeks an experienced Property Manager.
Responsibilities: Property management of 190 units of low income
housing in Crown Heights. Supervision of personnel, maintenance,
rent receipts and disbursement journals. Produce reports as
necessary. Requirements: Strong background in building manage-
ment and supervisory skills. Salary negotiable. Resumes to Dr.
Salu, Executive Director, Brooklyn Neighborhood Improvement
Association, 648 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238.
lElAIIT RELATIOIS SPECIAUST/TElm OR6AJlIZER. The Cooper
Square Mutual Housing Association, an innovative project commit-
ted to preserve affordable, racially and ethnically integrated housing
in Manhattan's Lower East Side, is looking for an organizer.
Requirements: willingness to attend night meetings, bilingual written
and spoken English and Spanish, 2 to 3 years similar experience.
Salary: High teens to low 20s, plus benefits. Call 212-477-5340.
SOCiAl WORKERS. Community organization seeks two MSWs to
work with formerly homeless tenants and students ages 14-18 in
special in-school health-care curriculum program. Resumes to
Judy Turnock, NOI, 1650 Selwyn Avenue #8B, Bronx, NY 10457.
PROGRAM MUAGER, lEW YORK OFFICE. Maintain New York office for
San Francisco-based nonprofit low income housing financial
intermediary. Position requires loan packaging, working with
nonprofit developers to structure financing, fundraising, adminis-
tration. Salary range: mid 40's to mid 50's. Send resumes to: UHF/
CF, 605 Market Street, Suite 200, San FranCiSCO, CA, 941 05. EOE.
No calls please.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. Local not for profit seeks individual with
"affordable housing" background to assume the position of Executive
Director. Salary commensurate with degree of experience. Resumes
to P.O. Box 732, White Plains, NY 10602-0732. EOE m/t.
CASE MAUGER. Not-for-profit seeks case manager to provide
supportive services to formerly-homeless individuals and families
in the Clinton/Chelsea area. Requirements: BSW degree or higher
and/or previous experience. Spanish speaking is helpful. Resumes
to Sr. Georgette Lawton, The Partnership for the Homeless, 110
West 32nd Street, 8th floor, New York, NY 10001-3274. FAX 212-
477-4663.
PROGRAM DIRECTOR. The Funding Exchange, a public foundation
supporting progressive social change activism, seeks director for
national grants program. Responsibilities include: management of
grantmaking process, grants analysis and annual grants planning,
developing new grants initiatives, staff supervision, coordination
with other program areas including fund raising, development and
oversight of new projects for political education. Qualifications
include: 3-5 years experience with community-based social change
efforts, strong writing skills; experience with program planning,
implementation, evaluation and staff supervision; ability to work
with differences of class, race, sexual orientation, gender.
Competitive salary with good benefits. Send resume, writing
sample and 3 references to: Funding Exchange, Attn. GTS, 666
Broadway, Suite 500, NY, NY 10012. EOE/AA.
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CITY UMITS/OCTOBER 1992/35
Southside United Housing
Development Fund Corporation
Invites YouTo Celebrate
"20 YEARS OF REBUILDING"
Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of
LOSSURES
The Oldest Latino Operated and Owned
Housing Organization In New York City
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23, 1992
7. P.M., 12 A.M.
At the Polonaise Terrace
150 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn
$100 Per Person
(Discounted rates for community-based organizations, local residents and other nonprofit
organizations.) Includes dinner and refreshments.
Call Iris Cintron or Laura Hernandez at 718,387,3600
to obtain additional information.
Corporate sponsors:
Bankers Trust, Brooklyn Union Gas, Chemical Banking Corporation,
Atlantic Flintlock Joint Venture, Sparrow Construction