My name is Renee Robinson and I am the duly elected Federal Housing Commissioner with the Greenburgh Housing Authority (GHA).
This is a letter regarding the removal of 30 residents from the Manhattan Avenue site, 26 of these residents are senior citizens and/or disabled people. The residents have been forced to move out of Greenburgh public housing in the middle of the Coronavirus health crisis.
GHA has also decided to do the same to approximately 100 more families living in federal HUD housing. The nation’s most vulnerable population was relocated during a global health epidemic so that a three story, 70 unit tower can be built. There is absolutely no planned return for the seniors and disabled outside of a ‘potential’ section 8 voucher.
This project was not well managed. The seniors were removed between the months of September 2020 through December 2020, during a global pandemic. They were relocated throughout Westchester to places with no heat, some are on floors in buildings with no elevator, and have limited mobility, others are living in substandard living conditions during a harsh winter.
The relocation team that was hired did not do their due diligence. The housing authority did not tell the truth to the residents. The seniors were told that:
1. The rent would be the same as they were paying
(A heating subsidy was being applied to their rent on Manhattan Ave but once they relocated it was no longer applicable, thus increasing their rent anywhere from $65-$100. The seniors have a fixed income and because of this increase adult protective services was called to help ensure food provisions.)
2. Rent would be paid as usual to the GHA
(The invoice for rent payment is to made payable to a Greenburgh Development Corp.)
3. They would receive section 8 vouchers
(They did not and some actually received another bill for $2050. These vouchers are not widely accepted in Westchester county in any event.
The Manhattan Ave seniors in a July 2020 meeting made it clear to the chairperson of the board that they no longer want the present board or the executive director in place because of how they were being treated. They actually issued a petition (to the GHA and the Greenburgh Town Board) requesting that everything be put in writing, but to no avail.
I stated in a public meeting that the executive director should send a letter to the seniors explaining the rent increase. He agreed, but didn’t comply and would not enter my oral statement in the monthly minutes even after several request to correct the minutes. The GHA board has not made him do so.
Now the board and a consultant, want to relocate the rest of the residents in federal housing. There are 5 federal sites remaining. They are located in Elmsford, Hartsdale, Tarrytown, Ardsley and Greenburgh (Greenvale Circle).
The GHA board initially selected one resident from each site last year to meet with the consultant who was to explain the RAD relocation process.
Last year a company was hired to inspect the residents units, they even took pictures of their homes.
The summary was that the structure wasn’t that bad and they could renovate the homes with the residents being displaced for two weeks at the most. Now a year later there is a whole new agenda. Inspections were done against our protest (some residents were ill or quarantined).
It was determined we would be displaced for two months to a year.
GHA personnel dropped recertification papers at our doors (they are normally mailed) and only gave us a two week notice in which to comply with an interview (a date normally assigned within a two month period.
The interviews were conducted by an outside company (normally done by the GHA Federal personnel) and if you did not comply with any of their new procedures, threatening letters of eviction were given. All this during a Pandemic!!!!
The consultant that did the senior Manhattan site has also been commissioned to oversee the other 5 sites. He is getting paid very dearly.
Why weren’t bids sought under the procurement process?
Why have we gone from a two week displacement to a year displacement?
RAD went to Section 18 and then to Section 22.
What does this entail? and why weren’t the tenants apprised of this change?
What are the pros and cons of getting us away from HUD?
These questions have been asked of GHA and the consultant but they will not answer. The GHA board members have been in place for so long that they are unresponsive to the tenants needs. Only one member speaks out against the injustice being done to Greenburgh and it’s residents.
I have apprised the town board of this ongoing situation.
Help to save us, please!!!!!