From the Field: Hundreds Rally in New York City against Proposed Cuts to HUD Budget

More than 600 advocates and activists, including numerous public housing and voucher tenants, rallied on April 20 at lower Manhattan’s Federal Plaza, in front of the New York City regional HUD office, to oppose President Donald Trump’s proposed $6.2 billion cuts to the HUD budget. The rally was hosted by the No Cuts Coalition, a group of New York-based organizations led by Community Voices Heard (CVH). CVH is a community activist organization started by single mothers on public assistance in New York City more than twenty years ago. The group was created in direct response to efforts by the federal government in the mid-1990s to dismantle and divest from social welfare programs. Today CVH works to builds power to secure social, economic, and racial justice for all.

NLIHC Housing Organizer James Saucedo with activists in New York City.

NLIHC Housing Organizer James Saucedo with activists in New York City.

If Mr. Trump’s proposed cuts to the HUD budget are enacted, as many as 200,000 low income households across the country—seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and low- and moderate-wage workers—will be at immediate risk of eviction and homelessness. In New York City, Mr. Trump’s budget proposal would represent a projected 20% cut in operating subsidies to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which would lead to delays in addressing desperately needed apartment maintenance repairs, the elimination of as many as 1,200 construction and maintenance jobs on NYCHA properties, and the loss more than 7,400 Housing Choice Vouchers. 

Several local and federal elected officials spoke at the rally, including New York City Council Members Ritchie Torres, Jumaane Williams, Brad Lander, and Ben Kallos; New York City Council candidate Carlina Rivera; and U.S. Representatives Nydia Velazquez (NY-7) and Carolyn Maloney (NY-12).

In an act of civil disobedience, some rally participants began demonstrating beyond police barricades, blocking traffic on Broadway. New York City police officers arrested eight demonstrators, including CVH Executive Director Afua Atta-Mensah, CVH NYC Chapter Lead Organizer Gabriel Strachota, Reverend Johnny Ray Youngblood, and New York City Council Member Ritchie Torres.

“Yesterday, a diverse group of New Yorkers gathered to protest HUD cuts,” said Rachel Fee, executive director of the New York Housing Conference. “Public housing residents, union workers, community leaders, religious leaders, elected officials and concerned citizens all had the same message for President Trump: ‘No cuts to housing programs.’ With skyrocketing rents and record levels of homelessness, we need more investment in housing resources, not less. New Yorkers stand unified in opposition to the Trump budget.”

“Our tenants have been raring to go for a while, and it was great to have so many HUD tenants come out and show that New York City is going to fight these devastating proposed cuts,” said Jen Berkley, subsidized housing lead organizer at the New York State Tenants & Neighbors Coalition (Tenants & Neighbors), an NLIHC state partner. “Tenants & Neighbors is an integral part of this fight - as we know how much our HUD tenants depend on these programs and services to survive in a city with such a high cost of living. We came out in full force at the #NoCuts Rally, standing in solidarity with our neighbors in public housing and will fight alongside them for as long as it takes to send a strong, clear message to the White House: These cuts are bad for all HUD tenants and bad for our country.” Tenants & Neighbors is a No Cuts Coalition member, and Ms. Berkley was part of the organizing team coordinating the rally.

Thousands gather to here speakers rally support for equitable tax reform and tax transparency of public officials.

Hundreds gather for the "No Cuts" Rally in New York City, April 20, 2017.

"Conditions in New York City public housing are already making residents sick [due to numerous documented cases of mold and lead in NYCHA homes]," says Gabe Strachota, lead organizer at CVH and coordinator of the rally. "New York City is already one of the least affordable places to live - and that's without Mr. Trump's proposed budget cuts. So when our leaders heard about the proposed $6 billion cuts to the HUD budget, they decided they couldn't sit out the fight and initiated a broad #NoCuts coalition of faith groups, organized labor, community organizations and elected officials. The April 20 action got us off to a good start with over 600 people attending and nine participating in civil disobedience. We're looking forward to building with partners across the country to build the kind of massive resistance that will be necessary to defeat the Trump agenda in housing and beyond."

For more information contact, Gabriel Strachota at [email protected]