Group Letter for Biden Administration on 5 World Trade Center
[Last week, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Port Authority announced that they plan to give Silverstein Properties and Brookfield Properties a 99-year lease to build luxury apartments on public land purchased with federal funds, at the last World Trade Center lot. Because this proposal requires federal government approval, we believe that we can raise this with the Biden administration and illuminate the hypocrisy in all of the other fights across the city. Please consider signing, sharing this link, and helping us spread the word: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdqdeE6cq8YD9yIlswCaAKlvJDkiwKgd5YokZexqodQs2Lkgw/viewform ]

The Honorable Marcia Fudge
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street S.W.,
Washington, DC 20410-0001

Dear Secretary Fudge,

As housing advocates, Lower Manhattan residents, and members of the September 11 community, we propose that the 5 World Trade Center site -- purchased with federal funds -- would be an ideal, highly-symbolic location to build a 100% deeply-affordable project containing thousands of new homes. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey plan, instead, to ask HUD to approve granting Silverstein Properties and Brookfield Properties a 99-year lease for a luxury residential skyscraper with 25% affordable units. We request that HUD insist on a different framework. Given the importance of the location, the complete reliance on federal funds, and the housing crisis in New York City, a firm stance here would send a powerful message to the nation and the world.

In our view, HUD should reexamine its oversight of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. After granting billions of dollars of federal money, HUD ought to insist on tangible results related to low income housing, which was a core focus of public demands in the many “listening sessions” which took place in 2002 and 2003. Instead, federal funds have been squandered on some of the most expensive, opaque, and delayed construction projects in world history, while the LMDC abandoned many of the promises it made on housing without consequence. This had measurable impact on the decline of affordability in Lower Manhattan.

Now, the LMDC is asking the federal government to permit it to alter the World Trade Center General Project Plan and allow it to spend the proceeds as a part of this deal. Since the developers Silverstein and Brookfield already control many of the surrounding properties, the Biden administration would essentially be endorsing the full conversion of the World Trade Center to the problematic Hudson Yards monopoly model.

As New Yorkers, we believe it is completely unacceptable that, in the middle of a housing crisis, the Biden administration would endorse such an inferior project completely enabled by federal money. Instead, given its stake and its control over LMDC spending, the Department of Housing and Urban Development should stand firm and negotiate a different outcome. This could become the centerpiece and the most visible result of the administration’s new approach to nonprofit and public housing.

Sincerely,

Todd Fine
President, Washington Street Advocacy Group

Esther Regelson
Resident, 109 Washington Street

Tom Angotti
Professor Emeritus, Hunter College/CUNY

Lynn Ellsworth,
President, Human-Scale NYC

Alicia Boyd
The Movement To Protect the People

Kirsten Theodos
Founder, TakeBackNYC

[~70 other advocates across New York City]
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