November 15, 2013
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – Demonstrators, some of them residents living and working at NYCHA developments citywide, descended on the agency’s offices at 250 Broadway on Thursday to protest over 150 pre-holiday layoff notices issued against an even darker backdrop of widespread outsourcing, increased privatization and charges of mismanagement. Watch Video
“These workers have been working for NYCHA for a lot of years – given their life’s blood to this agency – and now, because [the agency’s] philosophy is to get out of the business as they walk out the door, they put 163 people at risk,” said Anthony Wells, president, Social Service Employees Union, Local 371. “It’s outrageous.”
This week’s protest follows a call on the Comptroller’s Office to conduct a forensic audit of NYCHA with special emphasis on $1 billion in federal funding that has reportedly gone unused, even as many residents residing within the system continue to suffer poor living conditions.
Wells directed some of his most vehement criticism at NYCHA Chairman John Rhea.
“Stop the nonsense,” Wells said during Thursday’s rally. “You have the money. Manage it better.”
NYCHA has attempted to dismiss calls for the forensic audit saying that the agency has already gone through several financial reviews and that it stands behind the financial management of its 334 developments.
Rene Collymore, the female Democratic district leader representing the 57th Assembly District in Brooklyn, also blasted Rhea’s stewardship of NYCHA and efforts to privatize a system that is home to some 400,000 New Yorkers.
“Public housing in my district is prime real estate, and I know that they are trying to get my constituents out of the borough of Brooklyn,” Collymore said. “And so now, I stand to say, down with John Rhea.”
Local 371‘s Sadie Sanders put Rhea and the rest of NYCHA’s brass on notice that she and her colleagues staffing the system’s hard-pressed community centers, senior centers and after school programs, are going to fight for their jobs.
“Hell no, you’re not going to take away our jobs,” Sanders said. “Public housing is not for sale.”
Wells said that he expects a better commitment to public housing from Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio.
“I expect a commitment to strengthening the social net in this city,” Wells added. “Any progressive agenda, at its heart, needs to provide services to those who need it the most. And in this city, it’s not just poor people, it’s working class people, people who work every day that need help.”