Another Dangerous Pandemic Move For NYC Homeless

On Friday January 7, 2022, the New York City Department of Homeless Services will be again moving houseless people from a hotel in Manhattan to a hotel in Queens during a raging pandemic endangering their lives. This is irresponsible and incredibly dangerous considering the transmissibility of Omicron, the latest mutation of Covid-19.

Notice given to houseless clients only one day before their move.

A resident has informed me that Mentally Ill Chemical Abuse (MICA) clients and non-MICA clients will be housed together at their new location, City View Inn, in Long Island City Queens. New Life Shelter, a congregate shelter run by nonprofit Institute for Community Living, was formerly at 78 Catherine Street but clients were moved in 2020 to the Doubletree by Hilton located at 128 West 29th St when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

There seems to be no explanation as to the move while clients aren’t given enough notice to prepare, both physically, emotionally and mentally. If City View Inn is a hotel then why does one of the notices state it is a “congregate dorm”?

Dionne Vega can be reached at (212) 701-4820 dvega@dhs.nyc.gov. Let them know how you feel about this dangerous move.

Unnecessarily endangering people while New York City currently accounts for  more than half of the more than 11,000 COVID patients hospitalized statewide shows that NYCDHS doesn’t care whether the people in New Life Women’s Shelter live or die.

Stop The Towers of Doom!

Towers of Doom

The Problem

  • An LLC wants to build two out-of-scale towers at West 145th St and Lenox Avenue in Harlem, rising 363 feet above this low-rise neighborhood.

– A whopping 866–939 new residential units, including only 217–282 so-called “affordable” units. The majority of these will be speculative luxury condos and out-of-reach for current neighborhood residents!

– Will demolish almost a full block and destroy the current small businesses including the Timbuktu Islamic Center, restaurants, a 99-cent store and a laundromat.  Permits for demolition were issued in January 2021 to Steve Neuman, owner of the real estate firm Coltown Properties. The developers say “further assessment of this concern is not warranted.” Say what??

Who Benefits?

  • Al Sharpton, who is worth about $2 Million, will get a new headquarters for his National Action Network and a Civil Rights Museum.

– Bruce Teitelbaum, owner of One45 LLC, stands to gain 100s of 1000s of $$$.

– Upper class people, since the majority of apartments in both towers will be market-rate.

– International investors. Between 2014 and 2017 the number of vacant, unavailable apartments rose from 182,571 to 247,977 in NYC, many are “investment” placeholders held by the global super rich.

Who Loses?

Everyone else! Neighborhood residents who can’t afford luxury apartments. Low and middle-income Black residents and Black-owned businesses who will be priced out of the community with increasing rents. The developer is asking the city to upzone this site to C4-6, a General Commercial Zoning District, turning it into a regional commercial center, such as Flushing in Queens and destroying the rich Black culture of the neighborhood. In NYC after an upzoning, the bulk of new housing is always for the luxury market, exasperating the NYC housing crisis.

Zoned Out

The Department of City Planning (DCP) in NYC is narrowly focused on zoning as their main planning tool (a far cry from actual community-based planning). A spot-zoning (upzoning a single parcel for more height and density than that which is legally permitted), which is what ONE45 is asking for, increases the height of buildings and almost always results in displacement of the community and the construction of luxury buildings and upscale businesses. Upzonings are inherently racist and classist tools of white supremacy to ethnically cleanse Black and Brown communities and destroy, in this case, the Black culture of Harlem.

AMI & MIH

Area Median Income (AMI) is calculated each year by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The 2021 AMI for the New York City region is $107,400 for a three-person family. This # is used to determine “affordable” housing income requirements, rather than the average household income in Harlem, $49,095. Big Difference.

Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) is a DeBlasio-led zoning change made in 2016 that said developers are required to include “affordable” housing in new construction or when a rezoning occurs, usually only about 20%, while the remaining 80% are market-rate, many “luxury condominiums”. This scheme has been a huge land grab for big real estate while only creating just 2,065 MIH “affordable apartments” since 2016.

Download our flyer below and print and put them in your building and distribute to your friends and neighbors!

Sign our petition!

Resources and Sources

– Angotti T and Morse S (ed) (2017) Zoned Out! Race, Displacement, and City Planning in New York City. New York: Terreform

– One45Draft Scope of Work for Preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement CEQR No.: 21DCP167M (April 9, 2021)

– Stein, Samuel (2021) Assessing de Blasio’s Housing Legacy. NewYork: Community Service Society

– Kober, Eric (January 2020) De Blasio’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Program: What Is Wrong, and How It Can Be Made Right. New York: Manhattan Institute

Chinese-American Woman Assault Victim Subjected to Retaliation and Discrimination by NYCHA

Ms. Xiamin Zeng was cornered, threatened and sexually assaulted at her workplace, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)’s LaGuardia Houses on September 8, 2016 by Christopher Ambrose a white hispanic male, age 36. An anonymous source tells me that this same individual, a resident of LaGuardia Houses, also sexually assaulted two Black women prior to the assault on Ms. Zeng.

In fact, NYCHA knew that the LaGuardia Houses were a hotspot of assault and sexual violence of NYCHA workers where employees never worked alone. Despite that, a NYCHA Supervisor, Alex Rodriguez, sent Ms. Zeng to work at this location alone, even after her numerous objections. After Ms. Zeng requested time off to go to a court hearing regarding her child, Mr. Rodriguez responded by saying, “fuck your child,” and “fuck your son.” Several of her Black coworkers even called her “fucking Asian,” “fucking yellow Asian” and “fucking stupid bitch.”

Ms. Zeng asked to be transferred and NYCHA responded by stating that she could transfer to Rutgers Houses, the building next to where Ambrose lives, or be terminated. She refused and NYCHA let her go.

In addition, Ms. Zeng’s supervisors at NYCHA called her a “Fucking Yellow Bitch,” denied her sick days to go to the doctor or to attend a mandated court hearing related to her domestic violence matter, and had her work in the cold with no coat and gave her more work than her non-Asian co-workers.

After Ms. Zeng reported this behavior, her supervisors retaliated by making her work longer hours. Ms. Zeng asked to be transferred and NYCHA responded by stating that she could transfer to Rutgers Houses, the building next to where Ambrose lives, or be terminated. She refused and NYCHA let her go.

As a consequence, Ms. Zeng suffers from PTSD and dizzness and has been admitted to the ER several times.

Ms. Zeng has filed multiple Federal lawsuits against city agencies and, according to an anonymous source, has been threatened to dismiss these suites.

Fundraiser Update

We have recently received some beautiful handsewn masks from a generous donor and Alphonso has handed them out at the 30th St. Men’s Shelter in Manhattan.

The remaining money that was raised was used to buy Alphonso new shoes and $50 in cash was given to him for food and legal fees for his lawsuite. Thank you to everyone who donated so we could give him some help.

Transparency in Our Fundraising

We have raised $275 so far. $99 has been handed off to Alphonso for him to survive including food, toiletries, notary and various court fees for his cases against the City. We have documented this the best we could from the photos below.

Finally DHS has been giving out masks so we are switching our fundraising right now solely so Alphonso can self-isolate in a hotel. Please give if you can. Also we are being sent 30 masks by a comrade’s relative and will distribute those soon. Stay tuned!

WOMAN WASTING AWAY IN NEW YORK HOMELESS SHELTER

The situation regarding COVID-19 is dire in New York City’s homeless shelters. 239 shelter residents have tested positive as of Sunday, April 5. 12 have died, including 11 unsheltered. 392 are in isolation units, of which there are only 500 available. Yet, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and New York State Governor Cuomo continue to ignore the recommendations of advocate organizations to swiftly move shelter residents to the over 100,000 vacant hotel rooms in New York City.

Yesterday I heard from someone inside a women’s shelter that people showing symptoms are being ignored. This person had this to say:

“Just saw a woman who looks like she’s wasting away. Haven’t seen her in over a week. She can barely walk. Wearing mask, walking extremely slow. In room with another woman who is sick and hacking her guts out. I told her to call EMS and go to ER.”

According to this person this shelter is continuing to bring in new clients and there is no sanitizer, wipes, gloves or alcohol.

On top of that people are not getting enough food. According to one resident:

“We can’t get deliveries, if places deliver. The corner store raised prices: sandwich that was $8 is now over $10. Not everyone has money. Can’t buy groceries, can’t cook. EVERYONE here is HUNGRY! No deliveries of supplies. Haven’t eaten since this morning at breakfast: plastic container of cheerios. Shelter is rationing food.”

While Toronto, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and London have secured hotel rooms for their homeless populations, New York City continues to endanger our houseless family as more and more get sick. How many more deaths will it take for Mayor DeBlasio and Governor Cuomo to house our homeless?

COVID-19 CRISIS ON WARDS ISLAND

The COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the four homeless shelters on Wards Island in New York City as Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill DeBlasio refuse to test, isolate and treat our houseless family. According to The City, “As of Monday, 120 residents across 60 city shelter locations had contracted COVID-19. Four have died.” There is no social distancing in the shelters. There is no COVID-19 testing, isolating and treating in the shelters. In one homeless shelter on Wards Island there is plenty of unused empty space on three floors that could be immediately used for social distancing and isolating.

HELP USA is the operator of the four homeless shelters on Wards Island. It was created in 1986 by Andrew Cuomo himself while his sister, Maria Cuomo Cole, is the Chairman of the Board of Directors.

If they are the operator, why have they done next to nothing to save the people’s lives they are entrusted with, except to put up a few flyers? The price of inaction is death.

I called HELP USA at 212-400-7000 and got a voice message that gave me another number: 845-764-3275. A person named Cynthia picked up the phone and I told her about the situation on Wards Island. Her first response was “The office is closed and I can have someone call you back”. I said, “I don’t think you understand the seriousness of the situation”

“I don’t work with Wards Island so I can’t do anything”, said Cynthia

And then after I raised my voice telling her that people will die she said,

“I will send an email out to all staff”.

The following pictures show open garbage bins and a bag on the floor spilling out garbage in this shelter, as well as a client walking barefoot and a shelter employee who is pregnant.

The disregard of human life by Cuomo, DeBlasio, HELP USA and the New York City Department of Homeless Services is astounding. They want them to die. As one client told me, “It’s a death sentence. For real.”

All photos were taken April 2, 2020.

Sign the petition that sends an email directly to Cuomo, DeBlasio and HELP USA CEO Tom Hamerline.

I Was Violently Assaulted Simply Because I Wanted To Ask An Elected Official A Question

On Thursday April 11, 2019, I was violently assaulted by 4 SBH Health Systems security at 4422 3rd Avenue, Bronx, NY 10457 around approximately 2:50 pm.  The incident occurred in a hallway directly outside of the auditorium and then directly outside.  Instead of assisting me New York State Assemblyman Jose Rivera recorded the incident and went after me along with the security staff who violently assaulted me. There is video footage from my phone of this incident.

I attended a presentation by Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul on the New York State Fiscal Year 2020 Budget on Thursday April 11, 2019 at approximately 2:00pm at SBH Health Systems at 4422 3rd Avenue, Bronx, NY 10457.  I wanted to ask her why there was not any money allocated for New York City Housing Authority in this year’s state budget.  During her presentation I held up a sheet of paper that said the following: “$32 Billion Needed for NYCHA, Backlog of 170,000 Open Work Orders, Federal Budget FY2020: $0 For NYCHA, State Budget FY2020: $0 for NYCHA, Where’s the Money Kathy?” 

I was meeting a friend there but that person was on the opposite side of the room. After the presentation I walked from my seat toward the exit. I asked some men if I could ask her a question as I saw other people in the audience speaking to her. They said no and I insisted. Then I stepped into the area directly outside the auditorium.  They then asked me to step outside and I said I wanted to wait for my friend. Then I used my phone to start recording and that is when they violently assaulted me and pushed me to the ground.

They followed me and took my phone. The main person who assaulted me is the dark skinned black man you see in photos. Then after this man took my phone, he gave it to another person who was getting into a van and drove the van ahead of me so I had to run after him. New York State Assemblyman Jose Rivera recorded the violence with his phone outside and made no attempt to help me at any point.  He actually WALKED with these violent people after me. It was clear to me that he indeed condoned this violence by his actions.

I took a bus and then got on the subway downtown closer to where I live.  I got to Mount Sinai Beth Israel, a hospital I trust, where a police report was taken by PO Faini (white male) and his partner (white female).  At this time when I gave the report I did not realize that New York State Assemblyman Jose Rivera was involved.  Someone pointed out that Mr. Rivera was the person recording it in a video still I put online.  I asked if they could give me a copy of the report and they said no but you could do a FOIL for it.  PO Faini gave me the 13th Prescient contact information as well as contact information for the Department of Investigation.  My heart rate was 133 at the hospital.  I believe I was experiencing shock.  I was discharged with a minor head injury and blunt chest trauma.

Keep in mind this happened at SBH Health Services, a hospital whose mission is, according to their website:

“SBH Health System is committed to improving the health and wellness of our community and is dedicated to providing the highest quality care in a compassionate, comprehensive and safe environment where the patient always comes first, regardless of their ability to pay.”

I tried calling the 13th Prescient several times but no one picked up.  On April 12, 2019 I filled out and sent the Online Complaint Form for the New York City Department of Investigation. 

They used violence. I did not. They violently assaulted me because I wanted to wait for my friend and ask a question about NYCHA of an elected official. In my opinion Jose Rivera should NOT be an Assemblyman AT ALL! I am in pain both physically and mentally. 

Robert

New York City

Monday April 15, 2019