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S T A T E N I S L A N D S H R T E R A S H T O L E S S O N S F R O M C H I C A S O O A N T I - D I S P L A C E -
M E N T P R O J E C T O H O M E L E S S F O R T H E H O M E L E S S
2 CITY LIMITS February 1987
e;q L ; I f t ; ~ S
Volume xn Number 2
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vocating programs for low and moderate
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City Limits (ISSN 0199-0330)
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Editor: Annette Fuentes
A ociate Editor: Doug Thretsky
Editorial AIII.tanl.: Bettina Cohen,
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Contributing Editors: Peter Marcuse,
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COYer photo by Beverly Cheuvront
FROM THE EDITOR
Changing of the Guard
The New Year has 'begun brightly for your favorite urban news
magazine, with a growing readership and solid support from funders
who are investing in the future of this city's communities that are
profiled in our pages.
With the start of this new year also comes a change at City Limits,
as yours truly leaves and James Callaghan takes over as editor with the
March issue. Many of you may be familiar with Callaghan's fine reporting .
and stinging style in his writing for the ViJIage Voice. What you may
not know is that he is an award-winning journalist who rocked the
status quo and exposed corruption on Staten Island for five years as'
editor of the Staten Island Register. We welcome him to City Limits
where we know he will keep rocking the boat with the kind of fearless,
insightful and provocative reports from New York's neighborhoods that
our readers expect.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the state Division of Housing and
Community Renewal has just issued at press time its new report to the
governor on "Restructuring the Rent Regulatory System." Billed as an
attempt to address tenant concerns in the face of the affordable rental
shortage, the document has already raised the wrath of landlord interests
by calling for the permanent installation of the Emergency Tenant Pro-
tection Act. Instead of the state Legislature every two and three years
having to vote to continue rent regulations, the report recommends
establishing regulations for as long as a crisis exists,
Other recommendations to the governor include statutory tenancy for
rent stabilized tenants - a status now confered on rent controlled ten-
ants, eliminating lease renewals every two or three years. An anti-ware-
housing provision is also recommended, as well as rules on Major Cap-
ital Improvements rent increases that make six percent the norm but
allow some exceptions. A DHCR certificate to permit an eviction is also
suggested in cases of non-payment of disputed rents, owner occupancy
and faulty leases.
Reaction to this report from tenant advocates, like the document itself,
is mixed. The problem is not so much with what is in the report but
what's not. Small buildings of under six units, are still not included in
any rent regulations. Tenants in these units are under constant threat
of eviction in many neighborhoods, especially in Queens and parts of
Brooklyn. And while the report recommends creating one uniform reg-
ulatory system out of the four state-wide rent rules that exist, there is
no extension of rent regulations throughout the state. A long-standing
demand for the Rent Guidelines Board to look at landlord finances as
a basis for yearly rent increases, was also overlooked.
Many of the report's recommendations, in short, seem geared to
streamline the monstrously unwieldy bureaucracy at DHCR that has
bogged down the agency since it assumed control of rent regulations
in 1984. But cleaning up the administration of rent rules throughout
the state, while an admirable and necessary goal, does not a better rent
code make. The new law should be firmly grounded in the acute needs
of the city's and state's tenants, a large majority of whom have few if
any housing options but where they currently hang their hats. Keeping
people in place, decreasing the possiblity of harassment and homeless-
ness - those should be foremost in the minds of those who craft the
new law.OA.F.
INSIDE
FEATURES
Who Will Pay the Piper? Zoning for Justice 12
A city of the very rich and a city of the very poor,
New York faces increasing polarization but it could
be reversed with an inclusionary zoning policy, says
planning expect Peter Marcuse in the blueprint for
an equitable and just city.
DEPARTMENTS
From the Editor
Changing of the Guard .. ....... ... . . .. . . 2
Short Term Notes
Judge Okays Warehousing ............... 4
Pork'Barrel Sousing Plan ....... ... ... . .. 4
Reaching Kids in Howard Beach .. .... . ... 5
Free To Be Homeless .. ..... ... ...... ... 5
Neighborhood Notes
Bronx .. . .. . ...... .. ... ... .... .... .... 6
Brooklyn ............................. 6
Manhattan ... .. .... ... ... . ........... . 7
Queens . .... . . ... ... .. ..... ... ...... .. 7
Pipeline
Irony on Eighty-First Street .............. 8
Fighting Displacement in Loisaida . ...... 19
Community Profile
Shelter Unwelcomed on Staten Island . .. . 10
City Views
Lessons from Chicago: Bottom-Up
Strategies for Neighborhood Economic
Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Building Blocks
Winter Moisture Problems . ... ...... . ... 21
Reviews
All the Right Questions . . .. . ... ........ 22
Workshop ............................... 23
February 1987 CITY LIMITS 3
4 CITY LIMITS February 1987
SHORT TERM NOTES
JUDGE OKAYS
WAREHOUSING
A federal judge declared
unconstitutional an anti-
warehousing provision of the
city's law on single-room-
occupancy housing last
December, in a vidory for
owners and a blow to
advocates of this low income
housing resource.
The ruling was made on a suit
filed in July 1986 by four
plaintiffs who asked that the
anti-warehousing provision of
local Law 22 - the city's law
establishing a moratorium on
the conversion or demolition of
SRO housing - be declared
null and void on several
constiMional and
environmental grounds. The
anti-warehousing law prohibits
owners of SRO hotels from
holding vacant decen:,
habitable rooms in a move to
ameliorate the housing
shortage. Housing advocates
estimate some 25,000 units are
being warehoused city-wide,
including SRO units and
apartments.
The four suits were combined
into one by Justice David Saxe.
Co-defendants in the suit
include Seawall Associates,
owners of the Palmer and
Pennview Hotels in midtown;
459 W. 43 Street Corp. and
Eastern Pork Products Co;
Sutton East Associates - 86;
and ANBE Realty Company.
Justice Saxe handed down the
landmark decision in Asian-
American for Equality vs. Koch
that found unconstiMional the
Special Manhattan Bridge
distrid in Chinatown for failing
to address the housing needs of
low income residents.
According to Phil Schaeffer,
attorney for owners of the
Diplomat Hotel, one of the
plaintiffs, the suit "claimed it was
unconstitutional because it is
unreasonable. It makes people
go into a business they may not
want to and denies them a
reasonable rate of return on
investments." Other challenges
to the anti-warehousing
provision claimed only New
York State government has the
authority to prohibit
warehousing, and that renting
out warehoused units would
have a serious environmental
impad on neighborhoods-
mostly in Manhattan where
SRO's are concentroted. Justice
Saxe ruled against those other
claims.
Albert Fredericks,
Corporation Counsel attorney
who represented the city in this
suit, contends that "the
government is entitled to restrid
the use of property and profit
from it. It was a stringent law but
we felt there were two
standards: does it further a
legitimate public purpose? And
does it deprive a property
owner of all reasonable use?
We felt the crisis in housing and
homelessness called for it."
Intervening in the case as
defendents were several
organizations normally on
oppasite sides from the city on
housing issues and legal actions.
The Coalition for the Homeless,
the East and West Side SRO Law
Projects and the NY Civil
Liberties Union requested in
Odober to join the city's case as
interested parties. "There is an
obvious connedion between
the loss of SRO units and
homelessness. The city's own
statistics show it. It has always
been a housing source for
marginal populations," says
Mitchell Bernard, NYCLU
attorney. He says they intend to
appeal the decision but are
waiting for the city to introduce
a new bill on SRO housing to
supercede previous laws.
The anti-warehousing
provision of local Law 22,
which was signed by Mayor
Koch in July 1986, was slated to
expire January 31, 1986. In the
meantime, "we're in on
awkward period," says
Fredericks, as the city prepares
a comprehensive bill on SRO
housing, called Intro 646.
'We've been enjoined from
enforcing (the anti-warehousing
provision) since last fall. But
there will be a section in the new
bill. It will be more
defensible."DA.F.
Cindy Colter of the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board leading a di.cussion
on housinv development process. The discussion was part of a two-day Hou.inJi
Opportunities Program seminar co-sponsored by Chemical Bank and UHAB.
The Pragram, whicll includes $510,000 in grants made la.t June by Chemical.
helps c.ommunity graups develop low and moderate income housing.
PORK BARREL
HOUSING PLAN
The Koch administration has
announced a two-part plan to
renovate nearly 5,200
apartments in abandoned,
city-owned buildings in
Manhattan, the Bronx and
Brooklyn. Mayor Koch said the
plan - part of his ten year, $4.2
billion affordable housing
program-would "substantially
impad" on the housing supply
and heralded it as "the largest
such committment by a city in the
country."
While the proposal has been
billed as emphasizing housing
for low and moderate income
households, leading housing
advocates are critical of the
program saying it does not offer
enough for the poor. "They've
reversed their priorities," said
Bonnie Brower, executive
diredor of the Association for
Neighborhood and Housing
Development. ''The plan fails to
serve the population in greatest
need."
In the first portion of the
proposed program large
clusters of city-owned buildings
would be sold to private
developers and nonprofit
groups. Their renovations would
cover nearly 3,400 apartments
in 211 buildings. These
developers and nonprofit
groups would receive city
financing to the tune of nearly
75 percent for each unit. Interest
for the loans would be as low
as one percent. "Its going to be
a pork barrel," charged Jane
Benedid, executive diredor of
the Metropolitan Council on
Housing. "No housing owned
by the city should be given back
to private real estate because it
will once again be neglected,
bled dry and abandoned for
the city to take over again."
The apartments created
under this plan would be
affordable to households with
incomes between $15,000 and
$25,000, according to city
officials. Half ofthe units would
have two bedrooms and rent for
up to $700 per month. Only
237 of these renovations would
be for low income families.
The second part of the plan
involves the city hiring
contradors to renovate 1,800
apartments in 58 buildings on
two major sites in Harlem and
the South Bronx. Five hundred
and forty of these units would
be for the homeless, 810 for
households with a maximum
income of $16,000 and 450
would be for families with
maximum incomes of $24,000.
After the renovations, these
buildings would be sold to either
nonprofit groups or private
management firms.
The funds for this plan will
come from the Battery Park City
Authority, making it the first
proposal under the governor
and mayors Housing New York
Program.DAndy Lanset
REACHING KIDS
IN HOWARD
BEACH
A program to encourage
racial and ethnic understanding
in Howard Beach schools was
cut last summer, months before
the racial attack that ended with
the death of Michael Griffith.
According to Michael
McQuillen, head of Panel of
Americans which offers the
program, "we were told that
after eight years, it was time for
a change, that we weren't
needed any more."
McQuillen says that in a June
1986 conversation with school
District 27 superintendent,
Marvin Aaron, he was told the
Panel would only be authorized
to do its training program in one
junior high in Far Rockaway. The
Panel, a 40-year-old group,
had worked six years ago in
John Adams High School,
attended by the three youths
arrested in the racial violence,
but was cut after a year. The
Panel then continued its training
in two junior highs in the district
but was terminated completely
in the summer.
"1 asked for an evaluation of
our work in the junior highs,"
says McQuillen. ''The president
February 1987 CITY LIMits 5
Mike McQuillan, executive director of Panel of Americans:
The principal of Howard Beach'. high school .aid the Panel', race
re/a'ion classes weren', needed.
of the school board, George
Russo, said integration was
evident and there were no
racial problems."
Defending his decision to cut
the Panel's program, Marvin
Aaron says, "after eight years,
the board had decided the
priority of the district was
reading and math with our
limited funds." He insists the
Panel did a good job in the
junior highs, but strictly financial
considerations forced the end of
the training.
Russo, who became school
board president late last year,
was not fomiliar with the work
of the Panel when their program
was up for consideration. But
since the death of Griffith, he
says he will be "Iooking to the
curricula to change attiudes of
the young and break down
barriers. Certainly the most
pervasive attitudes are learned
at home, but school is the best
place to start." -
McQuillen reports that part
of the community resilience to
the Panels training stems from
the fear of being labled a
Mspecial needs case. Privately,
administrators say there are
racial problems, but the
tendency is to sweep it under the
rug until it
erupts. "OA.F.
FREE TO BE
HOMELESS
The director of the United
Nations' film commemorating
1987 as the Year of Shelter for
the Homeless wanted to portray
efforts to help the homeless in
three very different countries -
Sri Lanka, Brazil and the United
States. But United States Mission
officials complained, among
other things, that the
documentary did not address
the issue ofthe individual's right
to be homeless in America. The
New Yorlr nmes quoted an
unidentified former American
diplomat who charged, " .. .they
should bring the individual
rights element into the film - the
fact that these are peaple who
in some cases wish to stay on
the streets, roaming around not
solely because they have no
place to go."
Some officials pointed to the
film's ommission of homelessness
in the Soviet Union or other
Eastern bloc countries. Rose
Berstein, a spokeswoman for the
U.S. Mission brought that line of
reasoning into clearer focus on
the Today show when she
commented that it is illegal to be
homeless in the Soviet Union.
U.S. officials misrepresent
Soviet policy. Article 44 of the
Constitution of the Union of
Soviet Socialist Republics states,
"Citizens of the U.S.S.R. have the
right to housing" and goes on
to guarantee that right through
the maintenance of "state and
socially-owned housing."
Because of U.S. officals'
hardline attitude, scenes
covering self-help projects
sponsored by Habitat for
Humanity and the Urban
Homesteading Assistance
Board in New York City were cut
from the film.DD. T.
Community Organizer. Renovation Supervisor. Weatherization Coordinator.
Urban Housing Specialist. Community Management Director. Polley Analyst.
Housing Paralegal. Business Manager. Housing Director. Loan Arranger. Project
Director. Construction Specialist. Activist. Accountant. Housing Attorney. Execu-
tive Secretary. Energy Specialist. Assistant Editor. Executive Director. Activist.
These are just some of the positions-recently advertised in CITY UMITS. The advertising choice of
housing professionals in government, non-profit organilJitions and industry. Call 239-8440 to place
your ad.
CITY LIMITS JOB ADVERfISING GETS RESULTSe
6 CITY LIMITS February 1987
Bronx
Another Side of the Story
Recent media coverage of the issue
of the homeless has shown only com-
munity opposition to homeless shel-
ter projects. Absent from the hoopla
has been coverage of neighborhoods
where homeless projects have local
support, indeed where they have
been welcomed.
"The community invited us in," re-
ports Sister Barbara Lenninger, OP,
referring to the Thorpe Family Resi-
dence at 2252 Crotona Avenue.
Named for the foundress of the
Dominican Sisters of Sparkhill, a
community of religious women, the
Thorpe Family Residence will pro-
vide transitional housing for 16
homeless women with young chil-
dren. The plan, according to Sister
Lenninger, includes having two or
three Dominican Sisters living on
site. Assistance and training in home-
making and budgeting will be pro-
vided, along with academic tutoring.
The Sisters hope to have the women
out on their own four to six months
after coming to the residence.
The project to convert the aban-
doned, city-owned building into
transitional housing received $1.1
million from the state's Homeless
Housing Assistance Program, along
with grants from foundations and the
Dominican Sisters.
The Crotona Community Coalition
invited the Sparkhill Dominicans to
undertake the project at 2252 Crotona
Avenue after learning of the Sisters'
interest in sponsoring small commu-
nity-based shelters. Sister Lenniger
expects construction of the shelter to
begin in April and its opening is
scheduled for fall of 1988.0Lois Harr
Brooklyn
New Businesses in Flatbush
A block of Nostrand Avenue in Flat-
bush has a new look, thanks to an
unusual working relationship be-
tween a private developer and the
Erasmus Neighborhood Federation.
After standing vacant for nearly
eight years, a building on the block
between Linden Boulevard and
Church Avenue is now home to 14
new businesses, including a women's
clothing store, a discount shoe store,
an ice cream parlor and a jewelry
store.
"We were looking for ways to get
that building redone," said Rene Will-
iams, director of the Federation, "but
we could never find the right mix of
public and private money."
When the building was purchased
by Sella Properties, the Federation
took the initiative and approached
the firm with a study they had done
of community business needs. Im-
pressed by the group's ideas, Sella's
owner, Avi Raz, shared the blueprints
and sought advice on the building'S
design. Erasmus also helped choose
from among the more than 300 appli-
cations Raz received from local
businesses.
The result was a compromise be-
tween the needs of the developer and
those of the community. Raz said he
ended up spending more money than
he had originally intended, using dif-
ferent materials and adding more
stores. But he said the investment
was worth it. "The people at the Fed-
eration know what is good for this
area," he said. "When we look at this
area we think about what this block
used to be like 25 years ago. And we
think it can come full circle and be
a strong area again."
The total cost of the renovation
came close to $1 million, with the
Federation contributing $1,000 per
store. Williams said this type of de-
velopment is needed in Flatbush be-
cause there is so little open space left
to build on.
Is cooperation from private de-
velopers hard to find? "It's very rare,"
Williams said. She added that the
Federation plans to work with Raz to
redo the residential units still empty
in the building. The group hopes to
have 72 low and moderate income
apartments available by spring.
Arson in Boerum Hill
Fire alarms in the early morning
hours are becoming a familiar sound
to residents of Boerum Hill, where a
local housing group is worried about
a rise in arson in the neighborhood.
In the past two months, fires have
displaced 11 families in Boerum Hill
and nearby Park Slope, according to
Rosalie Rosario, a housing specialist
at the community group Accion
Latina. The most recent fire, on War-
ren Street, left six families without
water or heat for nearly a week.
"The fires are usually late at
Rosario said, "and sometimes there
is direct evidence of arson, like
gasoline on the walls. I'm afraid this
is a way to get rid of people in rent
stabilized apartments."
Figures from the Mayor's Arson
Strike Force tend to bear out these
fears. The number of suspicious fires
in the area covered by Community
Board 6 jumped from one in 1985 to
11 for the same month in 1986.
Accion Latina has been working
with local fire officials to find shelters
for families left homeless by arson.
Rosario said the recent renovation of
businesses along Smith Street has
helped quicken the pace of gentrifica-
tion in the area, pushing up housing
prices and increasing pressure on ten-
ants.
"Every day now we have someone
coming in to the office with a letter
from the landlord, telling them they
have to get out," she said. Accion
Latina is planning a housing confer-
ence to inform tenants of their rights
and help them be on the lookout for
signs of neglect and arson.
Baseball Stadium on Coney Is-
land
While the newspapers have been
asking everyone from the Mets to the
mayor about the idea of building a
new sports stadium on Coney Island,
residents of the area say they are being
left out in the cold.
At a recent homeowners meeting
sponsored by the Astella Develop-
ment Corporation, residents voiced
concerns about the affects the arena
would have on the neighborhood and
the deCision-making process which
seems to have passed them by.
"These things are being done with-
out anyone asking the people here
how they feel," said Spencine Hen-
dricles, a local homeowner and direc-
tor of Astella. She said many are wor-
ried about the increased traffic a new
arena would bring to the boardwalk
area.
The state Urban Development Cor-
poration has released a report favor-
ing development of a 15,000-seat in-
door arena and a 17,000- seat baseball
stadium along the boardwalk at
Coney Island's western end. But
many residents feel the proposed $58
million the arena would cost could
be put to better use.
"People here are very skeptical,"
said Erik Novak, a housing specialist
at Astella. "It seems an unrealistic
and insensitive proposal for an area
that's very needy."
For now, residents are also waiting
for the proposal to take shape, though
many are hoping the idea will fade.
The arena sounds great on the sur-
added Hendricks, "but urban
development sounded nice too and
that didn't help Coney Island
either. "OBarbara Solow
Manhattan
Which Way Westway
The release of the West Side Task
Force's final report on a Westway alter-
native reveals that the 15-year con-
troversy may be far from over. The
report calls for a roadway costing
more than $800 million and a thinly
disguised recommendation in sup-
port of what the Clean Air Campaign
described as "gold plated develop-
ment on the .Hudson." At issue con-
tinues to be the redirecting of West-
way trade-in funds amounting to $1.7
billion dollars and the construction
of landfill and platforms for extensive
waterfront development.
In a letter to Governor Cuomo, en-
virnonmental and community
groups have characterized the prop-
osal as "the wrong road to take," issu-
ing their own blueprint to end the
Westway quagmire. Several of these
alternatives include allocating the
full federal share of funds directly to-
ward the repair of the city's mass
February 1987 CITY LIMITS 7
transit system and a halt to efforts to
build landfill.
Although the Thsk Force report did
not contain explicit recommendation
for the use of landfills, it's call for
more "studies" has some civic watch-
dogs convinced this remains the city/
state objective for the site. "The state
has prolonged the Westway battle by
taking five of the seven steps they
need to take ... to get permits for expen-
sive, illegal, environmentally damag-
ing landfill and platforms in the West-
way area of the Hudson River," said
Marcy Benstock, director of the Clean
Air Campaign. "The last two remain-
ing steps are fisheries studies and
nailing down the immense public
subsidies required for this luxury real
estate development in the river-
which could take more than a billion
dollars from housing and other
cal city needs."
Critics have pointed out that the
cost of landfill development might be
paid for from future Battery ParI( City
tax bonuses, directly competing with
money committed to housing de-
velopment. The Task Force report
stated that construction of the high-
way could not start for five years, con-
tributing to excessive cost increases
and jeopardizing the use of the West-
way trade-in funds. Civic groups have
called for the construction of an
eight-lane surface highway, which
the Federal Highway Administration
estimated would cost $48 million in
1986.
Local Economic Development
The Valley Restoration Local De-
velopment Center, announced the
start of a $14.4 million economic de-
velopment project for a youth hostel
to be located on Amsterdam Avenue
and 103rd Street.The project, situated
on the site of a nursing home aban-
doned in1974, is the result of efforts
by the Manhattan Valley Coalition to
establish an economic development
project that would produce jobs with-
out creating displacement. When
completed in 1989, the formerly city-
owned property will include the hos-
tel, a restaurant and additional com-
mercial space. In what Valley Restora-
tion director Joe Center has charac-
terized as "unusual," the LDC will
continue to own the property and
lease the space. The project, which
goes "beyond business assistance" ac-
cording to Center, will provide about
180 jobs for local residents.oMary
Breen
Queens
Money for Nothing
Miriam Schaifer lives at 148-25
89th Avenue and she's pretty angry.
Angry enough to chance frustration
in Housing Court with a complaint
against her landlord Harry Partridge
Jr. of Michael Partridge Realty Co.
The Partridges, fast becoming
Jamaica's most notorious landlords,
received an Article 8A loan from the
Department of Housing Preservation
and Development in 1980 to install
windows, replace plumbing and the
boiler, make elevator repairs, fix the
compactor and lay a new roof. HPD
gave them $475,000, provided the
Partridges clear past building code
violations. A J-51 tax abatement was
also part of the deal.
So what's got Miriam Schaifer so
angry? For starters, heat and hot water
is lacking. There are leaks all over,
the building needs painting and the
elevator is frequently out of service.
And the windows, which were instal-
led by two tenants, are improperly
sealed causing condensation and
heat loss. So Schaifer is going to
court.
No Comment
For those following the ongoing
story of the Alpine tenants in Jackson
Heights, I present without comment
or correction, a letter sent to Joe
Reese, tenant leader, from Burton
Apat, landlord attorney.
Dear Mr. Reese:
I am in receipt of your lastest com-
plaint to Mr. Keown. While it is not
my intention to dignify your letters
of which I receive a copy of, I do wish
to point out that the mere fact that
you say it is so, does not make it so.
Please confine your statements to
the truth.
Very truly yours,
Burton J. Apat
And so goes the tenant struggle in
Queens.Olrma Rodriguez
8 CITY LIMITS February 1987
PIPELINE
Irony on Eighty-First Street
BY DOUG TURETSKY
TO C.J. HWU THE SITUATION IS
simple: the Neighborhood Coalition
for Shelter wants her out of her rent-
stabilized apartment. The Coalition
wants Hwu's ground-floor apartment
and that of her next door neighbors,
the Pan family, so it can expand ser-
vices to the homeless population the
organization serves. Says a frustrated
Hwu, "An organization for the home-
less is trying to make me one of their
numbers."
But to members of the Coalition,
the equation is more complex. "It's a
question of priorities," says Rev.
James Lodwick of the St. James' Epis-
copal Church, one of the members of
the Coalition. "In order to provide ser-
vices for some very low income resi-
dents at the bottom of the heap we
need the space downstairs."
C.J. Hwu in her $250 a month a"artment:
She'll leave if the Coalition finds her comparable space.
The Neighborhood Coalition for
Shelter, formed in 1980 primarily by
a group of Upper East Side churches
and synagogues, quickly moved from
coordinating services in the area to
becoming service providers. A major
goal was to find a local building the
organization could purchase and run
as a nonprofit residence for the home-
less. Eventually they found 211 E. 81st
Street, a 70-unit single-room occu-
pancy building with three ground-
floor apartments. They raised one
million dollars in a fund drive and
purchased the building - mortgage
free - in January, 1985.
The downstairs apartments and
most of the SRO units were occupied
when the Coalition bought the build-
ing. But the organization developed
plans for the downstairs - banking
on a Division of Housing and Com-
munity Renewal provision that al-
lows nonprofits to refuse to renew
rent-stabilized leases if the organiza-
tion wants to use that space in con-
junction with its charitable activities.
On April 19, just four months after
buying the building, the Coalition
notified C.J.Hwu her lease would not
be renewed.
Hwu filed a complaint with DHCR,
charging, "I think as champions for
the homeless, as they purport to be,
this act to evict me is rather ironic."
DHCR decided in Hwu's favor be-
cause the Coalition's answer to the
complaint was not received by the
Office of Rent Administration. The
Coalition has since filed a Petition for
Administrative Review and stopped
accepting Hwu's rent checks.
Hwu was not the only one losing
her residence. The building'S
longtime superintendent, Mary
O'Donnell, was forced to vacate her
apartment. After 20 years on the job
the Coalition "retired" O'Donnell and
gave her an SRO unit upstairs, for $39
per week rent. "I had to throw most
of my belongings on the street," com-
plains O'Donnell, adding that the Co-
alition refused to let her store her
posessions in the basement. Her new
residence in the building does not
contain a bathroom or kitchen, as did
her former apartment, which now
serves as the Coalition's office. "I
thought churches were better. I didn't
think they'd abuse you," she says.
O'Donnell would move out al-
together, but her Social Security pay-
ments cannot cover rental rates in the
community.
The Coalition's feud with another
tenant, George McDonald, chairman
of America's Homeless Political -Ac-
tion Committee, has led to a dis-
posess case in Housing Court.
McDonald admits he hasn't paid rent
to the Coalition - in fact there was
a disposess case against him from the
previous owner - but he claims
basic building services have been
continually lacking. According to
McDonald a recent example of this
landlord neglect are the showers on
his floor, which have not worked for
three to four months.
Good Intentions
Maureen Homenick, executive di-
rector of the Neighborhood Coalition
for Services, is by ques-
tions concerning the various eviction
cases. She would not comment on
any of the individual cases or re-
spond to any specific charges, saying
that the organization has a policy that
respects the confidentiality of deal-
ings with tenants. But Homenick did
add, "Some of it has to be understood
within the purpose and the vision of
the organization."
The founders of the Neighborhood
Coalition For Shelter have, from the
beginning, focused their efforts on
the growing homeless population on
the Upper East Side. The people the
Coalition serves generally require
more than just a shelter. "Not only do
they need a place to lay their head
but supportive services as well," ex-
plains Homenick. The Coalition
helps residents get entitlement be-
nefits from the government, offers
counseling and psychiatric help and
coordinates a five day per week lunch
and dinner program along wi th other
activities. Says Ann Davidson, presi-
dent of the Coalition, "We combine
as one organization the social service
provider and the management agent."
..
February 1987 CITY LIMITS 9
But that combination is where the they go home. That's the bottom line,"
Coalition may be running into charges McDonald.
trouble. David Stern, direc- Coalition members' eagerness to
tor of the Lenox Hill Neighborhood aid the homeless also influences their
Association and a former member of view of the ground-floor eviction pro-
the Coalition's board of directors, says ceedings. "These people could afford
there is a definite "problem with to live elsewhere. Our purpose is to
being both landlord and service pro- house people who are homeless," de-
vider." Stern points out that no mat- clares Jill Roberts, a Coalition board
ter how well-intentioned the Coali- member.
tion's efforts, someone must be an ad- Homenick and Davidson insist
vocte for the tenants. they will assist Hwu and the Pan fam-
Ellen Baxter, director of The ily find other apartments. Last Feb-
Heights, a nonprofit SRO residence ruary DHCR called Hwu and repre-
in Washington Heights, and another sentatives of the Neighborhood Coal-
former member of the Coalition's ition for Shelter to a conference.
board of directors, says tenant in- DHCR assistant counsel Stuart Mar-
volvement in the operation of the cus recalls suggesting that the Coali-
building is very important. "I think tion make an apartment for Hwu up-
it's critical to have an active tenants stairs. The Coalition balked, offering
association. " At The Heights, tenants her instead a standard SRO unit with
actually manage the building on no kitchen or bathroom_ Homenick
evenings and weekends. recently called Hwu to give her a
The Coalition runs their residence rental application for an apartment
much differently - going so far as to in a nearby building - a smaller
have tenants come to the office to than the one she now oc-
,;....--,;....---
Homeless advocate Geof'-e McDonald:
rite Neig"bor"ood Coal"ion lor S"e/,er is taking llim '0 Housing Court lor nonpayment of rent.
Up their mail. If a tenant needs some- cupies but with a lower rent. Hwu
thing fixed, he or she must fill out a was suprised by Homenick's call and
work order, and tenants must meet the claim that she's been looking for
with Homenick individually if they an alternative apartment since last
have any complaints. To George March. "Why was I never informed
McDonald, this is symptomatic of this was happening?" asks Hwu. "I
Homenick's running the residence thought I was being left in the lurch."
"by the book." McDonald believes the decision to
"We are wedded to the idea of evict the downstairs tenants is part
people leading a regular kind of life," of the Coalition's unwillingness to de-
says Davidson. But McDonald feels viate from their "master plan" for the
the Coalition is paternalistic and building. Rev. John McVean, vice
does not truly understand the needs president of st. Francis' Friends of
of those it intends to serve. "They've the Poor, which runs several non-
got a whole bunch of people running profit SRO residences, says his or-
the place who don't know what it's ganization does not expand its oper-
like to be poor. It's nine-to-five and ations by displacing current resi-
dents. "If there's a need for space we
wait."
Part of the Coalition's haste in pro-
ceeding stems from the renovation
project already underway. The group
secured $350,000 in Article SA
money and have another $200,000
committment from the Homeless
Housing Assistance Plan to under-
write the renovations - improve-
ments everyone agrees the building
badly needs. But renovating an al-
most completely occupied building
is a particularly difficult project,
especially for an organization with li-
mited building management experi-
ence.
Conditions in McDonald's room
are dismal. Exposed hot and cold
water risers and a ceiling fixture
dangling from the electric cable
dominate his six-foot-by-nine-foot
room. He also claims that plans to
install a new sink will make it impos-
sible to open the door with a bed in-
side. Hwu complains that it took two.
months to repair damage to her apart-
ment after a pipe ruptured upstairs.
Despite her dispute with the Coal-
ition, Hwu says, "What I think they're
trying to do for the homeless is great."
But she's confused by the group's in-
sistence upon converting her apart-
ment to social service space in a city
squeezed for low-rent housing. "If
they wanted to put in a homeless fam-
ily it would make a lot more sense to
me."
While advocates for the homeless
agree that more nonprofit residences
are needed, some warn that being a
nonprofit does not guarantee being a
good landlord. Saralee Evans, direc-
tor of the West Side SRO Legal Ser-
vices Project, is defending McDonald
against the Coalition's eviction. She
believes nonprofit building managers
have an added burden. "If they're
coming in as the good guy, if they are
being conceived of as the answer to
the problem, they really do need to
be held to a higher standard, " she
comments.
Hwu also questions the Coalition's
standards. "What they're doing may
be legal , but for a church group it's
certainly immoral. They can't sit on
both sides of the fence."
But to Rev. Lodwick, the evictions
are necessary. "I think it's a difficult
decision, " he says, "but I think it's
the right one."D
10 CITY LIMITS February 1987
COMMUNITY PROFILE
Shelter Unvve/coll1ed
on Staten Island
BY BmlNA COHEN
NEWLY DEVELOPED BAY ST. LAND-
ing, a complex of waterfront con-
dominiums, glitters white as a sparkl-
ing diamond on the shore of st.
George, Staten Island. The Manhattan
skyline, straight across New York Har-
bor, highlights the condos 'desirabil-
ity as fashionable dwelling places.
Roberta Edelman, 20 year resident
of 108 Central Ave. in St. George, is
proud of the new development but
sees the upscale entry into the resi-
dential area threatened by a different
kind of development nearby. "We
have Bay St. Landing over on the next
block. Do you think we want some-
thing like that here?"
The object of Edelman's ire is a city-
run shelter for 35 homeless families,
which has been proposed for her
neighborhood. The designated ad-
dress of the shelter would place it
literally in the backyard of the Edel-
mans' three-story home.
tor participants to finance the pur-
chasing and rehabilitation of vacant
properties. The city, through the De-
partment of Housing Preservation
and Development (HPD) or local
neighborhood development corpora-
tions, could use these rehabilitated
properties to accomodate the home-
less - one or more families to a build-
ily sheltered, under each individual
roof, would cost the city only $710.32
per month.
Chamber of Commerce Communi-
cations Director, Marc Muscaro, says
that a draft of this proposal, as well
as a list of vacant buildings on Staten
Island, was sent to HPD Commis-
sioner Paul Crotty, in July. "We never
received any acknowledgement,"
Muscaro says. But HPD spokesper-
son Charles Perkins claimed not to
be aware of the proposal.
Muscaro says he wanted to avoid
such a failure to communicate, so he
On March 16, 1986, the Human Re-
sources Administration announced it
would be opening a new emergency
shelter at 100 Central Avenue in St.
George. The City Planning Commis-
sion and the Board of Estimate both
then gave their approval, on Sep-
tember 17 and November 6, 1986, re-
spectively. All but one Board vote was
for the project, with no abstentions.
Still, a question remains as to
whether HRNs plans will proceed as
scheduled.
Marc Muscaro in front of 100 Central Avenue and the Edelman.' home:
The main point of contention lies
in the city's method of compressing
a capacity crowd into one building.
Members of the Staten Island
Chamber of Commerce have prop-
osed instead a scatter site arrange-
ment and have outlined the details
in an alternative housing proposal.
"We would not take any position
on opposing sheltering homeless
people unless we had an alternative
proposal that was more humane and
more economically feasible" says
Robert J. Fitzsimmons, one of the
proposal drafters. Fitzsimmons is a
local realtor and member of the Sta-
ten Island Chamber of Commerce.
The proposal calls for private sec-
"Th. proposa' is not ditched," says Muscaro.
ing, but with a seven family
maximum. Private investors would
be reimbursed by the city over fifteen
years on the terms of a capital lease,
after which the city would take title.
The total financing required by a
developer is estimated by the plan's
proponents at $162,000, including in-
itial purchase, legal and renovation
costs. The 15 year lease, refunding
this debt in the equivalent of
mortgage payments at 11 percent in-
terest, breaks down to $460.32 per
month, per apartment. Added to that,
the city also would pay the developer
for carrying charges - costs for insur-
ance, taxes, water and sewers,
utilities, management and repairs-
currently placed at $250.00 per
month. Using these estimates,
monthly expenses for keeping a fam-
handed a copy to Ken Murphy, Direc-
tor of Crisis Intervention at HRA, in
the late summer. As of January 1987
Muscaro reports "We've had no re-
ponse from Murphy or anyone else at
HRN' in regard to the proposal.
HRA spokesperson Suzanne
Trazoff "couldn't say" if anyone at
HRA received a copy, but she was
familiar with the proposal and com-
ments, "Scatter-site housing is differ-
ent," from the emergency shelter
HRA has designed for 100 Central
Ave. "These are families at the point
of crisis. How do you provide ser-
vices?"
Controversial Subjects
But even Trazoff concedes that,
"From the community's point of view,
the scatter-site approach is better."
February 1987 CITY LIMITS 11
City Council Member Abe Gerges was well established before becoming a
more succinct: "City shelters stink." welfare hotel two years ago. Patel did
Gerges, chair of the Select Committee not face any community flak at the
on the Homelessness, said of the case time of the changeover because, he
in St. George, "Here is a perfect exam- says, "The only way for a community
pIe of how the executive branch gets to oppose something is when it
into problems with the com- opens. Nobody can oppose me be-
munities." He was encouraged by the cause the hotel is legal, but still, they
scatter-site proposal and said, "It complain. People must be complain-
seems to me the city should be sitting ing on and off about me."
down discussing it." Such complaints result in frequent
Not without controversy, it was the summons for violations at the Hotel
Stalen Island Borough President, Richmond. Patel says, "The city
Ralph Lamberti who cast the single doesn't give me a hard time. People
dissenting vote on the shelter prop- give the city a hard time for nothing."
osal at the Board of Estimate. Lam- In viewing the opposition to the
berti's press secretary, Bob Huber, emergency shelter, he asks, "What
says the Borough President "does will the city do? The city has to put
support the Chamber of Commerce them somewhere. These people are
proposal and endorses it. Lamberti people, even the homeless, too."
has spoken repeatedly of the need for Exorbitant expense is cited by shel-
the city to renovate abandoned build- ter opponents as a secondary concern
ings. " Huber doesn't approve of the in their fight. HRA has agreed to pay
city's shelter plan, believing, ''A large . a total of $1.9 million to Elias Kali-
shelter is not going to solve anything. mian, owner of the medical arts build-
A slophouse landlord - that's what ing. Robert Fitzsimmons had three
the city is going to become." Further, outside real estate appraisers con-
he says housing the homeless is "a duct evaluations of the property. All
burden society ought to bear, but bear three concluded that the actual value
equitably." He adds Staten Island is is substantially lower than the $1.7
willing to accept responsibility "com- million HRA agreed to in an option
mensurate" to its size, but, "not 20 to buy. There is also the $200,000 al-
percent of the city's homeless popula- ready paid to Kalimian for a license
tion." agreement. All this brings the total
But community opposition to the price HRA will be laying out at about
shelter may have other roots. As As- double, or, $1 million more than the
sistant Director of the Open Housing value estimated by local realtors.
Center, Phyllis Spiro has had past ex- Tony Fuschetto, sales representa-
perience with "straight out racial dis- tive for Master Real Estate, Inc. of Sta-
crimination" from Staten Island real ten Island, submitted 100 Central in
estate agents and developers. The response to a New York Times ad for
Open Housing Center monitors hous- buildings for city agencies in January
ing discrimnation against minorities last year. Fuschetto comments of
and religious groups. Responding to HRA's price, "That's what the owner
the thought that members of the Sta- wanted" for thelroperty. "Real estate
ten Island Chamber of Commerce are on Staten Islan is high priced. That
willing to sponsor low-income hous- amount doesn't seem exorbitant to
ing, Spiro, drew attention to a reputa- me."
tion for insularity, and warned, "I
would be very cautious about any- Threat of Diminished
thing Staten Island says." She also is Property Values
openly skeptical of any proposal that Many of those familiar with the
calls for the private sector's money area's rejuvenation over the last sev-
where no profit is involved. "I'd have era 1 years fear a congregate shelter
to see it with my own eyes," Spiro here will have an adverse affect. They
says. predict residents and small busines-
Kanti Patel, owner of the Hotel ses will move away, in response to
Richmond which is located just up the threat of diminished property
the block from the proposed shelter values.
site at 71 Central Ave., can attest to Attempting to halt the shelter, the
St. George's preference for gentrified Staten Island Chamber of Commerce
affluence. The Hotel Richmond was and Community Board One filed suit
against HRA in the Supreme Court of
Staten Island. The only borough with-
out a city shelter, Staten Island con-
tends that HRA's environmental im-
pact study was a one-dimensional as-
sessment of the situation, meant only
to smooth the way for a troublesome
project. Community Board One had
already voted against the facility on
July 29, fulfilling phase one of the
Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.
A suit was filed immediately follow-
ing the hearing on November 6 at
which the Board of Estimate ap-
proved of the plans.
The case first came before Judge
San Giorgio on December 5, 1986. It
has been in court now a total of four
times, and granted as many stays, the
last one on January 13. This last post-
ponement was at the request of both
sides.
Remodelling of the site has been
temporarily terminated while the
stay is in effect.
Returning to the issue of dispersal
housing as an alternative to a congre-
gate shelter, Marc Muscaro ac-
knowledges that some proponents of
low-income housing have criticised
the Staten Island Chamber of Com-
merce for not pursuing their proposal
with sufficient vigor. He remarks that
"The Chamber voted to continue op-
posing the shelter, but they never did
come to any agreement on how to pro-
ceed."
Muscaro also adds, "The proposal
can be tailored" to address the im-
mediate demands of families at the
point of crisis. The requirement that
it provide transitional housing rather
than permanent could be fulfilled. "It
should be explored and worked on,"
Muscaro says.
Fitzsimmons and Muscaro are frus-
trated by the city's disinterest in their
scatter-site approach to a mounting
crisis. Challenging allegations that
Staten Islanders have considered this
housing arrangement only for the pur-
pose of pre-empting plans for the new
facility, Muscaro responds emphati-
cally: "The proposal will remain ac-
tive until 100 Central Ave. is filled. It
needs money, and it needs support
from a reluctant city." Still, there is
the option of going ahead and doing
it anyway. "We want to take in one to
four families just to show the city it
can be done, and without opposi-
tion."O
12 CITY LIMITS February 1987
FEATURE
Who Will Pay the Piper?
Zoning for Justice in New York City
BY PETER MARCUSE
I
nclusionary zoning is long over-
due in New York City. In San Fran-
cisco, in Boston, in cities in New
Jersey, the idea that developers of
profitable, market-rate housing
should also provide some below-mar-
ket housing for lower income people
has become an innovative policy. In
New Jersey the courts have ruled that
it helps fill a constitutional mandate
that zoning be used to benefit all the
people, not just the prosperous. Be-
cause zoning calls for
low-cost housing in connection with
new developments, it counteracts
segregation at the same time as it pro-
He'd like the Trump To_r life:
Inclusionory zoning demands luxury developers also meet the needs of poorer residents.
duces affordable housing.
In the absence of governmental sup-
port , this zoning approach provides
subsidies from within the private
housing system, from developers and
landlords; to users and tenants, and
from richer users to poorer users. And
instead of bribing the market with
juicy developer incentives to meet
lower-income housing needs, in-
clusionary zoning makes that an obli-
gation of those doing well in the mar-
ket.
Inclusionary zoning has just been
officially put forward for considera-
tion by the Planning Department of
the City Planning Commission. But
it is packaged so as to split those that
would normally support it. Develop-
ers would be allowed to build to a
density up to 20 percent higher than
the law now allows in communities
where people feel densities already
are too high.- It gives poor people very
little additional housing, and at that
only the higher income among the
poor. Instead of being an obligation
on developers, the proposed zoning
really benefits them since they make
a higher profit by using the provision
than if they don't. Low income hous-
ing is likely to be caught in the cross-
fire between developers and com-
munities and the whole idea die in
the process. It's too bad, because the
concept is good.
Zoning for Integration
Everybody knows there are at least
two New York Cities: the city of the
rich and the city of the poor, the city
of the white minority and the city of
the "minority" majority, the city of
Lower Manhattan and of the southern
Bronx, the city of skyscrapers and the
city of old law tenements and three
family wood frame houses. Nobody
seems to want it that way, yet it hap-
pens anyway. Why? Can anything be
done about it? Will anything be done
about it?
Why is easy. Divisions exist be-
cause that's the way the private real
estate market works: where lots of
people with money want to live,
prices will go up and the poor will
be driven or kept out. If jobs, trade,
finance and government are all clus-
tered in one area, that's where people
will want to live (or nearby, where its
particularly attractive, like Brooklyn
Heights). Race and sex discrimina-
tion accentuate these trends. Govern-
ment can make things worse: if the
city improves conditions in
downtown Manhattan but cuts ser-
vices in the boroughs, if it invests in
42nd Street but not 125th Street, if it
gives tax breaks to middle and upper
income housing but lets its own low
rent housing stock deteriorate, then
the tale of two cities is reinforced.
Can anything be done about it? Yes.
If the City - and that means the city
government - wants to do some-
thing about it. It could invest most
money where there's the most need
instead of where there is the most
profitable activity on. It could
upgrade run-down neighborhoods so
that not just people without choice
would want to live there. It could pro-
vide top-notch public education for
all, so all would have a more nearly
equal chance at good jobs and good
income. It could provide good local
transportation in each part of the city,
not focus on commuters' needs. It
could subsidize decent lower priced
housing in all parts of the city. It
could do many things. But all these
things cost money; so the city is slow
to do any of them on a scale that
would really matter.
Inclusionary zoning is something
the city can do that doesn't cost any
money. As originally conceived, it
would require private developers of
. higher priced housing to put up some
February 1987 CITY LIMITS 13
The Planning Department's report states, "the program is de-
signed to be economically advantageous to the developer."
lower priced housing, too. If develop-
ers want to build 60 luxury co-ops
or rentals, they would have to put up
20 (or some specified number) that
would be rented to lower income
people at prices they can afford. The
units would have to be provided in
the same building, but can't be segre-
gated or marked off so the occupants
are stigmatized. The units should be
rented out on the basis of need, with-
out discrimination or prejudice.
The result of such zoning is that
the luxury units will have to rent or
sell for a little bit more. There's no
free lunch. If the market won't stand
the higher price, then sooner or later
land costs will have to come down.
If higher rents can't be charged, de-
velopers can't pay as much for land
and landowners will have to come
down on their prices. Not such a bad
idea, anyway. Land prices in desira-
ble areas are sky-high, not through
any actions of the landowners, but
because the city's economy has de-
veloped that way. It's no injustice if
landowners have to limit their price
increases a little to maintain an integ-
rated city along the way.
about munity: rising residenUal., and
zopingis commercial rents, _ ctwaee of
it racial
)'fO(:e88 .
In.,. ;@tmunities. Incl'llfij
tlieir .: c ':: m.eans develope!-
clear, at ltlfJ the negative ey Dl'C.cIwce
posiUons,% ,,1; in a neighborhoOd. .e. MOad ugu...
",M ment is that "Socio-economit"
housing zoning has long been'lUltJl tq
tome "Deneftt tie the war out .of subutbs;NdW tit
as a zonibg bontls proposal is simply to use it to ..
more toW some of the poor stay in theC8lJtrtl1
_ ... __ low income city. ' '"
is that,jf ". $
ben,efit, it tIlfY' ", Low cost .,.lJlftJ'Ciiticm
_lefit ali meetiD.g4l!;f' could be required' oywmv",toOIu
If tion where it's
lolv inl:ome eV8rytJne a fair ...... ;.
!:;!C
t
'
/ IIIlQWlIg allows. de- lanced collUlllunity. I" nllrR ... -
in return ttl ilion the New
the city in the Court took in
avaifable .l0 I4l.urel case and a New
the conserva- took in a Chinatown suit,
and the one the city % Americm:rs for Equalityjzvs.
ordinance. .... ') The city l$ appealit\g thedecisioa
;":;"I, bu,t i<it i,upheld,
has the. """ Iil.V8 to
for the gene >''ithout bonu ..
requires
R
com b
codes, health The zoning proposal shouldJit
height get hung up in legal teChnicalities
not also have before it's even adopted. A simple
aowming occu- solution might be to include bOth
_amily it will cost a de- mandatory provisiO.p$J,ltor ,SOIne
so will each of situations, bOnuses for others ad
tt' ..... l4Un:nellbw The nar.. a "separability" ClaU80j$O til one
construe- part is temporarily Utld "!::P in court.
densities, other parts could continue to be
bWi'd.81lS a ... eQWt ,'<',
...
14 CITY LIMITS February 1987
Inclusionary zoning means units should be rented out on the
basis of need, without discrimination.
The City Planning Commission,
pushed by community groups and in-
dividuals (the late planner Paul
Davidoff prominent among them, and
the Pratt Center for Community and
Environmental Development) and a
stalwart few of its former members,
has been thinking about inclusionary
zoning for quite a while. A panel the
mayor appointed over a year ago to
look at the idea could have made a
real contribution but ended up waf-
fling. What the Planning Department
is now selling looks like a half-
hearted attempt to mollify propo-
nents while the details almost
guarantee that it will never be
adopted, calming the fears of those
that oppose inclusionary zoning.
The central problem with the city
proposal is density. If developers are
encouraged to provide lower rent
units but at the same time allowed to
build more higher priCed units than
what zoning normally allows, then
developers won't object. For them, it's
simple arithmetic: will profits from
the extra high priced units cover the
costs of the lower rent units, or not?
If they project greater net profit,
they' ll do it; if they don't they won't.
So the Planning Department has care-
fully calculated the plan so develop-
ers end up making more money by
doing good than by not; $10 a square
foot is the extra profit they make on
every square foot of low income hous-
ing they provide, according to the De-
partment. Their report states, "the
program is designed to be economi-
cally advantageous to the developer."
Developers may like that bonus, but
the communities in which they're
building won't. Zoning is meant to
protect communities, to make sure
densities aren't too high, that light
and air are adequate, traffic canmove
and a livable residential environment
prevails. Now the city is saying de-
velopers can break those rules if they
do a little for poorer people too. They
can build 30 story buildings where
zoning only allows 25. So the city is
offering to trade bad zoning for a little
low rent housing instead of working
to both preserve good zoning and
create affordable housing.
The plan wouldn't produce much
lower rent housing, either. Actually,
about one square foot for poor people
for every four square feet by which
they exceed zoning, is the way it's
structured. "Poor people" is really a
misnomer; for a family of four, qual-
ifying incomes would be $21,750, yet
half of all four- person renter house-
holds in the city earn less than
$14,220 (Census; 1983). At best the
new zoning could yield 300 units of
low income housing a year. The lower
rent units won't be well integrated
with the new because developers
have the option of providing them
within a half mile or anywhere in the
Community District, whichever is
further.
What will happen is clear. People
in the communities where this will
be effective (Community Boards 4,6,
7 and 8 in Manhattan) will object. If
25 stories is the right height for their
neighborhoods, they will say, then
keep it that way and don't give
bonuses. Developers will object too.
They will want more than 30 stories
to make such a sacrifice and provide
low income housing on others' be-
half. They'll say make it really worth
our while or we won't do it. And low
income housing supporters, faced
with a proposal that doesn't give
February 1987 CITY LIMITS 15
them so much to begin with and that _
does it at the expense of communities
they'd rather work with than against,
may well sit it out. So the proposal
will go down in smoke.
Hold-out on Lexington Avenue:
Resident of old brownstone forced luxury de.,e/oper to build around her home.
It will be a shame, because the idea
only needs a few minor changes to
make it really serve the interests both
of the communities where it will be
used and of poorer people. The
biggest change is simple: make in-
clusionary housing a requirement for
building within the zoning require-
ments, not for exceeding them.
Broaden the application of the idea
so it applies, not just in a handful of
high density areas, but all over the
city. Then toughen the requirements
for where, and how long, and at what
incomes. Developers will object, of
course, and less will be built momen-
tarily while they try to get the require-
ment repealed. If it sticks, though, de-
velopers will build again, just as they
did before, and they' ll house people
of all incomes, not just the well-to-do
as they do now. Then we will have a
package really worth fighting for and
a fighting chance to build one city on
a foundation of simple justice and
equity.o
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16 CITY LIMITS February 1987
CITY VIEWS
Lessons from Chicago: Bottom-up
Strategies for Neighborhood Economic
Development
BY JOHN OKUN
CITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY
face a similar problem: booming de-
velopment in some parts of the
municipality, disinvestment in
others. From Seattle to Jersey City,
San Francisco to Boston, local offi-
cials are experimenting with ways to
link luxury housing and commercial
development rights to the economic
needs of poorer communities. "Link-
age programs" that tax new
downtown development are part of a
variety of proposals designed to help
pay for affordable housing, economic
development and other citywide ser-
vices.
While most existing linkage prog-
rams do little to ensure long-term
economic health outside a city's
downtown area, Chicago has begun
to craft a series of innovative "bottom-
up" strategies designed to fuel
neighborhood development through-
out the city. Chicago's efforts spell a
significant break from traditional
local economic development
policies.
Such policies usually focus on
growth-related programs encourag-
ing real estate development and in-
creased land prices. These capital in-
tensive approaches use large expen-
ditures to build office buildings,
hotels and similar structures without
making dynamic investments in the
community. By funding an "anchor"
project, local officials hope to spur
additional private sector develop-
ment. Other traditional policies seek
to attract companies looking to relo-
cate and promote industrial growth
through tax breaks. These public
policies tend to support powerful, es-
tablished interests, which have little
concern for addressing critical bar-
riers to economic development in
poor communities.
Bottom-up economic development
programs, on the other hand, help
create self-reliant, locally-based
Chicago Mayor Harold Washington at opening of small engineering consultancy:
Ery, Inc. is first woman-owne" busine .. to receive city and stat. funding in
II/inois.
businesses in low income neighbor-
hoods. They stress self-employment
through worker or community owner-
ship, emphasizing adequate wages
and benefits, decent working condi-
tions, stability, job control and oppor-
tunities for upward mobility.
The Chicago Plan
Since the early 1970's a variety of
Chicago neighborhood organizations
have been developing technical assis-
tance and advocating the expansion
of bottom-up economic development
and housing strategies and programs.
These organizations, such as the
Center for Neighborhood Technology,
the Save Our Neighborhoods/Save
Our City Coalition and the Chicago
Workshop on Economic Develop-
ment, have sought to increase partici-
pation by businesses and citizens in
Chicago's poorer communities like
North Lawndale, Woodlawn, West
Town and elsewhere by advocating
programs and legislation that divert
public and private resources from
such wealthier neighborhoods as the
Loop, Lincoln Park, Lakeview and
Near North Side. Their efforts played
a large role in the 1983 election of
Mayor Harold Washington, whose ad-
ministration has worked with these
neighborhood coalitions to craft a set
of innovative, equity-oriented prop-
osals for funding and implementing
bottom-up economic development
strategies and programs.
The blueprint for Chicago's
strategy is the city's 1964 Develop-
ment Plan, which outlines strategies
to increase job opportunities for dis-
advantaged Chicagoans, to promote
balanced growth by encouraging in-
vestments in outer neighborhoods, to
use private sector expertise to help
neighborhood development, and to
increase public participation in the
decisions about how economic de-
velopment funds are spent.
A 1985 Mayoral Advisory Commit-
tee on Linked Development discus-
sed a linkage fund to extract revenues
from downtown development and
channel them to active, successful
neighborhood employment and
economic development organiza-
tions and programs. The Chicago De-
partment of Economic Develorment
(DED) is promoting a variety 0 loans
for start-up and existing businesses
headed by low income people,
minorities and women. One loan
program, for example, would provide
these businesses with working capi-
tal at low-interest rates and favorable
repayment terms.
A key component of Chicago's bot-
tom-up development programs is first
source hiring agreements to ensure
that the city's most needy residents
benefit from the jobs downtown de-
velopment creates. Any employer
who receives a publically subsidized
grant or loan or who is involved in a
commercial project which has city
financial participation would have to
use the Mayor's Office of Employ-
ment and Thaining (MET) as a "first
source" of employment referrals for
any new jobs created.
As important as innovative employ-
ment and training and enterprise
financing programs are for promoting
neighborhood enterprises, strong
purchasing agreements by a city are
also necessary. The Development
Plan has set a goal of making half the
city's purchases from Chicago-based
small businesses, 30 percent of
which must come from companies
owned by minorities and women.
Bottom-Up Funding
Many of these new and expanded
economic development activities
February 1987 CITY LIMITS 17
No work here:
Spaces 'ik. this may be rip. for ,mall, community-owned businesses.
would be largely financed by a prop-
osed linkage fund. The fund would
have several revenue sources: a real
estate transfer tax, a use tax on com-
mercial space, an exaction fee on new
development and zoning incentive
fees.
Conservative estimates by the Ad-
visory Committee say these linkages
would generate more than $26 mill-
ion annually. The real estate tax
would produce $4 million. The use
tax on commercial space - an an-
nual 10 cents-per-square-foot charge
on all occupied office and commer-
cial space in the city - would collect
an estimated $17 million annually.
The exaction on new development, a
one-time, $2 per square foot charge
on new office development of more
than 50,000 square feet and an annual
$2 per square foot for the first five
years of occupancy, is expected to
yield almost $5 million a year. The
yield from zoning incentive fees had
not been determined at the time of
the Advisory Committee's report.
The use tax and exaction fees have
stirred up the fiercest political oppos-
ition. The Chicago Association of
Commerce and Industry (CACI) and
Commercial Club of Chicago argue
that the office market is too soft to
withstand these taxes and that they
will backfire and spur rapid suburban
office construction and job growth in-
stead. "We have talked to developers
and those who have done major re-
habs, and they say that an additional
$10 a square foot [the average exac-
tion fee] can kill a deal," Sam Mitch-
ell, president of CACI, has said.
But a recent study by Northwestern
University contends that Chicago is
"riding an unprecedented $10 billion
wave of downtown construc-
tion ... with 160 public and private
construction projects undertaken be-
tween 1979 and 1984 resulting in $4.5
billion in investment." Private sur-
veys during that period placed
Chicago's average office vacancy rate
at only 10-11 percent, while such
boom towns as Houston and Denver
were experiencing average rates of 16
percent and 20 percent respectively.
Moreover, a $10 per square foot differ-
ence in annual rents has existed bet-
ween Chicago's central business dis-
trict and some of its suburbs for the
past seven years, coinciding with the
city's unprecedented wave of de-
velopment.
Many of Chicago's bottom-up plans
have yet to get off the ground. One
reason is the ongoing rivalry between
Mayor Washington and Chicago
Council President Edward Vrodlyak.
Developer and real estate groups such
as CACI, who have produced a minor-
ity report arguing against linked de-
velopment, have also stymied propos-
als.
Some pieces of the 1985 Mayor's
Advisory Committee on Linked De-
velopment and the 1984 Chicago De-
velopment Plan are already in place,
though. Many developers have volun-
tarily begun sharing technical exper-
tise with community economic de-
velopment organizations and local
businesses. Elements of the first-
18 CITY LIMITS February 1987
source hiring program are in place,
too, and 73 percent of MET referrals
have been hired with generally favor-
able employer response. Most impre-
ssively, since 1984 over 60 minority
contracts worth over $150 million
have been negotiated, compared to
only nine such contracts during
former Mayor Jane Byrne's four-year
tenure. And the city estimates that
bottom-up economic development
programs have already helped create
over 30,000 private sector jobs.
Is New York Next?
Chicago's Commissioner of
Economic Develoyment, Robert Mier,
sees four politica ingredients neces-
sary for successful linked and bot-
tom-up development programs: the
goals of the program must be sup-
ported by the chief elected official;
the city must be willing to bargain
with the private sector; the city must
help neighborhood-based groups de-
velop the organizational capacity and
resources they need; and the city
must foster citizen input into deci-
sions about spending economic de-
velopment money.
A city also needs a fairly strong
commercial office market capable of
providing substantial economic re-
sources. New York City certainly fits
this economic profile. Our commer-
cial real estate market is and will con-
tinue to be strong enough to provide
adequate resources - office vacancy
rates are about 7 percent downtown,
compared to a 16.5 percent national
average.
New York City is also in a financial
position to make a greater commit-
ment to neighborhood economic de-
velopment through other forms of lin-
kages. For example, the city offers be-
tween $500 million and $2 billion
worth of contracts annually, clearly
an amount large enough to include
more purchasing agreements with
low income, small and minority
businesses, along with more first
source hiring.
What the city government needs is
the political will to tax development
and direct the revenues to bottom-up
neighborhood economic develop-
ment programs. To start, the city
needs independent real estate market
studies, such as those conducted by
Northwestern in Chicago, to accu-
rately assess just how much taxation
of downtown development is possi-
ble before construction declines,
rents go up, and vacancy rates in-
crease.
But studies are not enough. The
political goals and organizational
structure and process of New York
City's economic development agen-
cies and neighborhood-based de-
velopment organizations must be
changed. Most neighborhood organi-
zations today are financially tied to
the city through contracts that limit
their roles to managing city-owned
property or administering city com-
mercial revitalization projects. Ac-
tual economic development
strategies are almost exclusively
aimed at retaining existing industries
or revitalizing commercial areas. And
while these strategies do create new
shops and improved neighborhood
facilities, they usually don't provide
high-wage, permanent employment.
Taken together, these current
policies limit equitable economic de-
velopment in neighborhoods and pre-
vent neighborhood agencies from ac-
cumulating the expertise and re-
sources they need to help create loc-
ally owned, permanent businesses
and jobs with adequate wages and be-
nefits.
Despite these barriers, successful
low income, minority start- up enter-
prises in industries such as textiles
and printing do exist. They provide
substantial on-the-job managerial
skills training and upward income
mobility. There is also substantial
growth in a variety of labor-intensive
service and non-durable manufactur-
ing industries, such as health care,
office cleaning, energy conservation
and weatherization, recycling and
business information services. These
businesses can be successfully oper-
ated in low income communities
employing local residents. Organized
democratically, and given entrep-
reneurial and financial assistance,
many of these traditionally low-pay-
ing industries and occupations could
provide higher wages, better benefits
and managerial skill development for
the poor, minorities and women.
A few examples of successful com-
munity economic development pro-
jects already exist that could inspire
organizing of a neighborhood
economic development coalition.
The Community Service Society's
start-up of the worker-owned
Cooperative Home Care Associates
and the East New York Local Develop-
ment Corporation's light industry
projects are two models of successful
neighborhood economic develop-
ment(see City Limits April 1986). The
Coalition for Neighborhood
Economic Development, comprising
over 30 local development groups,
successfully lobbied the state legisla-
ture for commercial liability insur-
ance legislation and $3.5 million for
the Urban Development Corpora-
tion's Minority and Women-owned
Business High Risk Revolving Loan
Fund.
The most promising long-term,
city-wide prospects for greater com-
munity participation in - and
neighborhood control over -
economic development decisions
are through expanding community
planning boards' role in the budget-
ing process. Although community-
based budgeting can sometimes repli-
cate existing inequalities in the dis-
tribution of public resources - and
does not guarantee that capital im-
provements are used for neighbor-
hood economic development - this
process can enable local develop-
ment corporations and community-
based organizations to participate in
the community planning board and
city budgeting process. For example,
the local development corporation in
East New York has been able to use
the community-based capital budget-
ing process to playa meaningful role
in reversing disinvestment in the sur-
rounding community.
But without a comprehensive bot-
tom-up economic development
strategy and funding from revenue
garnered from downtown municipal
development, these successes will re-
main limited and isolated rather than
becoming viable models for balanced
development in neighborhoods
thrOUghout the city.o
John Okun is a graduate student in
urban planning at Hunter College. He
recently completed an internship at
the Community Service Society's
Center for Community Economic De-
velopment.
February 1987 CITY LIMITS 19
PIPELINE
Fighting Displacetnent in Loisaida
BY PEG KAMENS
THE LANDLORD OF 238 EAST 7TH
Street wants the tenants out. They are
mostly low income Hispanics and he
offered them from $5,000 to $7,000
to leave. Repairs and maintenance of
the building have stopped and ten-
ants' rent checks have been rejected
for four consecutive months and vac-
ant apartments are being warehoused.
It's not an unusual story on the
rapidly gentrifying Lower East Side,
where rents have skyrocketed in re-
cent years. A one or two bedroom
apartment on Avenue A that rented
for around $175 three years ago now
fetches up to $950. At current rent
levels, the money the landlord of 238
East 7th Street is offering tenants
wouldn't last them long. Their fate
would probably be like many others
from the neighborhood who have
doubled-up with their families, been
forced out of the community, or be-
come homeless.
But Lower East Side residents are
now digging in against the forces of
displacement. "This neighborhood
has a good record in demonstrating,
raising hell and getting things done,"
says Nilda Pimentel. Last October,
Pimentel helped launch the Lower
East Side Anti-Displacement Project
and now serves as its executive direc-
tor. The project's office is located on
East 11th Street, a quiet tenement
block peppered with abandoned
buildings, shuttered storefronts, vac-
ant lots and new, very chic art gal-
leries. It's a block that epitomizes the
Nilda Pimentel in Anti-Displacement Project office:
"We plan to work wi'" tenants, not for "'em," .lte say .
changes sweeping the neighborhood. neighborhood groups over an effec-
A January 1986 meeting between tive anti-displacement policy had
representatives from St. Marks bogged down. "The Community-
Church in the Bowery and the Lower Board had made anti-displacement
East Side Catholic Area Council (LES- part of its three-point plan, but the
CAC) got the Anti-Displacement Pro- city was dragging its feet. So we de-
ject underway. LESCAC's Carol Wat- cided to do something on a modest
son, one of the meeting's attendees, level. It's not expected to stem the
had seen low income parishioners tide, but we wanted to demonstrate
gradually displaced from the area's that preventative action works," ob-
private housing stock. Local homes- serves Watson.
teading efforts and public sector The project will focus on Loisaida,
housing could not keep pace with the an area that falls between Avenues A
increasing flood of displacement. and D, stretching from 14th Street to
Negotiations between the city and East Houston-the section of Com-
Subscribe to CITY LIMITS
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you 'U save $5 off the cover price.
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20 CITY LIMITS February 1987
munity Board 3 with highest concent-
ration of low income residents and
in rem buildings. Over 300 vacant
buildings in the area are testimony to
an earlier phase of the displacement
cycle, when landlords left the low in-
come housing market through arson
and abandonment. But the Lower
East Side is hardly a wasteland. "The
Lower East Side is not a vast expanse
of vacant property. There are many
tenants in private buildings filled
with low and moderate income
people, tenants who will be forced
out unless action is taken," explains
Watson. Now that the area has be-
come attractive to more affluent
people, landlords and developers are
employing new tactics to encourage
remaining low income residents to
move out.
Working Together
The tenants of 238 East 7th Street
are just one group the Anti-Displace-
ment Project has begun to work with.
"We plan to work with tenants, not
for them," explains Pimentel. "We
will be facilitators, teaching tenants
to be activists. We will teach them to
negotiate with their landlords and
how to work with the city rent laws."
A basic part of the Project's strategy
is to reach tenants at an early stage,
=before a crisis develops. "We want to
educate people so they recognize the
early warning signs, and work with
tenants before it's too late," em-
phasizes Watson. Project organizers
have already started to meet with ten-
ant groups and local parishes to dis-
cuss the displacement process and
tenants' rights.
A long range goal of the program
is to organize a local tenants' union.
Project staff would train union mem-
bers to lobby, conduct letter cam-
paigns and encourage them to come
together in town meetings and local
forums.
Pimentel also plans to work, along
with other local and citywide groups,
through the budget and legislative
process. The organization will study
laws from other cities to prevent dis-
placement and will push for their
enactment. Proposals include estab-
lishing a local enforcement unit staf-
fed by representatives of city agencies
charged with enforcing anti-displace-
ment laws already on the books.
Another plan calls for an anti-dis-
placement district: developers
within the district would have to set
aside apartments for low income
people.
Suprisingly soft-spoken, Pimentel
is a seasoned political activist and
tenant advocate. She has coordinated
voter registration drives, local school
board elections and chaired the
Lower East Side Political Action Com-
mittee-a three-year-old group
promoting political participation by
low and moderate income people in
local elections.
Thus far the Anti-Displacement
Project has raised $54,000 for its ac-
tivities and four person staff. They
hope to raise enough money to hire
an attorney as well.
Community activists welcome the
Project's attempts to keep low income
housing on the Lower East Side.
"We're dealing with an area with lots'
of displacement," comments Harriet
Cohen, a neighborhood resident and
activist. "Other groups are develop-
ing housing or will organize in re-
sponse to a crisis, but don't reach out
in a consistent sort of way."
Bill Klukiw of the Cooper
Square Community Development
Committee is also enthusiastic. "It's
a welcome addition to the housing
effort on the Lower East Side, spon-
sored by good groups who have been
actively involved in the area for a long
time. We can expect good things to
come from them. "0
Peg Kamens is an attorney and writer
living in Brooklyn.
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NEW YORK, N.Y. 10001
(212) 279-8300
Ask for: Bala Ramanathan
February 1987 CITY LIMITS 21
BUILDING BLOCKS
Winter Moisture Problems
actually worsen a condensation prob-
lem by keeping the air temperature
between them and the window sur-
face cooler than the room air. Thermal
shutters or shades are carefully con-
structed to prevent moisture-laden
air from reaching the window surface
and to reduce the loss of heat.
IN APARTMENTS OR HOUSES,
indoor humidity levels during the
wintertime can range from being very
low, when dry skin and static electric-
ity are problems, to being very high,
when excessive condensation forms
on windows, walls, and in closets,
often supporting the growth of mil-
dew. In either case, humidity levels
can be adjusted to make the living
environment more comfortable.
Q: What does "relative humidity"
mean?
A: The term, relative humidity, refers
to the amount of moisture in vapor
form that air can hold before it be-
comes saturated. For example, air
with a relative humidity level of 30
percent contains only 30 percent of
the moisture it is capable of holding.
The warmer air is, the greater its po-
tential to hold moisture.
Q: What is the relationship between
outdoor and indoor levels of relative
humidity?
A: Like heat, water vapor moves from
areas of high concentration to areas
of low concentration. The driving
force behind this movement is vapor
pressure. In a house or apartment
with many air leaks to the outside -
through cracks around windows,
doors and openings in siding mater-
ials - moisture-laden household air
will be lost to the outside and re-
placed with colder, drier air. When
this dry air enters a living space and
becomes heated, its potential to hold
moisture increases. Consequently, it
absorbs moisture from wherever it
can get it. In contrast, weather-tight
units without adequate ventilation
can experience the opposite situa-
tion. Moisture-laden air can cause
condensation to form on windows,
walls, in closets, and in attic spaces.
Q: What is a desirable level of indoor
relative humidity during the winter-
time?
. A: In a recent study of humidity and
the growth of bacteria, viruses and
other micro-organisms, researchers
concluded that an optimum range of
relative humidity for human health
is between 40 and 60 percent. As a
general rule, a recommended range
of indoor relative humidity is be-
tween 40 and 45 percent.
Q: What can be done to make air
which is too dry more comfortable?
A: Air becomes too dry when cold,
outdoor air seeps inside. Theoreti-
cally, it is possible to control the entry
of outside air with weather-tighten-
ing techniques, such as caulking and
weatherstripping. But extensive reno-
vation is often required for this meas-
ure to substantially effect the rate at
which air is exchanged between in-
side and outside. In some cases, then,
humidification is desirable.
Q: In houses and apartments with
high humidity problems, where does
all the moisture come from?
A: Principle sources of moisture in a
house or apartment are activities that
take place within it, such as cooking,
cleaning, bathing and showering,
clothes-washing - any moisture-
producing activities. In fact, the aver-
age household of four is estimated to
produce between 3 and 6 gallons of
moisture per day. Other common
sources of moisture are crawl spaces
or basements with exposed earth
floors or concrete floors installed
without moisture protection. Poor
site conditions and broken or faulty
gutters and downspouts also contrib-
ute to possible water and moisture
sources.
Q: What can be done to prevent exces-
sive condensation on windows dur-
ing the wintertime?
A: Raising the surface temperature
where moisture condenses, by ad-
ding storm windows or a layer of plas-
tic to single pane windows, or by in-
stalling wall insulation, keeps those
surface warmer and more resistant to
condensation.
Q: Can draperies help to reduce win-
dow condensation?
A: Unless the edges of draperies are
sealed against the window frame and
the drapery material itself is impervi-
. ous to air and moisture, draperies can
Q: Can air-to-air heat exchangers re-
duce condensation problems?
A: An alternative to exhaust fans for
ventilation is the use of an air-to-air
heat exchanger. This is a device that
recovers heat in outgoing stale air and
uses it to warm fresh, cold air coming
into a building. But certain heat ex-
changers, called enthalpy models,
will do little or nothing to solve mois-
ture problems, because they allow
moisture to pass into the fresh air
stream. These exchangers should be
avoided if excess moisture is a prob-
lem.
Q: What can be done about condensa-
tion and ice build-up between win-
dow and a storm window?
A: Condensation occurring between
a primary window and a storm win-
dow is an indication that moisture-
laden household air is somehow get-
ting between the layers of glass. If
sashes on a double-hung window rat-
tle easily, or if a dollar bill can slide
easily between the sashes, sealing
measures are required. Weatherstrip-
ping is recommended if the windows
are to remain operable, or caulking
compounds can be used if the win-
dows can be sealed.
Cornell Cooperative Extension has
a number of Housing Fact Sheets on
many aspects of moisture control.
Some available titles include,
"Household Moisture Problems in
the Wintertime," "Vapor Retarders in
Residential Buildings," "Construct-
ing and Installing Thermal Shutters
and Panels," "Selecting a Humidifer,"
"Selecting a Dehumidifer," and "How
to Prevent and Remove Mildew." For
copies of these and other Housing
Fact Sheets send a self-addressed,
stamped envelope to: HANDIVAN,
Cornell Cooperative Extension, 280
Broadway, Room 701, New York, NY
10007. Mention City Limits, January
1987.0
22 CITY LIMITS February 1987
REVIEWS
All the Right Questions
Critical Perspectives on Housing,
edited by Rachel G. Bratt, Chester
Hartman and Ann Meyerson, Temple
University Press, 1986, 631 pages,
$14.95 paperback.
BY KlAN TAJBAKHSH

..

A HOME IS OFTEN A CONTRADIC-
tory place. On the one hand it is a
commodity, produced and sold for
profit. But on the other hand having
a place to live is a basic human need,
irrespective of one's ability to pay.
This contradiction is at the root of
the nationwide housing crisis.

Critical Perspectives on Housing
sets out, as the editors state, "to ad-
dress the root causes of the nation's
housing crisis." Their objective is to
represent a radical alternative to lib-
eral and conservative views on hous-
ing problems, which seek solutions
in new legislatio"n. The authors of the
33 chapters in this book all see hous-
ing as a basic right to be fought for,
not something needing a legislative
fix.
There are four main themes that
run throughout the book. The first
three-the house as a commodity,
the role of the State, and strategies
for change-correspond to the three
sections of the book. The fourth
theme - the question of class - is
hardly discussed but underlies all the
others.
The contradiction inherent to the
home as a commodity is the subject
of the first section of the book. The
contributors analyze how this effects
such issues as homelessness, the na-
tional finance system, suburbaniza-
tion, rent control, housing for immi-
grant labor and for minorities. The
approach is always critical, if not al-
ways explicit: the reasons for the ina-
bility to provide adequate shelter for
everyone is rooted within the system
that organizes housing as a commod-
ity. Each article examines the way the
system uses commodification of
housing to solidify the nation's class
structure.
The expansion of the federal gov-
ernment's role in the housing mar-
ketplace is analyzed in the second
section. Reevaluating the role of the
"benvolent State," the authors ques-
At the root of the crisis:
Homes serve as both shelter and commodity.
tion the government's emphasis on
housing within a of forces
that are connected with the produc-
tion, distribution and consumption
of goods and services as well as the
use of public money to finance pri-
vate housing production. The result,
suggests the authors, is that the State
ensures the continued accumulation
of private capital and in the mean-
time underscores the legitimacy of
that system. This has important im-
plications for how we view public
housing and housing subsidies as
well as for targeting political
strategies for change.
The last section of the book looks
at such strategies, examining sweat-
equity programs, squatting, rent
strikes, public vs. community owner-
ship and the experiences of tenant
movements in the U.S. and in coun-
tries including Cuba, Britain and
Sweden. All the chapters in this sec-
tion are concerned with learning
from the past in order to best use the
different approaches in the future.
One of the key points is the need for
strategies to be assertive. Kathy
McAfee makes this point forcefully:
"The landlords say rent control will
put them out of business? Well, if they
can't provide decent housing at rents
we can afford, why should we allow
them to remain in business? Let's
start working on a better way to run
housing."
While the book covers a breadth of
issues, there are a number of
shortcomings and ommissions. Just
one article-on architecture and
sexism-explores the subject of
women and housing. Other topics
needing examination are the-relation-
ship between the housing and ecol-
ogy/natural resources movements,
psychological and ideological con-
siderations of "shelter," and the con-
nections between tenant and labor
movements.
Another problem is the inability to
clearly distinguish between factors
that cause the housing crisis and
those that exacerbate it. This is criti-
cal because of the need to see the
struggles over injustice in housing as
part of a wider struggle over social
injustices. As Michael Stone points
out in one of the best articles , ... the
private housing market can be sub-
stantially eliminated without under-
mining the the basic institutions of
the existing system." As experience
in the U.S., Britain and Sweden
shows, if the social institutions are
not changed as a whole then all the
gains made in one sector can easily
be lost. There should be a clear con-
nection between the house as a com-
modity and the social processes that
determine and organize housing as a
commodity.
Nonetheless, this is an impressive
collection, well organized, coherent,
always critical enough to be useful.
Not only does it offer new and diffe-
rent answers to our housing prob-
lems, but more importantly, it poses
different questions. For anyone who
is thinking of buying one book to
cover the major housing issues, this
may well be the one.D
Kian Tajbakhsh is an urban planner.
WORKSHOP
HOUSING SPECIALIST. Community Law Offices (Volunteer Di-
vision) of the Legal Aid Society seeks committed, energetic per-
son to assist tenant associations represented by Housing De-
velopment Unit. HDU does work in upper Manhattan north of
96th St. Its staff consists of 4 attorneys, 4 housing specialists,
and 1 organizer. Responslbllltles:Building management train-
ing and assistance to tenant managed buildings; accounting
assistance to tenant associations during rent strikes; litigation
preparation and assistance; and housing advice to walk-in
clients. Night meetings a must, Spanish helpful but not required.
Salary:Up to $19,880 including overtime and benefits, as per
1199 union contract. Send resume to: Housing Development
Unit, Community Law Offices, 230 E. 106th St., New York, NY
10029. No calls.
POSITIONS AVAILABLE AT I.C.E. Join dedicated staff that
works for economic justice and integrates political values with
personal lifestyle. The Institute for Community Economics assists
community-based groups across the country in efforts to secure
land, housing and capital to meet the needs of low-income
people. Open positions include: Technical Assistance Provid-
ers, Administrative Director/Business Manager, Writer/
Editor, Media/Marketing Coordinator, Revolving Loan Fund
OffIcer, and Secretary. Salaries are modest and based on need.
Write: Coordinating Team, I.C.E., 151 Montague City Road,
Greenfield, MA 01301.
February 1987 CITY LIMITS 23
CHANGE
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__ COMMUNITY JOBS_-
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580A GATES AVENUE BROOKLYN, NEW YORK 11221 (718)453-2406
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(212) 741-7920, Ext. 61
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The New School's Graduate School
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