MANHATTAN (PIX11) — Tensions boiled over Wednesday night during a community meeting about the future of the Fulton and Elliott-Chelsea Houses.
In June, NYCHA announced a $1.5 billion plan to demolish and rebuild the complex with private developers, but tenants fear they’ll be left homeless.
Both NYCHA and Essence Development representatives were at the meeting to listen to input from tenants who are both for and against the proposal. But it was hard to have a productive meeting or hear residents’ concerns as the situation grew contentious.
A chorus of clashing voices created chaos before and during the meeting about the future of the houses. One man was forcibly removed by police.
The tension stems from a proposed plan to demolish the 2,000-plus units of the Fulton and Elliott-Chelsea Houses and rebuild taller. The new construction would create an additional 15 hundred units of both market rate and affordable housing, plus commercial and retail space.
Essence Development, the private developers on the project, promise apartments with upgraded amenities, including dishwashers, in-unit laundry and temperature control and better community and recreational spaces. Some residents will also receive temporary housing during demolition.
NYCHA guaranteed tenant rent would continue being calculated in the same way. But many tenants said they don’t trust the promises.
“You think that these $1 million apartments, he’s gonna want $700 for one? Not true,” said resident Jacquelin Lara.
“We’re gonna have a lot of homelessness in this city,” said resident Alixa Cruz.
Others said changes are needed, and the buildings are beyond band-aid repairs.
“They don’t want change, but you’ve gotta come to the meetings and understand what’s going on,” said resident Mary Jones. “We need change.”
“Y’all are not letting the process happen. Y’all are not allowing them to give us the opportunity for new,” said one tenant at the meeting. “We deserve this! Who wants to die like this?!”
NYCHA said the tenants themselves voted in favor of the reconstruction plan.
“After an unprecedented resident engagement campaign beginning in 2019 and extensive information sessions, Fulton and Elliott-Chelsea residents have made their voices heard and helped shape a plan for the future of their developments.”
Tenant president Miguel Acevedo said his neighbor’s fears are unfounded.
“They don’t have a worry in the world to worry about,” said Acevedo. “It’s guaranteed.”