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East New York Residents Criticize Affordable Housing Plan


HOST:  The mayor’s plan, Housing New York, promises to affordably house hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers in the next decade. But some residents in the communities that would be affected say they’re concerned that new affordable housing would be anything but. Tyler Pratt reports from Brooklyn.

((SOUND: Driving Car Interior)) (0:01)

PRATT 1: (Car Audio) Chris Banks is driving through East New York on a grey winter day.

BANKS 1: This is my block. This is the block I grew up on. That’s my Grandmother’s house, I live in the apartment over there…(0:09)

PRATT 2: Banks was born and raised here. He founded East New York United Concerned Citizens over a decade ago.  Originally it was meant to work with elderly and youth, but now it fights gentrification.

BANKS 2: We want East New York to be bigger, we want it to be great we want it to be brighter, and the people and community should determine what goes on and what goes in and it seems like that’s being eroded by under the mayor’s plan. (0:20)

PRATT 3: But the Mayor says his plan, will create opportunity for residents who are currently priced out.

MAYOR 1: It will create affordability in the midst of what is the greatest affordability crisis this city has ever experienced. It will be a central pillar in the battle against inequality. (0:22)

PRATT 4: And a battle IS being waged. The majority of borough presidents and community boards around the city have opposed key parts now at the City Council.

Why? It all depends on how you define housing affordability. Currently, affordability is calculated by the average median income from across ALL five boroughs — Not the specific neighborhoods where new housing would be built. Here’s New York’s Public Advocate Letitia (Le-TISHA) James at a Brooklyn town hall this week.

James 1: The plan is not affordable. A quote unquote affordable development in my former district of Fort Greene where if you earn $230,000 you were still eligible. That’s outrageous. His plan does not reach low-income families in the City of New York (0:24)

PRATT 5: Housing New York would require developers to set aside some units for affordable housing when they build — with incentives to create more senior housing and retail space.The mayor says this would improve neighborhoods and boost economies. But residents have doubts. Chris Banks stops by Eleanor Pinckney’s house, She’s the president of the an East New York homeowner’s association.

Pinkney 1: We’re concerned with increasing property values, taxes going up, ridership on public transportation, parking issues, school issues, police issues. (0:10)

PRATT 6: Pinckney says says East New York houses eleven of the borough’s homeless shelters. So her community’s resources are already worn thin

Pinkney 2: They need to house the people that need to be housed. Why don’t they start with trying to find housing for the people in the shelters. They’ve got people who have been living their for years. Families that can’t find housing. (0:11)

PRATT 7: Sitting at Eleanor Pinckney’s dining room table, Chris Banks says he wants good things for his community, but worries about the implications of the Mayor’s plan.

Banks 3: To me it conveys the message that nothing existed in East New York. And that they are coming into our community to build it up. A year or two ago, They talk about East New York being the new frontier. I find that very offensive, it reminds me of when they were trying to settle the west and there was nothing out there but Native Indians who were savages (:29)

PRATT 8: The mayor’s office did not respond to requests for comment. But Banks and Pinckney say they have a meeting with De Blasio this week to discuss the rezoning. Still, they’re concerned it could be too little too late.  

Tyler Pratt. Columbia Radio News.


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