FEBURARY 10, 2015, New York City Hall
Thank you for the opportunity to address you on this issue. I represent more than 20,000 members of Local 237 International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Many expect that I will come here today and criticize the recently completed deal by NYCHA and the City of New York to sell Section 8 housing. Yes, there are some concerns I have but I will address those later. I can even understand why NYCHA would want this deal. Whether it turns out to be good or bad, after years of neglect by all levels of government to fund affordable housing for the low and middle class, this deal might seem like the right thing to do.
The Housing Authority and the Section 8 program are key elements in affordable housing in New York City. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mayor DeBlasio for making affordable housing a cornerstone of his Administration. It is now time for the Federal and State governments to step up and provide adequate funding for this key asset.
The fiscal resources are there: the Federal government has righted the economic shift, the State has more than a $5 billion surplus, and the City is in its best financial condition in more than 40 years. This is the right time to correct years of neglect.
There are several concerns I would like to raise. First, the Authority did not discuss its plans for this action prior to implementation. One lesson we have all learned over the years is that our input is important for the success of the Authority. Let me give you one example. The properties will now be managed by a new outside company. Had the Authority talked to us we would have explored having NYCHA manage the facilities. Our workforce is the best when they are provided adequate manpower and resources.
Second, we have indicated to the Authority that they have violated Local Law 63. This law establishes a set of procedures that must be followed should our workforce be replaced by private contractors. The Authority apparently violated this Law.
Before I conclude, I would like to raise one cautionary note. There are some who see this as a step to privatization. I hope not and I believe the City Council will make sure that does not happen. The Council I believe will continue to protect the middle class of New York City.
I want to thank the Council and its leadership for its concern about this issue that is important to all the citizens of New York.