Pro Bono Opportunity – Pro Bono Placement – Legal Aid Society – Bedford Union Armory

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The Bedford Union Armory has been a part of Crown Heights since 1905. The City, which owns the site, is proposing a redevelopment plan which would lease the site to a developer in order to build 50% luxury and 50% “affordable” units. Since 2011, rents in Crown Heights have grown exponentially, as have the number of shelter entrants from that neighborhood. According to Pro Publica, nearly 10,000 people have been evicted from apartments in 11225, the zip code that is home to the Armory. The current scoping for the Bedford Union Armory ignores real problems in the neighborhood – like the pressing affordable housing crisis. This while the Mayor’s office proposes opening three new homeless shelters in Crown Heights. The community wants 100% affordable units, and not simply in name, but actually affordable to those who live in Crown Heights currently.

Legal Aid and concerned partners in the community brought an Article 78 appeal of the City’s approval of the redevelopment plan because the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) does not adequately address secondary displacement which is required by a leading Court of Appeals case, Chinese Staff and Workers Assn. v. City of New York, 509 N.Y.S.2d 499 (1986). The failure to consider secondary residential displacement of tenants in rent regulated apartments, the lawsuit argues, renders the assessment null and void. The City Environmental Quality Review Technical Manual provides the analysis developers and the City of New York use in the FEIS.  The Technical Manual is a collection of rules, which were not properly promulgated pursuant to the City Administrative Procedure Act.  We believe that the study area is too small – only a 400-foot radius from the site of the Armory, ignoring major projects in nearby communities. As a result, it concludes that the total displacement caused by the project is insufficient to warrant further assessment or mitigation.

This project, where the majority of housing is not affordable to families currently residing in the community, and to those at the current local area median income (AMI), currently $41,867, will accelerate the existing gentrification in the neighborhood, as high priced apartments drive up rents across the area. At current AMI levels, just 15 apartments will be affordable to Crown Heights residents.

On November 30, 2017, the New York City Council completed review under the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) and approved the application for Redevelopment of the Bedford Union Armory.

A fact sheet prepared by our community partner New York Communities for Change can be found here

Interested students should contact Lou Sartori at and indicate your availability during the weeks of January 2nd, 8th and 15th 2018.

Note: This is posted as an opportunity to perform volunteer legal work.  Whether the work qualifies toward the New York State Bar 50-hour pro bono requirement is a determination made on a case-by-case basis by the Character and Fitness Committee that processes bar admission applications. For more information about the 50-hour pro bono requirement, links to the rule and FAQ document, and who to contact if you have any questions, visit the Public Interest Law Center website here: