Tuesday, September 17, 2013

With ex-ACORN head Lewis backing de Blasio, a boost for Atlantic Yards housing?

Not only does Democratic Mayoral nominee Bill de Blasio, have a friendly relationship with developer Forest City Ratner, which has helped bundle campaign contributions.

His campaign also relied significantly on Bertha Lewis, the former head of New York ACORN, who signed the Atlantic Yards affordable housing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Forest City. She appeared several times, including the closing frame, in a campaign ad featuring prominent New Yorkers:

In advocating for that housing deal, Lewis has heaped blame on project opponents for delaying the project and also criticized the city for its subsidy policies, while choosing not to criticize Forest City, even though the configuration for the first tower--mostly studios and one-bedroom units--differs significantly from the 50% of floor areas devoted to larger units (two- and three-bedroom) promised in that MOU.

(The city does issue subsidies by unit, not by number of bedrooms, thus incentivizing smaller units, but NYC Housing Development Corporation officials say all parties were aware of that.)

The (speculative) upshot? Given Lewis's support for de Blasio and the latter's support for Atlantic Yards, there's a reasonable bet that if elected mayor, he will devote more city resources--even if that support is disproportionate--to subsidize Forest City's project.

In the Post

The New York Post reported yesterday that ACORN chief gets back in the game:
Bertha Lewis played critical behind-the-scenes roles in the victorious Democratic primary campaigns of both Bill de Blasio for mayor and Kenneth Thompson for Brooklyn district attorney, The Post has learned.
“We’re baacccck. The right wing will have to deal with it,” Lewis chuckled.
Lewis, a co-founder of the Working Families Party, was an early backer and adviser to de Blasio.
ACORN’s successor group, New York Communities for Change, endorsed de Blasio for mayor in early spring, and a Lewis protege, NYCC field director Harold Miller, helped run de Blasio’s field operation.
So it was no surprise that Lewis stood behind de Blasio during his primary night victory speech last Tuesday.
...Lewis is founder and president of The Black Institute, which, among things, advocates for immigrants.

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