NYC communities fight for transit and housing rights

Elders demand transit justice

On July 24, a busload of mostly African-American elders from Co-op City in the Bronx attended a morning rally outside the Metropolitan Transit Authority hearing on service and fares. Their designated speaker explained that they have been fighting to restore bus service and make it more regular, as residents typically need to get to medical appointments twice a week.

The seniors, other community activists and hundreds of members of Transport Workers Union Local 100 were greeted by dozens of elected officials and candidates for office in several neighborhoods where unstaffed subway booths, broken elevators and service cuts endanger both safety and the local economy. Environmental activists and grassroots groups like Holding Up Great Sisters and Parents to Improve School Transportation also spoke and networked at the event.

Meanwhile, several transit workers and advocates lined up to testify at the hearings inside. The crowd outside chanted, “Release the funds! Restore our services!” in reference to cuts and layoffs made in 2010 that could now be reversed using the millions of dollars that New York state has recently awarded the MTA.

To sign petitions and learn more about making transit more accessible for all, visit www.transitforward.org.

Housing for people, not profit

On the evening of July 24, a New York City Housing Authority hearing on NYCHA’s Draft Annual Plan was packed with more than 1,000 tenants and supporters. They were responding to a call from the Good Old Lower East Side to oppose developers’ schemes proposed in the DAP. According to the GOLES leaflet, besides cuts to Section 8 housing subsidies and closing senior centers, the DAP contains more attempts “to build luxury housing on the parks and playgrounds of public housing” from the Lower East Side to Harlem in Manhattan. Other grievances against the plan include wasteful payments to city agencies such as the New York Police Department and lack of a disaster preparedness or recovery plan.  Most NYC housing projects are built precariously close to the East and Hudson rivers and were hard hit by Hurricane Sandy.

Johnnie Stevens, of Chelsea Coalition on Housing, told Workers World, “This morning’s New York Times admits that half a million people are on the waiting list for public housing, while all the city projects combined can only house about 773,000.” Stevens reflected that in order to be heard by NYCHA, “which is more sympathetic to for-profit landlords than to tenants, homeless families, community center staff or the building maintenance workers, who are represented by Teamsters Local 237,” all concerned must continue to have a united, militant presence at events in defense of public housing.