For Immediate Release
February 18, 2009
New York, NY – International Brotherhood of Teamsters President Gregory Floyd praised the signing of the federal economic stimulus package this week, urging the state and city to act quickly in delegating the money it slated to improve and to repair public housing facilities. Mr. Floyd and Local 237 have been working aggressively for more than a year to call attention to the need for federal assistance to public housing, which eventually helped secure a large appropriation for public housing in the $787 billion economic stimulus package.
“This bill is an example of working class people making a difference in their government. We stood up and made our voices heard,” Floyd said. “For the millions of people who live in public housing, both in New York and around the country, we have scored a victory that will improve working and living conditions of many.”
Local 237, which represents many of the workers in the NYCHA system, played an important role in alerting lawmakers and the public about the dire state of much public housing. In May of last year, the union hosted a rally for public housing that drew 10,000 people from New York, Boston, Philadelphia and other cities. They followed the event with radio ads during the MLB All-Star game at Yankee Stadium calling for federal aid to help repair public housing infrastructure, an effort that reached over 2 million listeners. Finally, in the fall, Local 237 drafted a letter and created a video detailing the desperate need for repairs in public housing, sending them to every city, state and federal elected official in the region.
While the final appropriations are yet to be determined, early reports estimate that the NYCHA system could receive between $200-300 million in funding for various projects. NYCHA has already created a list of upgrades that could begin within 120 days, the federal standard for a “shovel ready” project, including roof, facade and room repairs. A portion of the funding will also contribute to the $107 million NYCHA plan to replace between 500-550 old elevators, which have become a major concern in many developments. Floyd encourages Gov. Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg to work with each other to dispense the money as soon as possible, and he plans to continue advocating for additional support to the city’s public housing.
“Money spent on public housing will create jobs, improve residents’ quality of life and breathe hope back into the economy,” Floyd said. “We needed that money yesterday, and if given the chance, we could start putting that money to use tomorrow. Our leaders need to know that public housing in where taxpayer money is best spent, and I will keep letting them know that until we get it.”
Floyd has been deeply involved in the fight to improve public housing for years, leading a City Hall protest June 12, 2007 against proposed layoffs by NYCHA. He has also lobbied for passage of a bill, signed in the summer of 2007 by then-Gov. Spitzer, which increased the shelter allowance the state provides public housing authorities serving families on public assistance. With this expertise, he has testifyed before the City Council's Subcommittee on Public Housing to request additional funding for NYCHA.