Monday, August 5, 2013

WBAI Radio Interview: HHA Tenants Against Vision 20/20

WBAI Pacifica Radio 99.5 FM

GA's been asked if SaveTheProjects is "real" or if someone's blowing smoke up my, you-know.

Well folks, not only is SaveTheProjects (STP) real, but the 'resistance' movement of HHA residents who oppose the demolition of the projects for Vision 20/20 is growing in numbers and working to get the word out.    

Yesterday, a SaveTheProjects representative gave an interview on NYC's WBAI radio (99.5 FM).    If given permission, I will post the clip. GA does not wish to put this individual in harm's way.

Here is my transcription of the full WBAI interview.  Opinions expressed are those of SaveTheProjects.  The  bottom line is this group believes demolition of the projects will result in displacement and homelessness for the current population of HHA residents, and that they are being lied to and bullied by HHA leadership to support Vision 20/20.

WBAI: ...now there has been initiated a 20/20 Development project that has been initiated by the Hoboken Housing Authority headed by Carmelo Garcia. Our guest who has asked to remain anonymous because of possible retaliations will now join us. Welcome to the program.

SaveTheProjects: Thank you so very much.

WBAI: Let's start with the 20/20 Vision project and why you and others described it as primarily a racist displacement development of black people.

SaveTheProjects: Well, what Vision 20/20 will do is and one of their agendas obviously is to make the city of Hoboken, um, all-white and rich. What they're going to do is demolish, as you mentioned, all of the projects. All the projects are in sound physical condition. They're in excellent condition, and they're in better condition than probably 90% of the apartments, in let's say Manhattan. Um, so there's no reason to demolish them except to take away tenants rights because once they're demolished and given over to private developers , it means that the people who live here will no longer have any rights to live in the new buildings or for that matter, live in the city of Hoboken. The city of Hoboken is a very racist city. There's no place for blacks and Hispanics to live once these buildings are demolished.

WBAI: Now the Hoboken Housing Authority has claimed that in fact that all of the tenants in, currently living in the housing development, public housing development will be relocated and brought back and every one will have their home, and no one in fact will be displaced. Now ah, there is a great deal of unspoken questions , ah about this. First of all, when they return the rents are going to be restructured. And secondly, the ah, in our discussion and what I have read, they're looking at a major redevelopment of 1/3 luxury, 1/3 moderate income and 1/3 low income. And so, how is it possible with those numbers and percentages, that people who are currently living in public housing and those complexes will be able to come back?

SaveTheProjects: Well, they won't. And as you mentioned, not only - I mean according to Carmelo Garcia's own talk, um when he mentions 1/3 luxury, 1/3 moderate, 1/3 low income he had 806 current housing development units. And the total units in this luxury building would be 1,002. which means that 473 people of color will be displaced immediately. And of those who may, which is very unlikely, come into the low income housing, as you mentioned they will just restructure the housing so that tenants will not be able to afford to live there. One of the methods are probably you will have to pay your electric, gas, water, heat, parking fees, so I mean there's ways to get tenants out. But, we who live in the city of Hoboken don't believe that will happen at all because, let's be honest, wealthy white people don't want to live next to poor white people, which brings up another fight in Hoboken which is for rent control. So they want to get rid of rent control because they want to get rid of poor white people. Now there is no way, they're going to have blacks and Hispanics. The whole point of the development is to make the maximum amount of profits. There is no way developers are going to invest multi-millions of dollars and not get an investment. And wealthy white people are not going to pay top market value for an apartment that has black and Hispanics living there. So we know we are not moving into those buildings. It's not going to happen, cause otherwise they would not be able to sell those apartments at the full market rate. It is just a way to pacify tenants so we will allow this to happen so they can take out homes away from us and displace us from the town permanently.

WBAI: Well, given this assault against working class people, both white and black, are there any alliances that are emerging, any collaborations of a resistance against this demolition of public housing because once its, once public housing, this public housing stock is demolished, it surely will not come back. So are the, what does the landscape look like in terms of a working class alliance?

SaveTheProjects: Well the problem right now is that the tenants are being lied to, there's disinformation going on. For example, they're saying that if you don't vote for Vision 20/20 it means they're going to raze the buildings. No, that's a LIE. The buildings will ABSOLUTELY be demolished and razed, if 20/20 passes. So we're trying to get the word out, the big problem is that Carmelo Garcia, he and his group and the developers have goons. And tenants were terrorized through being threatened with eviction, bodily harm and so much for democracy in this country.

WBAI: Final question because we are near the end here.

SaveTheProjects: Yes.

WBAI: The Obama administration has made clear that it wants to privatize public housing. And this demolition cannot take place without the okay of the... of HUD. Now, what is the role, what do you see as the role of the federal government in terms of this demolition?

SaveTheProjects: Uh, very quickly and I'll give information for everyone if they want to join the cause. Very quickly, I mean uh, for the first time in US history an average black family will not live in a black community. This will dis-empower black people, uh we'll have less voting rights especially if we're in far suburban areas it will be difficult for us to mobilize, so this is an issue of dis-empowering and making homeless black and Hispanic people of color.
  
WBAI: What is the contact information in case people want to support this movement through resistance of the demolition of public housing in Hoboken. What's your contact information?

SaveTheProjects: SaveTheProjects@yahoo.com and the phone number is 201-***-****. I'll repeat the phone number, 201-***-****. I was just told we have a new Facebook page. And the Facebook page is Save the Hoboken Projects. 

WBAI: Okay, thank you very much and ..

SaveTheProjects: Thank you.

WBAI: ...for all of you who are listening if you want more information about this demolition because this really represents not only the privatization but the demolition of public housing and the deconcentration of blacks and other working class people across the country.

29 comments:

  1. some of his statements -- the objective of 20/20 is to turn hoboken into an all-whire city, hha housing is in better shape than 90% of the buildings in manhattan, what?? -- is a little over the top but i guess you have to fight fire with fire. if carmelo is going to lie his way along, i guess the other side is allowed to stretch the truth too.

    however, it just shouldn't be portrayed as a race war, because it's not. 20/20 isn't happening because whites in hoboken want to get ride of the projects. it's happening because carmelo garcia and the corrupt forces of the dark side want to make millions of dollars. it's all about money.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ummm when you look at who the most vocal people supporting Carmelo Garcia's plan I see white faces.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh really? Do you consider Carmelo Garcia and Ruben Ramos "white"? Or HHA board member Rob Davis? Or the protestors outside the Sky Club? Or the t-shirt wearing crowd in support of the plan at meetings?

      Delete
    2. Actually, now that you mention it, yeah, the "t-shirt wearing crowd in support of the plan at meetings" is whiter than a Taylor Swift performance at a NASCAR rally. Couple of tokens here and there, but mostly white trash from Fox Hill and the other uptown HHA buildings. Thanks for pointing that out!

      Delete
    3. Taylor Swift? I'd keep my distance, she's a radical.

      Delete
  3. Carmelo's Vision Money MoneyAugust 5, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Wonder if he knows about Carmelo Garcia publicly supporting Applied to end lower rents in those building as he was quoted in the NY Times?

    This is a very interesting story. Wonder what Mike Russo and David Liebler wills say about this HHA resident?

    ReplyDelete
  4. IMO, Vision 20/20 isn't about black, white or brown.

    It's about GREEN.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It makes me sad that in 2013 people in the HHA truly believe that whites are trying to force them out. It doesn't matter hat the truth is, because this is what some (all?) of them believe. And if they believe it, then it becomes their truth. I think the best solution here is to get in there and make them understand that that is not what is going in and that we don't care if they're black, white, hispanic or asian, we don't want carmelo razing the projects and tossing them period.

    ReplyDelete
  6. also, this person's beliefs as to why many don't support rent control are wrong. We don't support it because it makes no sense for people who can afford market rate to be living in below market rate housing. Give them a means test and if they don't have the ability to pay for it, then we can discuss. But taking a rent control apartment when you make 6 figures is disgusting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's that mythical person that makes 6 figures again... I think you'll be hard pressed to convince anyone that you're not trying to force them out of their homes if you continue to suggest that residents living in rent controlled housing are all somehow wealthy 6 figure types who should be forced out of their homes

      Delete
    2. What about a means test escapes you?

      Delete
    3. What is it about the difference between rent control protections and government sponsored affordable housing programs that escapes you?

      Delete
    4. All housing subsidies should be treated equally and each individual in Hoboken will be equal and see fairness accordingly. Means testing should not be for only HHA residents but all subsidized housing in Hoboken, Marine View, Church Towers, general rentals.

      Otherwise Hoboken is just another stop in Animal Farm, some animals are more "equal" than others.

      Delete
    5. They aren't all people who make 6 figures but there are more than enough families, groups of people cohabitating and just individuals who live in rent control that it no longer seems to serve its intended purpose. Housing projects and affordable housing programs w/ means tests however can serve that purpose b/c they insure only people who need help get that help.

      I get the concept of having rental increases somewhat limited during a specific tenant's tenancy but once that person leaves the unit, the landlord should be able to reset the rent at whatever level they want w/o interference from the government and only further increases above and beyond that initial rent level should ever be regulated.

      Delete
    6. Agree with Anon:"I get the concept of having rental increases somewhat limited during a specific tenant's tenancy but once that person leaves the unit, the landlord should be able to reset the rent at whatever level they want w/o interference from the government and only further increases above and beyond that initial rent level should ever be regulated." Spot on.

      Delete
    7. Such a structure would put too many of our long term residents at risk of being forced out of their homes. Talking points about tenant incomes are simply that - talking points - and have little relationship to the facts. There are many many rent controlled properties with rents well over 2K or even well over $2,500 a month. In order to afford such a rent the tenant needs to earn a pretty good paycheck OR have roommates (which, by the way, does not create a stable community.) Make no mistake about it - calls to end rent control protections such as you describe are a sure fire way to displace many long term Hoboken residents. Rent controls are not a housing program only for the poor. They are an attempt to protect ALL tenants from gouging during a chronic housing shortage such as we've seen in Hoboken since the start of gentrification decades ago, and vacancy decontrol is one form of gouging. The minute you implement a system whereby a landlord can raise the rent sky high for the NEXT tenant, you immediately put the existing tenant at risk. Isn't that obvious? The most honest argument against regulating rents is an unadulterated libertarian one - that government has no business interfering with the (all mighty) market and people have no right to a "product" that they can't afford. Such an argument is much too ruthless to be palatable, so rent protection foes consistently package their position with a pretty ribbon but, the underlying truth is there. It's that uncomfortable feeling that most of us get when we hear about vulnerable people being thrust into situation for which they are ill-equipped or cast out of their homes and into harm's way and, this brings me back to my original point. The residents in the HHA that are concerned about losing their homes would be hard-pressed to believe that people that are avariciously opposed to protecting Hoboken's existing rent controlled population may be hard pressed to believe that those same people are really sincere about wanting to protect them in their HHA homes. With all that said, hate to post and run....normally I'd engage in further discussion - but, it is my bday and there are much more fun things on the agenda.

      Delete
    8. Not surprised a discussion on true fairness with means testing across the board would be changed into one about "gouging." The city of Hoboken should institute means testing, end of story.

      Hoboken taxpayers are subsidizing all these discounted units in town and have to pick up the EXTRA burden. Setting reasonable standards is the right and fair thing to do.

      Delete
    9. it's difficult to discuss this and not sound mean, but we live in a capitalist society with basic rules of supply and demand. if demand becomes high for something, then supply becomes low and prices increase.

      when i couldn't afford market rate in hoboken, i lived in a crappier, less convenient place in union city. i only moved here when i could afford to live here. shouldn't that apply to everyone too?

      Delete
    10. Considering the #1 reason there is a regional housing shortage is rent control, pardon me for not thinking rent control will do anything to fix the problem.

      Delete
    11. 1:37 Anon - first let me say, I appreciate your comment as it is an opener for a dialectic on the subject and I respect your view. With that said, my personal opinion is that we live in a democracy; "capitalist societies" take on many forms - laissez-faire, state capitalism, etc. and the extent to which any market is free is subject to politics and policy. You mention that you moved to Hoboken only after you could afford it; however, existing rent control protections are in place to protect the people that already live here now. I simply disagree with any policy that takes the position that people that moved into a town that they COULD afford and are current residents shouldn't be asked to leave or pushed out simply so that other people can make a bigger profit. To me, that's more reflective of a feudal society than a democracy.

      Delete
    12. Balderdash. If existing rent controls were only designed to protect current tenants then you wouldn't be fighting tooth & nail against letting landlords reset the rental rates to the fair market rental rate once the current tenant vacated.

      Delete
  7. What has to be done is to remove Carmelo Garcia from the equation and replace him with someone who can b trusted by all involved.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I realize this person is speaking from the heart, and that takes balls and is to be commended. But I wish he'd have some media training before doing press interviews because some of his talking points are a little shaky and do almost as much harm as good to his argument.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It takes enormous guts for HHA residents to try to organize under threat of violence and eviction. For this first media outing, I'd cut STP some slack and hope these comments are read by the group.

      Delete
  9. While racism is real, and goes both ways in Hoboken, the reason "rich white people" don't want the project is because of the crime concentrated in that part of town: vandalism, car break-ins, muggings, the heroin and crack trade, and street harassment. I'm sure "rich white people" who often see themselves as social moderates or liberals would have no problem with the projects if the lawlessness could be contained...e.g., evicting people not on the leases, evicting tenants who sublet, those who vandalize HHA property, those convicted of violent or drug related offenses, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The drugs and violence are more prevalent in this area. This is a HHA and PD problem and they have to increase their partnership in the HHA complex. As for color or race - the color is green - Money.
    The HHA Board has to oversee the Executive Director and he to do what's right for the residents of the HHA. That's the bottom line.....

    ReplyDelete
  11. This isnt a black and white race issue it is a greed issue.Developers need to make money to stay in business. Garcia is willing to throw his people to the dogs to help out these developers. Those developers will be very pleased with Garcia for giving them 12 mill to build the developers luxury buildings and free land to put those buildings on. Bet we can all figure out how they will replay garcia for his generosity of throwing the residents out of their housing and giving away the land.

    ReplyDelete
  12. surprise surprise: the hoboken reporter gives it fairly straightforward coverage. this guy dean seems to be a decent reporter, hope they don't drive him out...

    http://www.hudsonreporter.com/view/full_story/23297014/article--Anonymous-radio-guest-----One-of-their-agendas-is-to-make-Hoboken-all-white-and-rich-?instance=up_to_the_minute_hoboken

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Just read it. Agree about Dean- he did a great job.

      I suspect he heard about the WBAI story here. It would be nice to get an occasional mention from the paper that isn't about Nazis, police visits or poop in a punchbowl.

      Delete