At a meeting on Wednesday night of the New York City Housing Authority with residents of the Al Smith Houses no meeting of the minds took place. Despite the NYCHA’s best efforts to reassure the denizens of the lower Manhattan buildings, the people left the meeting far from convinced that the NYCHA plan was a good one for them.
The people of the Al Smith Houses near the Manhattan Bridge are displeased with the city’s plan to turn playgrounds, community centers and open spaces into luxury condos for leasing as a money-making venture for the city.
One of the tenants, Randy Santiago, age 58 said: “Smith is not going to benefit from the sale of this property. They told us a bunch lies.”
The general manager of the NYCHA, Cecil House, tried to reassure the crowd of about 100 Smith House residents.
“This is not a meeting about demolition … about the sale of any NYCHA assets” he said. “This is a meeting about how we can leverage NYCHA assets to preserve public housing.”
NYCHA Chairman John B. Rhea supports the plan to build luxury high-rise condos. He says the plan is needed to increase revenue so that there will be enough money to pay for the repair of aging buildings in the city.
But dismay is on the rise for the plan which will include eight new Manhattan developments. A few of the tenants protested the presentation, and more than 300 residents have hired a lawyer to stop the plan, arguing that the city has been reluctant to specify all the details of the plan.