Sunday, June 29, 2014

Forest City grants $250,000 for tenant protection in Community Districts 2, 3, 6, and 8

One additional piece of the Atlantic Yards settlement announced Friday, according to a BrooklynSpeaks press release:
Finally, under the terms of a separate agreement with FCRC [Forest City Ratner Companies], the developer [via its Atlantic Yards Development Company, or AYDC] will contribute $250,000 towards a newly-created Atlantic Yards Tenant Protection Fund expected to be administered by the Brooklyn Community Foundation. The Fund will provide grants to local nonprofit organizations offering eviction prevention and anti-displacement services to low and moderate income residents of Brooklyn community districts 2, 3, 6 and 8.
That $250,000 is a one-time contribution. It's not an insignificant sum, and surely will do some good. But it's hardly a commitment on Forest City's part to help "solve Brooklyn's affordable housing crisis," as the developer once claimed Atlantic Yards would accomplish.

After all, the scale of the challenge is huge, given the number of landlords who are trying to move rent-stabilized units to market rates and the steady displacement and gentrification disclosed in the Atlantic Yards environmental review.

It's a relatively minor expenditure for Forest City Ratner, which spends far more on annual lobbying, for example, and need no longer fund groups like the now-defunct Community Benefits Agreement signatory Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development, or BUILD.

Playing nice

As a condition to receiving funds, according to the letter below from Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin, grant recipients most promise that no funds received from the tenant protection fund will support "any lobbying or litigation efforts" in opposition to AYDC or its affiliates.

Also note that, while the agreement was signed with members of Brooklyn Speaks, Gilmarin has made sure that its affordable housing partner--the successor to ACORN--is included:
"As we have discussed, AYDC would like to include Mutual Housing Association of New York (MHANY), given its experience in housing matters and its participation in the Community Benefits Agreement dated June 27, 2005 between AYDC and various community groups, in an on-going dialogue with the community to develop a strategy which would address issues such as tenant assistance and economic integration."
MHANY, along with BrooklynSpeaks negotiators the Fifth Avenue Committee and the Pratt Area Community Council (which signed the settlement with Forest City) will establish guidelines for the fund. It's not clear if the groups--which are qualified for such tenant work--are eligible for grants.

Forest City Commits $250K to tenant displacement

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