Volume 17 • Issue 36 | February 4 - 10, 2005

I.P.N. tenants join City Hall housing rally

Downtown Express photo by Robert Stolarik
Affordable housing advocates outside City Hall.

By Zachary Roy

About 30 Independence Plaza North tenants marched on Wednesday afternoon from their Greenwich St. housing complex to City Hall, where they joined several thousand people representing various community groups from all five boroughs in a housing rally.

Diane Lapson, president of the I.P.N. Tenants Association, said the tenants fear that the Bush administration will cut housing funds, which could result in a loss of “sticky vouchers” that subsidize their rent. She said this year’s mayoral race may be a way to get insurance against federal budget cuts.

“We feel that it’s an election year coming up, and we have to express our concerns that, especially if the war continues, the funding for the sticky vouchers will be cut and where will 1,500 people go?” Lapson said.

Last July, I.P.N. president Laurence Gluck removed the 1,340-unit development from the Mitchell-Lama program. In its place, about half of the complex’s families were given “sticky vouchers,” a program in which the federal government subsidizes housing costs for households earning less than 95 percent of the median income

The tenants want Mayor Mike Bloomberg and other city officials to pledge to allocate funds to secure the vouchers should federal funding be cut.

Vouchers were one of several issues that drew thousands of demonstrators from about 30 different community groups to City Hall. Using money generated in Battery Park City for affordable housing, rent stabilization, and tenants’ rights were all issues addressed at the rally. The groups share the goal of making housing the major issue of the upcoming mayoral campaign.

I.P.N. Tenant Association vice president, John Scott, said that they were marching to support all of the groups, but protecting existing affordable housing is the most cost-effective solution.

“To build more affordable housing would cost multiples of four,” he said. “So our thing is to preserve affordable housing. We built the communities. We need the city to step forward and guarantee that we’ll stay here.”

Not all of the I.P.N. tenants who marched on Wednesday receive vouchers, but those who do not were there to support those who rely on them to stay in the increasingly pricey neighborhood.

“We’re here to tell the city planners that the working class are the people who keep the city running,” Lapson said. “But little by little they’re eliminating the ability for the working class to live in the city. It’s weird city planning, because if you think of the future, where do the workers live?”

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