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NYCHA chair defends plans to sell stake in public housing from City Council criticism

City Council members complained Tuesday they were shut out of talks between the New York City Housing Authority and private developers in a deal to sell a stake in six publicly owned buildings.

Plans to sell 50 percent stakes in six especially dilapidated NYCHA properties to L+M Development Partners and BFC Partner were announced in early December as a way to help the cash-strapped agency pay for ongoing repairs.

But Council members said they weren't consulted about the deal that could turn federally subsidized Section 8 apartments into market-rate homes after 30 years.

"So in essence, we're having a hearing just to be having a hearing because this is already done." said Brooklyn Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo.

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NYCHA Chairwoman and CEO Shola Olatoye affirmed: "This is done."

Even the lawmakers who were aware of the plan still criticized NYCHA for a lack of communication about the plan.

"There's lots of questions when you don't have transparency," said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. "It's fair to ask how were these developers recruited and vetted."

Beyond transparency, lawmakers questioned previous claims of L+M's hiring contractors who later caught violating worker pay and safety regulations. Public Advocate Letitia James urged the city and developers to hire union workers for the development project.

Olatoye defended the deal, which secured $360 million to repair and upgrade 875 subsidized apartments.

The 10 buildings in question are spread out between Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Some are tenement buildings, including as Millbank-Frawley and the East 120th Street Rehab in upper Manhattan, as well as East 4th Street Rehab in the Lower East Side.

Three properties are high-rise developments: lower Manhattan's Campos Plaza I, Bedford-Stuyvesant's Saratoga Square and Mott Haven's Bronxchester Houses.

"For those families it's actually a very good day," she said. "It's a good day that they have a roof that doesn't leak a kitchen that doesn't work and a toilet that flushes."

 
 
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