Updated: Tenants Vote to Rebuild Two NYCHA Developments But Others Raise Concerns About Project

Image Credit: NYCHA.

Earlier this summer, the New York City Housing Authority announced its plan to completely rebuild the Fulton and Elliot-Chelsea Houses. Essence Development and Related Companies, the resident-selected partner team that will develop the new buildings. 

Residents 18 years and older were reportedly surveyed over a 60-day period and given the option to pursue rehabilitation of their existing buildings or a full rebuilding of their campuses. A majority of residents surveyed indicated they preferred a complete rebuild and were able to choose between two construction plans. The Citizens Housing and Planning Council attended some of the engagement events and tabulated the final surveys.

“What has been underway at Fulton and Elliot-Chelsea continues to build on the success of years of deep and meaningful resident engagement and participation by now facilitating the replacement of more than 2,000 existing apartments with brand-new buildings,” Lisa Bova-Hiatt, New York City Housing Authority Interim CEO, said of the new rebuilding plan.

The plan chosen by the residents will reportedly prioritize the complete rebuilding of all 2,055 existing apartments at Elliot-Chelsea and Fulton. The new buildings will have enhanced ventilation and energy efficiency while updating amenities to include resident-controlled, in-unit heating and cooling systems, new dishwashers, clothes washers, and dryers in every apartment, and rooftop spaces. Approximately 875 new affordable housing units will be added as part of the 3,500 new mixed-income apartments that will be constructed on the campuses.

In addition to the updates that will be made to the buildings and apartments, onsite community resources will be enhanced to include healthcare facilities, community centers, and grocery and retail stores.

New construction for the rebuilds are expected to be completed in six years.

Tenant Association Presidents Miguel Acevedo and Darlene Waters stated, “We are grateful to the hundreds of Fulton and Elliott-Chelsea residents that participated in this first-of-its-kind selection process, helping to bring NYCHA and our city’s public housing to the next generation. When residents lead and have a seat at the decision-making table, we can find solutions that prioritize our safety and better our surrounding neighborhoods. Thank you to NYCHA and the development team for partnering with us to ensure residents had the opportunity to make their voices heard, and we look forward to continuing our partnership to make sure every resident has the modern and safe home they deserve.”

While some residents support the efforts for rebuilds, other residents and advocates have voiced concerns about the project. The official announcement from NYCHA did not specify where residents would be relocated to while the renovations occurred. The Legal Aid Society and Community Service Society released a joint statement in opposition to the demolition and new construction, citing concerns about the displacement of families, elderly, and disabled residents if demolition occurs. The statement criticized NYCHA’s survey of residents for not being adequately transparent about the relocation plan for the total rebuild option of the survey. The statement alleges that relocation was only discussed for the renovation plans, but not the rebuilds and claimed neither developers nor the New York City Housing Authority has explained how enough units will be secured for residents displaced as a result of the demolition plans. The organizations urged developers to only place residents in temporary housing within the Chelsea are to ensure residents are not forced to leave their communities, schools, medical providers, and jobs.

NYCHA has claimed all resident rights and protections will be preserved with the construction of the new buildings. Rent will continue to be calculated at 30 percent of adjusted gross income for the household and lease renewals will occur automatically. Similarly, improvements to existing buildings will take place before residents move into the new buildings, according to the New York City Housing Authority, to more immediately improve the quality of life for residents.

The Legal Aid statement also questioned the lack of data on how many households participated, the accessibility of the survey, and if residents had an adequate amount of time to review information and provide survey responses. According to the statement, NYCHA had distributed a letter to residents with information about the proposals and a QR code for the survey approximately a week before the survey closed.

Update: Please note this article has been updated to clarify the Citizens Housing and Planning Council’s role with the survey. A representative from the Citizens Housing and Planning Council reached out to CityLand to provide further information about the engagement process. In addition to the QR code provided to residents in the letter from NYCHA, the survey was available for two months throughout the engagement process at all community meetings and at a community office in paper form and through a QR code. Throughout this engagement process, almost 30 percent of residents responded.

By: Vanessa Cameron (Vanessa is a CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024.)



2 thoughts on “Updated: Tenants Vote to Rebuild Two NYCHA Developments But Others Raise Concerns About Project

  1. You stated that Darlene and Miguel said, but you quoted one person, so I’m not sure who said it. Unless they both said it simultaneously. Please clarify and specify who said it. I do know that Miguel Acevedo Ta president of Fulton have been speaking for us at the Elliot-Chelsea development. He’s taken over the role that pertains to Darlene. But I doubt that any of them truly said what you quoted. Was that sent to you over the email? Read over the phone? I’m sure it was scripted for them to say. Or Darlene probably wrote it out and Miguel read it.

    • Thank you for your comment. That quote was taken directly from NYCHA’s original press release from earlier this summer, where both are credited for the statement.

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