Habitat NYC Written Comments for City Planning Commission

In addition to public testimony at the City Planning Commission hearing held on March 13, 2019, Habitat for Humanity New York City submitted the following comments and previously released statement on the “alternative site” published by the development team to the Haven Green website entitled “There is No Alternative.” This piece addresses the claim that housing should be built instead on a site in a different neighborhood a mile away on the site controlled by DEP containing critical municipal water infrastructure.

The Haven Green published statement articulates how Fair Housing and equitable development strategies make this piece of land in this neighborhood a matter of social, economic, and racial justice. We encourage all stakeholders to read it to better understand that there is no viable alternative should the city be serious about both tackling housing and inequality. These are the primary drivers of Habitat NYC’s involvement as highlighted in my in-person testimony

Of note and often incorrectly asserted in the contrary, Habitat NYC’s partnership in this project preceded our inclusion as the anchor tenant and has nothing to do with our mission-based support. Haven Green began as an opportunity for Habitat to reach a sector of community that we have not previously been able to serve – extremely-low and very-low-income seniors- in a high-opportunity neighborhood .

The “community facility space” to be leased to Habitat NYC can only be utilized by a short list of qualified community entities including not-for-profits and has been specifically highlighted as a benefit of the project by the Manhattan Borough President. Our presence provides additional community benefit through not only our housing preservation and community revitalization programs, but providing a shared meeting space designated for use by local community groups as well as those engaged in the stewardship of the open green space.

We see this project as a compromise and opportunity for all stakeholders to come together in service of multiple neighborhood needs. By doing so, we will provide more than 123 low-income and formerly homeless seniors homes they will utilize 100% of the time and the neighborhood accessibility to more publicly-accessible green space then was available when the site was announced for housing development less than 6 years ago. Additionally, we believe the development of the site will provide cumulatively more access to green and open space by square foot once hours of access are factored into consideration.

While we empathize with those who feel passionately about the space as it currently is, through our participatory design and ongoing community engagement efforts, we believe the future space and site will become a cherished, local oasis as well as home to generations of low-income, LGBTQ+, and formerly homeless seniors.