Ben Carson, one of the most interesting characters in the story of the 2016 presidential election and who is now Pres. Trump’s head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), visited a boiler and the apartment of Geraldine Harvey at the NYCHA Queensbridge Houses yesterday. He asked Harvey if NYCHA was doing a good job responding to her concerns, and, writes the New York Daily News, she said the managers are “fairly responsive.”
Carson was in town to meet with Mayor de Blasio about NYCHA, one month after a federal judge rejected an agreement between City Hall, NYCHA, HUD and the Manhattan U.S. attorney to have a federal monitor oversee the city’s public housing system of more than 400,000 people. The judge compared the problems at NYCHA to “the biblical plagues of Egypt.” Carson recently gave NYCHA until January 31 to come up with an action plan to address the problems with, reports the Wall Street Journal, “management, lead paint, mold, lack of heat, broken elevators and vermin issues,” which sounds like lyrics from “The Message.”
(I didn’t have my own photo of QB on hand and my Google Maps street view wasn’t working so I used a Wikipedia pic for QB, but if you want to see my less serious concoction, look below.)
The first thing City Council Speaker Corey Johnson wanted the crowd to know was that he is openly HIV positive and has been sober for nine years. The first thing Council Member Costa Constantinides wanted us to know was that the school we were in, P.S. 171, is getting solar panels that he allocated from the city budget.
Unlike the mayor’s town hall I went to in LIC last year, there wasn’t a line outside when I got there. I was only 15 minutes early but the auditorium did fill up eventually. Someone asked if I RSVP’d, and I wondered who actually does that.
Constantinides listed funds he brought to Mount Sainai Hospital and the library and other things which I didn’t write down. He said Johnson is not just a colleague but “really is my friend.” CoJo in return said Constantinides is “a leader who really gets it.” He said his colleague, chair of the environmental committee, brought $26 million to west of 21st Street, including the $2.5 million for the solar panels.
In the midst of the city’s lead paint crisis at public housing communities, New York 1 has dug up some test results and Ravenswood Houses made its top lead-list in a survey. The TV station studied more than 900 results of lead paint tests from late 2016 and early 2017. Nearly half of those apartments tested positive. Some housing developments on the whole stood out, including Ravenswood, with 17 lead-positive units. The New York Daily News recently found that since 2012 more than 800 kids five and younger in NYCHA tested high for lead-blood levels.
In the last week, three people were shot, each in the leg, in separate incidents at Queensbridge Houses, the Astoria Postreports. The victims were 25, 32 and 35 years old, each shot outside, two in the dark AM hours, one in the daytime. Though none of the shooters were identified*, the precinct says there are five identified crews (small, hyper-provincial gangs) at Queensbridge, four at Ravenswood Houses and two at Astoria Houses. Astoria Postpreviously reported the precinct stating there were 10 shootings this year just through June 17 (before these recent three) and most were on NYCHA property.Continue reading “Shootings galore at NYCHA in 114th Precinct”
At a public hearing for a couple of rezoning proposals for potential apartment buildings in lower-west Astoria and Long Island City Thursday, the question seemed to become how new, not-so small developments with mostly market-rate housing will lend to the future of the neighborhood.
Community Board 1 held the hearing at the NYCHA Ravenswood Houses, between the two sites of interest. One proposal is for rezoning 11-14 35th Avenue at the corner of 12th Street from commercial to mixed-use so that United Crane and Rigging would be replaced by an eight-story building with 74 residential units and retail at the base. (For some perspective, the Ravenswood Houses across 12th Street are six stories tall.) In the other, Variety Boys and Girls Club is proposing to replace its existing building at 21-12 30th Road along 21st Street with a larger club space attached to a 14 story apartment building. The apartment building, owned by a yet-to-be-identified developer, would pay for the club’s expansion. Continue reading “Rezonings for new apartment buildings on 21st Street, 35th Ave get heard out”
Sure, it’s getting warmer. But a political battle over the heating system at the Astoria Houses got more complicated this week. Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres, who chairs the oversight and investigation committee (he formerly chaired the NYCHA oversight committee), published a report claiming that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration will be to blame for six more “heating seasons” (somehow that translates to three years, apparently) with boiler problems at the Astoria Houses. The New York Daily News, in a January 29 story on citywide Housing Authority boiler issues, featured the Astoria Houses:
“While all four permanent boilers at the Astoria Houses were up and running, they were barely able to heat the building to 68 degrees. And while some developments have a redundancy — an extra boiler that kicks in if one fails — Astoria doesn’t.”
The Torres report follows the admin’s decision last November to cancel $43.5 million in financing from the Housing Development Corporation towards the Durst Organization’s 163-unit, affordable housing building, planned for the Astoria Houses campus as part of its Halletts Point mega-development. (This was supposed to be a way for NYCHA to profit from some of its land.) The deal involved Durst paying for boiler repairs at the Astoria Houses. Politico last week said the city “disputed” that pulling the finances was part of a feud after de Blasio listed Durst as an example of a campaign contributor that didn’t receive a favor: in this case, not winning a contract to run the East River ferry.
“There was a leading real estate developer and campaign contributor who wanted the contract for our new citywide ferry service. His proposal was good, but the City agency involved thought another one was better. He didn’t get the contract.”
After that op-ed, a Durst spokesman said, “Winter is coming.” Douglas Durst had also financed lawsuits against de Blasio-backed Pier 55 on the Hudson River.
A few notes:
State Senator Michael Gianaris makes case for gun purchase background checks.
I stalked Councilman Jimmy van Bramer today. Well, for five minutes I swung by the annual black history month celebration at the Jacob Riis Settlement at Queensbridge. I stood quietly in the back and noticed there was lots of free food. JVB honored a whole bunch of people. Here’s a whole list of them. What I heard sounded like a tribute to people making their community a great place by doing things such as anti-violence work.
Old news: A few days ago Councilman Costa Constantinides announced he’s officially going through with making over Steinway Street: he wants there to be mid-block crosswalks and a plaza. But I’m… not sure when and how? And he doesn’t seem to be sure where this plaza will be. Too bad no one reads this yet. I’d say, post your opinion on where the plaza should go.