NM Affordable Housing Crisis & How Buffalo Is Addressing It

Lack of affordable housing is a national, state and local crisis and this blog describes how Buffalo has given residents control over development, dedicated land and other resources to allow development without promoting displacement. Also, an update on Dark Money in NM primaries.

Dark Money & Democracy in Action

New Energy Economy Reveals Dark Money from PNM Supporting Incumbent PRC Commissioners’ Re-Election Campaigns

New Energy Economy learned that PNM Resources gave $440,000 to “New Mexicans for Progress” an Independent Expenditure steered by Jay McCleskey, to support New Mexico Public Regulation Commissioners Sandy Jones and Lynda Lovejoy. This fundraising vehicle has attacked challengers Stephen Fischmann and Janene Yazzie.

For years, New Energy Economy has challenged the impartiality of Commission review of various Hearing Examiners’ recommended decisions. Unfortunately, for the public, Commissioners Lovejoy and Jones have consistently overturned the well-reasoned and legally based decisions of the administrative law hearing examiners to the detriment of the public and to the benefit of PNM. Indeed, since 2015 the PRC Hearing Examiners have ALWAYS sided with New Energy Economy only to have Lovejoy, Jones and Lyons disregard the Examiners and side with utilities. This has cost New Mexicans millions of dollars and has negatively impacted New Mexico land, air, and water and resulted in obscene profits for PNM. And now we learn that PNM funnels almost half a million dollars into independent efforts to support their campaigns. What kind of pay-to-play scheme is this?

Gas & Oil Dark Money Floods Trujillo (Dist. 46), Rodello (Dist. 41) and Muñoz (Land Commissioner) Campaigns.  

According to the most recent Secretary of State’s campaign finance reports, over $270K in dark money from two oil magnates (Chevron $224,000 and Mack Energy $50,000) has also flowed into campaigns supporting George Muñoz (Land Commissioner), Carl Trujillo (Dist. 46), and Debbie Rodella (Dist. 41) to fund last minute hit pieces against their challengers, candidates whose grassroots campaign budgets are dwarfed by this last minute flood of corporate money.

It is ugly my friends, ugly. So let’s change gears and look at more inspiring news.

The Las Cruces Sun News has endorsed Steve Fischmann for the Public Regulation Commission!

The Sun News editorial board notes that incumbent Sandy Jones “is a defender of the status quo – a complex, byzantine…process…that incentivizes investment over conservation.”  Sun News columnist Peter Goodman says: “Fischmann recognizes the urgency of doing all we reasonably can do to diminish our collective energy footprint – and give ratepayers a fairer shake.” And  “If I’m right that we’re on the cusp of real change, I think Fischmann has the vision to help us get there.”  You can read the full endorsement here. 

Buffalo Uses Community Land Trusts to Develop Affordable Housing Citywide

Buffalo’s Fruit Belt community was feeling the threat of a sprawling Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and the development surrounding it. Gentrification beckoned, but that community fought back, organized a Community Land Trust and then began lobbying with the Buffalo Common Council to fight against displacement. The alliance’s work with the city led to the launch of the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust, giving the residents negotiating power in working with developers. As reported in Next Cities: “Buffalo Common Council partially lifted a two-and-a-half-year moratorium on the sale of city-owned property in Buffalo’s historic Fruit Belt community, reported the Buffalo News. The action paves the way for the transfer of up to 20 vacant lots to the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust.”

“If we control the process of who purchases those lots, we will be able to control rents, we will have development without displacement of our residents. That’s what’s key,” Annette Lott, who has lived in the Fruit Belt for more than six decades, told Next City. “We want development, we want businesses, we need businesses in our community, but we don’t want to do it at the expense of dismantling what has been a viable, community spirit that we have built for many many years.”

“It empowers people to vet development in the community,” said Buffalo Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen, who represents the Fruit Belt neighborhood. “This is one of my crown jewels in my term as councilmember. To save some of the city-owned land in the Fruit Belt for low-income and working class who want to stay, it’s a good day.”

It took three years of grassroots organizing in East Side Buffalo to achieve this victory.  According to Next Cities: “It’s expected that moratoriums on the sale of some 200 more city-owned lots will be lifted as well. Prospective developments, which include both commercial and mixed-income residential projects, will be reviewed by a Fruit Belt Advisory Committee, which will then make recommendations to the city, Pridgen told the News. Click here for the full Next Cities report. It is remarkable what people can do when they work together with a common purpose.

In our research for our planned Listening Tour of the US, we have uncovered many instances of low-income communities organizing to establish Community Land Trusts and then advocating

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Election, Political Reform & National Politics

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2 replies

  1. It sounds like a very good partial solution to the larger issue of poverty and its creation and nurturing by our capitalist/neoliberal economic model. I have been trying to find out two things about Land Trusts. Who finances them and what role the people or organizations, or banks (?) that finance them play.
    Personally, I would like to see our city council pass a resolution declaring the erasing of poverty in our city. Of course, for this to happen the minimum wage should be increased to the equivalent of $25.- an hour. Since a resolution has no real power its pre-adoption process would be an interesting exercise that will show first, the position of our representatives, their rationalizations for passing it or not, and second, reveal some or all of the hidden players in city politics and economics, and their positions vis a vis poverty in our midst.

  2. I don’t see anyone asking how we got to this point here in Santa Fe. Each successive administration claimed they had a plan. The few projects they did were mostly Bait and Switches. Essentially they took Federal Money (Tax Payer Money0 and subsidized wealthy developers. The City gave all kind of incentives to wealthy developers while justifying it with the “Housing Crisis.” Some of these units were converted to Condos after a period of low income rentals. The underhanded operations of some local “Non Profits” that enriched themselves and their cronies with federal funds meant for housing, or community development. Instead of benefiting the community, they created a segregated Santa Fe. The inhumane treatment of low income people in these housing programs, going back the Coss Administration, has never been acknowledged.

    The local “Non Profits” decided that local Public Housing , just needed a coat of stucco to give the outwards appearance that things were being maintained. After the shooting of that Mentally ill man who was being evicted, no one even bothered to look at the issues there. That was in a Section 8 Property, where the Federal Government (The Tax Payers) subsidize the portion of rent that the tenant is unable to afford. Most people in Santa Fe, believe this is free housing, and the tenants have no right s at all. in fact these Section 8 properties can be lucrative for the out of state landlords that own them. The rent is guaranteed every month by the federal government, and they do not have to maintain these properties like they would for regular tenants.

    No one at Retake has noticed that there is no one from any Public Housing participating in their activities. there is good reason they are afraid. The Public Housing residents could lose their homes if they were to participate in any way. Public Housing is run like a prison, things like drug dealing, are overlooked, or encouraged while an appearance at a political event could get the wrong kind of attention. At some properties the employees engage in drug dealing, intimidation, and threats. They are very good at it they have been at if for years. They know how to control and subdue people. Most of the entitled think that a roof over their heads is good enough for the “less fortunate,” so they don’t have a problem with the soul killing, despair that goes along with these Tax Payer funded housing projects.

    This City sent a really clear message to the low income housing community with the shooting of that young man. There was not much reaction to it, there was no “Advocacy” or any assurances that it would not happen again. No one cared how the police treat this community, or looked at the lack of resources for people with mental heath issues. There are no Foundations or Non Profits dealing with any of this, whether it is the untreated or mistreated mentally ill, families with young children, or senior citizens. They are all treated the same, as non entities, losers or low income. There have been numerous incidents like the one that killed that young man. Over the years the typical response from the local non profits contracted by the state, with federal funds was “We just don’t have the resources.” They might be hyping that they did something, but the funding runs out quickly, and nothing meaningful has ever been done.

    The City claimed that NAMI was “Advocating’ for the Mentally Ill population, a couple of years before the incident. There have been numerous “Incidents” with numerous police interactions, arrests, ER admissions, and injuries. These were all swept under the rug, ignored or denied. Nothing about this improved over the years. Some of the local non profits have been around for 20 years, yet not one bothered to keep track, apply any kind of standards or improve in any way. NAMI gets money from Pharma and the St Vincent’s Foundation, so they are too compromised to even acknowledge the problem. They are mostly a bunch of retired folks, who mean well, but are no match for the bean counters at Pharma, or our large local (our of state) Non Profits. Their executives get really big salaries, and have control over our local media. No one noticed that the public has no access to even the most fundamental data on how any of this is working. Even someone getting shot 17 times was not enough motivation to get anyone asking questions. This is a basic Human Rights issue, yet this community failed this young man, and all the others exposed to this apathy and violence daily.

    There is the same apathy, ignorance and violence directed at children, yet no one in this so called community has done very much. Those kids that were burned and taken into Foster Care this week are an example. There are lot of kids just like them, their parents too overwhelmed, broken or emotionally dis-regulated to engage with them or protect them. Poverty breaks people and the way that any help is doled out, is dehumanizing. Even admitting to being “poor” is like putting a target on your back. This is Systemic in Santa Fe, and is only getting worse.

    Only occasionally is there a fire or a crime like child abuse that gets public attention, yet here are hundreds or thousand of kids living in similar circumstances.. Local Media fluffs over the issues, telling people not to be concerned there is “someone” working on it. Local politicians find that glossing over this stuff is better for their contributors, and “local business.” State Government decided that if they could just look the other way and ignore it, it might go away. The media is telling people they can just change their “Mindset’ or Pray it away. In the meantime we are seeing apocalyptic Global Warming, as the Greenwashing continues. People mindlessly plod into Whole Foods, feeling superior and above the disposable people who are negatively affected by the monopolization of everything. Amazon only recently paid state Taxes, while this state spiraled downwards and children did without, so we could subsidize the billionaires.

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