NY City Councilman Torres, Activist Atta-Mensah, Arrested Protesting Trump Housing Cuts
(Left to right) Community Voices Heard (CVH)Executive Director Afua Atta-Mensah, City Councilman Ritchie Torres, CVH Lead Organizer Gabriel Strachota, Rev. Johnny Ray Youngblood, CVH Member Rose Fernandez, Candidate for City Council Celina Rivera (D2-The Bronx)
City Councilman Ritchie Torres, Community Voices Heard (CVH) Executive Director Afua Atta-Mensah, CVA Lead Organizer Gabriel Strachota and the Rev. Johnny Ray Youngblood were arrested protesting President Trump’s proposed federal housing cuts today.
In an act of Civil Disobedience, the group refused to stop protesting beyond police barricades during a major demonstration by thousands at Foley Square. Trump’s proposal to cut $6.2 billion in federal housing funds would decimate programs that help millions of low-income Americans keep a roof over their heads.
Community Voices Heard, a community activist organization started by single mothers on public assistance in NYC more than two decades ago, was at the forefront of the #NoCuts Coalition rally, along with U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, Assemblywoman Marisol Alcantara, and the leaders of several dozen grassroots, civic and labor organizations.
If enacted, Trump’s cuts to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would put hundreds of thousands of Americans in immediate danger of losing their homes in public housing developments or privately owned buildings. Others would continue to live in unhealthy sub-par conditions because repairs would be further delayed, and critical upgrades would be cancelled for lack of funding. Such conditions include the persistent existence of mold in NYC Housing Authority apartments, which is caused by leaky roofs and faulty pipes in buildings that are 70 years old.
“Public housing is critical affordable housing, and all levels of government should be increasing financial support, not drastically reducing it,” Alcantara said. “NYC already is the throes of a homeless crisis because so many families, and single adults, can’t afford rents. Cutting HUD funds would force many more New Yorkers, including senior citizens, veterans and the disabled, into the streets and shelters. Trump’s cuts would be crippling blow to our efforts to make New York City more affordable for working families.”
Trump’s funding cuts would cause an estimated 20% reduction in the operating subsidies to the New York City Housing Authority. Projects likely to be scrapped include replacement of old boilers, resulting in even more breakdowns, and even more days without heat or hot water. Tenants would have to find other housing after five years. Thousands of rent-subsidy vouchers would be eliminated.
“When Donald Trump campaigned before black and inner-city communities, he always raised the question “What have you got to lose?” David R. Jones, President and CEO of the Community Service Society, said. “Now that he’s been elected, the answer is clear: New York’s housing safety net is at grave risk under this president, whose policies would further marginalize public housing residents by choking off critically-needed federal funds. Without this federal commitment, the future of New York’s greatest affordable housing resource, and home to more than a half a million primarily low-income New Yorkers, looks bleaker than ever.”
NYC neighborhoods like Red Hook, Brooklyn, will be hit extremely hard by this proposal, Jill Eisenhard, Founder and Executive Director of Red Hook Initiative (RHI), said: “It is hard to conceive how the Red Hook community will survive the proposed budget cuts when its public housing residents already live in unsafe and unhealthy conditions. In the past year, NYCHA has finally made progress to address apartments with critical, harmful levels of mold. We cannot afford to take a single step backward."
The #NoCuts Coalition is comprised of the following groups and individuals:
Community Voices Heard; U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer; Manhattan North District Council of Presidents; Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA); New York Communities for Change; The Black Institute; CASA-New Settlement; MFY Legal Service; Coalition for the Homeless; Pratt Center for Community Development; Neighbors Helping Neighbors; Center for NYC Neighborhoods; GOLES; FUREE; Legal Aid Society; Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition; CAAAV; Brooklyn For Peace; WE ACT for Environmental Justice; Community Service Society; Center for NYC Neighborhoods; Transport Workers Union Local 100 ; National Action Network; Racial & Economic Justice; Red Hook Initiative; Goddard Riverside Community Center; Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ); DC37; Picture The Homeless ; Greater New York LECET; Unique People Service; United Neighborhood Houses ; Supportive Housing Network of New York ; Carroll Gardens Association ; NYC Democratic Socialists of America; NYC Councilman Torres ; Grand St. Settlement; Justice for All. Berning Green ; New York State Tenants and Neighbors ; LiveOn NY; Banana Kelly ; Greater New York ; LECET; Working Families Party; DEMOS; ANHD; and, LiUNA Local 7.