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No Land Grab: Residents, Advocates React to NYCHA Private Investment Plan

Proposal to lease portion of public housing to developers stokes old fears.

No Land Grab: Residents, Advocates React to NYCHA Private Investment Plan

For residents of Whitman, Ingersoll and Farragut Houses, news last week of New York City Housing Authority's plan to lease some of its real estate holdings to private developers brought back old anxieties over the future of the nation's largest public housing system.

"Everything around us is falling apart," said Jose Rivas, a resident of Farragut Houses, who said he's still waiting for repairs to his leaky kitchen ceiling. "It feels like nobody really knows or cares what's going on."

Representatives of Nycha, as the landlord for an estimated 400,000 public housing residents across the city is known, said the plan to bring in private investment would be first unrolled in Manhattan.

"This is not a plan to privatize Nycha," chairman John Rhea told the New York Times last week.

But those assurances did little to assuage the fears of residents and public housing advocates over what they termed the lack of investment in public housing—especially in rapidly gentrifying areas in Brooklyn.

"We're worried Nycha is trying to pull another fast one. It's hard to trust them when they sat on $1 billion while my neighbors wait years for needed repairs," said Beverly Corbin, a resident of Wykoff Gardens and a board member for Families United For Racial and Economic Equality. "Without more tenant control and oversight, mismanagement issues will continue, and no long term preservation plan will be found."

For many, concerns about the future of public housing have been compounded by a huge backlog of unfinished repairs and fears that developers are eying places like Whitman and Ingersoll as the site of the city's newest big-time condo project.

On Myrtle Avenue, Rivas pointed to a large sign announcing the impending arrival of Red Apple Group's newest luxury residential development across the street from Ingersoll Houses.

"That's the future," he said.

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