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Metro IAF Wins Court Ordered Accountability for New York Public Housing

NYCHA residents march and demand action from Mayor de Blasio on toxic mold plaguing NYCHA housing in July. (Byron Smith/for New York Daily News)

On September 19, the judge supervising Metro IAF NY’s mold focused federal court consent decree with NYCHA agreed to appoint our choice of an Ombudsperson, Cesar De Castro. Mr. De Castro will have the power to force NYCHA to properly fix mold and leaks hire independent contractors at NYCHA’s expense when they fail to do so. This will begin in the Jefferson Houses in East Harlem and rolling out citywide as soon as possible. Tenants will finally have an ally with court backed authority who can hold NYCHA accountable.

This came from years of work by Metro IAF’s public housing leaders to highlight the fact that most tenants still have seen no real improvement in mold remediation and the push for change. Most recently, on 9/13/19, we held a press conference with Council Member Ritchie Torres outside of the Federal Courthouse where we called for the appointment of the ombudsman and for NYCHA to immediately spend the $50 million in ventilation repair funds that we pushed them to allocate.

Given this development, we now have more potential than ever to hold NYCHA accountable to make New York City’s public housing a decent place to live for all tenants.


  • Editorial Opinion: New York’s Public Housing Isn’t Getting Better
    On July 30th, the NY Times published an Editorial laying out the ongoing problems in New York City’s public housing. This was informed by interviews with several Metro IAF NY tenant leaders, including Bernard Smith from South Bronx Churches who is quoted in the editorial.

Durham CAN Leaders Break Ground on Affordable Housing

Durham CAN leaders, local investors and elected officials broke ground on the Willard Street Apartments. A mixed-use development, Willard Street Apartments, near the main bus station in Durham, NC, is set to encompass 39 one- and 43 two-bedroom apartments, ranging between 674 and 1,047 square feet. Monthly rents will start at $310 and go as high as to $840, with three-quarters of the units set aside for households earning less than 60 percent of AMI and the remaining reserved for those making less than 30 percent of AMI. Ten percent of the apartments will be built at ADA standards and The Durham Housing Authority has committed 21 project-based vouchers to very low-income residents.

"This development was envisioned more than five years ago by Durham CAN as part of a Countywide campaign aimed at using city-owned properties in walking distance of bus stops where affordable housing could be built. "

Durham CAN leaders flexed their people’s power muscle to win a commitment from the City to use this property located in exclusive downtown for the construction of affordable housing.


BUILD Groundbreaking illustrates the Power of Organized People and Organized Money

On August 20th in east Baltimore, ReBUILD Johnston Square, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) and our development firm, ReBUILD Metro, celebrated breaking ground on a 60 unit, $16.5 million affordable apartment building on the corner of Greenmount and Chase. Ms. Regina Hammond, President of ReBUILD Johnston Square and BUILD Leader, chaired the action and welcomed all of our partners and the community and announced, “We are here as our NEXT STEP on our journey to rebuilding Johnston Square to serve as a model for all the goodness that occurs when we all lock arms and organize together to REBUILD Baltimore. There is no stopping us!”

GBIO & MAHA join forces to Win $3.8 Million for New Homeownership Program

Mayor Martin Walsh and MAHA leaders celebrating $3.8 million in CPA funds for affordable homeownership.

900 people gathered at an event organized by Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) ally, Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA) on July 18th to celebrate the award of $3.8 million in Community Preservation Act funds to assist low-to-moderate income first-time homebuyers through the ONE+Boston mortgage program. The program, created by MAHA, GBIO and the City of Boston, will assist homebuyers through a combination of lower interest rates and enhanced down-payment assistance. Mayor Martin Walsh announced the award and recognized the program as “an investment in Boston's future that strengthens homeownership and gives residents a chance to buy a home in the neighborhoods they love.”

Anne Arundel Connecting Together Acts on Housing and Gun Safety

On June 13, over 550 members and affiliates of Anne Arundel Connecting Together packed into Asbury United Methodist Church in downtown Annapolis, Maryland. Front row was Mayor of Annapolis Gavin Buckley, County Executive Steuart Pittman, members of the county council, and other county officials. ACT organized around the issues of gun safety and affordable housing and demanded action.

Woodside Gardens resident Barbara Poston reads demands on the behalf of her neighbors to Fairstead Vice President Bobby Byrd. Fairstead owns Woodside Gardens. (Danielle Ohl / Capital Gazette)
ACT currently has 27 member and friend organizations including diverse faith groups, the local NAACP chapter, and Lighthouse (a homeless prevention support center). In the prior months, ACT led county-wide door-knocking campaigns, relational meetings, listening sessions, trainings, and education. ACT leaders met with county officials in advance of the action.
As a result of listening sessions and door-knocking, ACT leaders organized around the poor living conditions and mismanagement at subsidized apartment complex Woodside Gardens. At the June 13 action, ACT leaders living at Woodside Gardens spoke of the unlivable state of their apartments and the inadequate response of management. Invited before them was a representative of the managing company, Fairstead Affordable. After some wavering, the representative committed to address the issues raised by residents. These residents have subsequently met with management.
In May, ACT hosted an education event on Metro IAF’s Do Not Stand Idly By, a plan of action for promoting gun safety. In attendance were the County Executive, chief of police, and a representative of the state’s attorney office. Rabbi Joel Mosbacher spoke about the campaign and members of ACT committed support. On June 13, county officials agreed to support Do Not Stand Idly By. Following the action, on the eve of the Capital-Gazette shooting, the County Executive and Mayor signed onto the campaign.
At the June action, county officials agreed to work with ACT on affordable housing in Anne Arundel County. ACT declared its support of a fair housing law, building workforce housing, zoning regulations, and an affordable housing trust fund. Two weeks later, over 40 ACT leaders showed up to a county council meeting where the council voted in support of a bill to build workforce housing. ACT leaders continue to work with county leaders as they work on legislation.
ACT’s June 13 ACTion was ushered in by the local Unitarian Universalist Church praise band and out with a unifying prayer by a local imam. It was a celebration, as the action accomplished many wins.
Read about it HERE.


Metro IL Reclaiming Communities with $215 million in housing for Chicago & throughout state

United Power for Action and Justice, Lake County United, DuPage United, and the Fox River Valley Initiative fought hard for inclusion of substantial money for affordable housing and for specific allocation of funds for what we call “Reclaiming Communities” in two Chicago neighborhoods: Southwest Chicago and Lawndale. In a three month period, leaders held nineteen relational actions with key state legislative leaders and the Governor’s staff resulting in a win on all three fronts: $12 million for Reclaiming Southwest Chicago to move from 35 to 135 renovated homes, $3 million to initiate the Reclaiming Lawndale Initiative —starting with 2 key vacant corner buildings that will provide 50 affordable homes and an initiative to restore traditional greystone homes throughout the community and $200 million for the creation of affordable housing throughout the state.  These dollars can be used to end homelessness, to provide housing for families, seniors, or individuals with physical or mental disabilities, or to reclaim more communities.

WIN Celebrates Affordable Housing Grand Opening

WIN leaders from all across the city came out to celebrate this affordable housing and organizing win at Parkway Overlook. 
Washington Interfaith Network (WIN) leaders have been organizing around Parkway Overlook in DC's Ward 8 for years. Since the 266-unit building was closed down by HUD in 2008 due to its crumbling conditions, it has been one of DC's largest abandominiums. The Parkway Overlook Tenant Association and three WIN member congregations—Brighter Day UMC, National UMC, and New Life Ministries—vigorously organized to get Parkway Overlook renovated and reopened. The grand opening took place April 2019. Learn more about the story HERE.