City seeks community input on NYCHA capital needs in Chelsea

Chelsea’s Fulton Houses includes 11 buildings located between Ninth and 10th Aves., stretching from 16th to 19th Sts. (Photo: Gabe Herman)

BY GABE HERMAN | Chelsea public housing residents protested this spring after the mayor proposed a plan that would let private developers build on public land as a way to raise needed funds for the NYCHA developments.

Now, before the plan goes any further, elected officials have announced a working group that will include local residents and housing advocates to gain more community input on Chelsea’s NYCHA capital needs.

The Chelsea NYCHA complexes — Fulton Houses, Elliot-Chelsea and Chelsea Addition — need $344 million for repairs and upgrades to prevent further deterioration, according to the city.

The de Blasio proposal announced in April included demolishing two 36-unit buildings  and building three new mixed-income buildings at Fulton Houses. Local residents protested the idea of turning some of the land over to a private developer and there were also fears of displacement.

City officials have said that all current residents would be able to move into the new buildings without a rent increase and construction would be done in phases so that current residents always have a place on the development to live.

The mayor’s proposal was part of a plan to raise funds for NYCHA developments by allowing mixed-income housing on NYCHA lands, with all of the proceeds then going to the capital needs of the nearby developments.

Protests in Chelsea after the proposal’s announcement also centered around the idea that the plan was being imposed by the city without any community input.

Local officials praised the formation of the working group, which will convene for 10 weeks, as a way for local residents to have a say in what needs to be addressed at the Chelsea NYCHA developments.

Some Fulton Houses residents rallied this spring against the city’s rebuilding plan. (File photo by Marni Halasa)

The group will include local NYCHA residents, several housing advocate groups, local elected officials, members of Community Board 4, city officials from NYCHA and the Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development.

“My neighbors who live in Fulton and Elliot-Chelsea Houses deserve better than the current state of their buildings and we all agree that we must act to improve their homes and their lives,” said Speaker Corey Johnson, who represents Chelsea. “The process by which we get there must be community driven and must allow NYCHA residents the opportunity to determine their own futures. This working group will help facilitate that. I look forward to working with my neighbors, my colleagues and advocates to build the consensus we need to get this critical project done right.”

Officials said the working group will address NYCHA’s funding crisis and explore all options for raising money for Chelsea’s developments, while also discussing tenant protections.

“We look forward to joining a productive conversation about how NYCHA can best improve quality of life for the residents of the Fulton Houses, Chelsea-Elliot Houses, and Chelsea Addition,” said Andrew Rein, president of the nonprofit Citizens Budget Commission. “Finding a timely solution to addressing the developments’ significant capital needs by improving management and better utilizing NYCHA’s assets will benefit thousands of public housing tenants and ensure that their deeply affordable housing units will be preserved for future generations.”

“The Fulton Tenant Association is pleased that the Mayor’s Office and all other elected officials are giving the opportunity to the residents to be heard through this working group,” said Miguel Acevedo, president of the Fulton Houses Tenant Association. “The reality is that Fulton Houses needs major capital improvements in order for it to habitable for the future. These conversations give the opportunity for all to be a part of preserving public housing in New York City.”

The working group is scheduled to launch later in October, officials said.