Green party candidate for Governor Howie Hawkins is calling for a massive expansion of public housing in the state in an effort to make housing more affordable. But he says it’s a different approach than the old, large-scale projects of decades past.
“Those projects just increased segregation and concentrated poverty. I’m talking about high quality housing that’s mixed income - which will help reduce segregation - that’s humanly scaled on scattered sites, not concentrated in high-rises, is built in the suburbs as well as the cities, in all neighborhoods in the cities, and is green.”
By green, he means powered by solar and wind, and heated and cooled by geothermal heat pumps. Hawkins outlined his plan on South Crouse Avenue which cuts through the former Kennedy Square public housing complex. It’s now several blocks of vacant lots. Hawkins says Cuomo’s five-year, $20 billion housing investment program has only benefited private developers and campaign donors, instead of going to municipal public housing authorities.
“There’s been little affordable housing built, but lots of pay to play corruption. In this case, both on this side of the street and on the other side, there was once over four hundred units of affordable housing, but no affordable housing has been built since this project was torn down in 2013.”
One of the empty lots serves as a staging area for a massive complex of upscale apartments on the other side of East Fayette Street aimed at Syracuse university students. Otherwise, Hawkins says, the promise of housing and commercial space to replace Kennedy Square never came to fruition.
“COR Development got this site from the Empire State Development, which had to take over the project as it degraded, via Upstate Medical University in a no bid, no money down deal. Now all the principals involved in that deal have all been caught up in pay to play corruption scandals.”
They include former Upstate President David Smith, and COR Development partners Joe Gerardi and Steve Aiello.