A master plan for gentrifying El Barrio, NYC…


Mayor Bill De Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito have betrayed El Barrio. Under the cover of “creating affordable housing,” they are planning to stuff tens of thousands of new luxury housing residents into El Barrio, NYC.

At the same time, they are zoning the more “glamorous” areas of El Barrio, so that working class Latinos will not be able to live in them. In effect, they are gentrifying East Harlem.

This has shocked the people of El Barrio, because the core pledge of Melissa’s council campaign was to “stop the gentrification” of El Barrio.

Here is an example of the “affordable housing plan” which Melissa and Mayor De Blasio have devised.
It is called East River Plaza:

Built on top of a Home Depot, the East River Plaza mega-project will have three towers: 47, 41 and 32 stories tall, with respective heights of 575, 515 and 455 feet.

The towers will create 1,100 apartments and import thousands of people into El Barrio. The builders claim that a few “affordable” apartments will be made available to neighborhood residents…after numerous apartment buildings are seized via eminent domain, and destroyed to make way for the project.

It is thus unclear how much new housing – if any – will actually be created for the residents of El Barrio.

The local response to this mega-project has been, at best, suspicious. Many residents are strenuously opposing it.

A consortium of community groups – El Barrio Unite – has held massive opposition rallies, City Hall press conferences, and has its own web site.

Here is a video showing a broad level of opposition.

Just last night in Taino Towers, at 240 E. 123rd street, nearly three hundred El Barrio residents convened to oppose the “Up-zoning Plan” for their neighborhood. Here is a video of some of the demonstrators.

Clearly, the people of El Barrio are unwilling to be duped, deceived, and displaced from their own homes.

The alliance of Mayor De Blasio and Councilwoman Viverito, their plan to gentrify El Barrio, and their motives for doing it, will be further examined tomorrow in Part II of “A master plan for gentrifying El Barrio, NYC.”

‘Gentrification is the new colonialism’…



It’s no secret that Bushwick’s been fiercely gentrifying for some time now, having won the approval of both Vogue and SantaCon organizers over the years. But one lifelong resident is so sick of watching developers try to push her and her neighbors out that she’s decided to wage war with the visual power of Christmas lights.

DNAinfo reported on the efforts of one Pati Rodriguez, who has lived most of her 33 years in a house on Greene Avenue. Rodriguez says she’s been inundated with calls from developers who’ve been trying to purchase her home, presumably to turn it into an overpriced condo building complete with an offensive name. Fellow community members, she says, have suffered the same, and she’s over it—she’s enlisted a number of long-time residents, including homeowners, tenants and small business owners, in hanging up anti-gentrification signs lit with Christmas lights outside their homes and establishments.

“We’ve been living in our home here in Bushwick since I was eight or 9 years old. My mother has been receiving letters from real estate developers for the last eight years,” Rodriguez told us. “They’re calling her at work to get her to sell her house, but where are we going to go? We understand that land is power, we don’t want to sell our home.”

Rodriguez, who is an active member of the Mayday Space artist collective in Bushwick, began collecting some of the flyers and letters from developers, initially planning to make a collage to post outside her home. “It was just going to be a piece I was going to do with my daughter,” she said. But other activists and community members expressed interest, and Rodriguez ended up getting connected with the NYC Light Brigade, who’ve been involved in a number of protest projects in the city, and came up with the idea for the lights as a form of protest. The project is dubbed Mi Casa No Es Su Casa.

About two businesses and about 15 households posted lights with anti-gentrification messages outside their homes, and though Rodriguez says some were uncomfortable about keeping them up for more than a day out of fear of angering landlords, Rodriguez says this is just the beginning. The group plans to film testimonials featuring individuals who are being displaced, for instance, and more projects are up ahead. “They’re trying to drive us all out,” she said, referring to developers. “Poor people are being driven out of all the boroughs of New York City, we’re just one of the first places that was hit hard a few years ago.”

And though Rodriguez says they’re not specifically targeting gentrifiers—”We’re attacking the developers, we’re attacking the people who are coming here to flip our houses,” she said—she does hope the project reminds moneyed newcomers to the neighborhood that their arrival has real side-effects. “Because you’re willing to pay these higher rents, we’re getting displaced,” she said. “Your luxury is our displacement.”

Nearly 50,000 East New York residents face displacement under rezoning plan…

Gentrification run amok… >>

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s bold plan to build 200,000 affordable units in New York City over the next ten years was designed to serve as a protective measure against resident displacement. Unfortunately, it’s turning out that the one-size-fits-all prophylactic it was intended for may do more harm than good.

First, let’s look at the word “affordable.” Affordable for whom?

For example, the Brooklyn neighborhood of East New York– already deemed the next new target for mass development (read: gentrification)– is first up on the mayor’s list for rezoning for affordable housing. However, according to a report released today by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, these so-called affordable units (at around $1,300/mo), by the City’s own standards would be too expensive for 55 percent of the neighborhood’s current residents.

“There’s nothing affordable about a housing plan that is beyond the reach of half the community,” said Stringer.

And unlike neighborhoods like Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, which have enforceable rent regulation laws, and Greenpoint and Williamsburg which have enforceable rules prohibiting tenant harassment, East New York has zero protection for 21,788 units that house low-income tenants. In other words, once the rezoning and development is completed, it will potentially displace close to 50,000 of its current residents.

The number of rent stabilized units in the 37th Council District (which includes part of East New York and the surrounding communities) already has dropped by more than 14 percent between 2007 and 2014 —the eighth largest decline among the City’s 51 Council Districts. The rezoning will only add fuel to the fire.

Stringer noted that for generations, East New York has been overlooked and under-resourced by the City in the way of its schools, parks, public transit and affordable housing. He added, the City’s new plan to add a large number of so-called affordable and market rate units would make matters worse by effectively pushing more than half of its residents right out of the neighborhood.

According to the report, the rezoning plan would add a total of 6,312 new apartments to the neighborhood. However just 1,724 of these would be affordable rental units available to existing neighborhood residents, and in certain circumstances that number could drop to low as 948 units.

The report shows East New York’s Area Median Income (AMI) at $32,815. Using City and State metrics which define an affordable rent as 30 percent of income, a family of three would have to earn at least $46,620 a year to afford one of the new units– a difference of nearly $14,000 between what it would cost and what a family actually earns.

Further, for that same family to move into a market-rate unit in that same new building, it would have to make upwards of $83,484 – more than double the current AMI in East New York and still far beyond the median income for Brooklyn, which was $47,520 in 2013.

Comptroller Stringer shared the data with the City Planning Commission on Wednesday, along with a letter addressed to the commission’s Chair Carl Weisbrod: “Instead of strengthening the affordability of this community, the proposed rezoning would serve as an engine for displacement,” said Stringer in the letter.

The Comptroller urged the commission to “amend the current proposal and chart an alternate course,” one that abandons the one-size-fits-all approach to rezoning based off a citywide standard and instead takes into full account the income levels of each local community.

Another recommendation was to included establishing clear, enforceable rules prohibiting the harassment of existing tenants to reduce the threat of displacement.

“We have to do this right,” said Stringer. “One-size-fits-all doesn’t work for New York City. We must find ways to ensure community-based development is the way we move forward together.

“When it comes to urban planning, we need to do a better job of listening to existing communities, engaging residents, and considering the long term impact of rezoning on the people who have lived in our neighborhoods most, if not all, of their lives.”

Listening to and engaging the current, local residents in the planning process.

How about that? Maybe it made too much sense.

*To read the full report, go here.*