Affordable Housing Crisis in Northern Manhattan Prompts Protests

By DNAinfo Staff on October 9, 2012 9:58am

 Juan Felix appeared before a Community Board 12 committee on Oct. 4, 2012 to discuss high rents in Washington Heights and Inwood.
Juan Felix appeared before a Community Board 12 committee on Oct. 4, 2012 to discuss high rents in Washington Heights and Inwood.
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DNAinfo/Sherry Mazzocchi

By Sherry Mazzocchi

Special to DNAinfo.com

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Community Board 12 is gearing up to take Upper Manhattan's fight against raising rents and afforable housing issues to the streets.

The board's housing and human services committee announced that it plans to host a series of forums and marches to bring attention to the loss of affordable housing above 155th Street in Manhattan.

“We want to educate the community and create grassroots organizations,” committee chairman George Fernandez said Thursday during its monthly meeting, announcing that the committee is considering drafting a resolution to halt rent increases uptown.

Rising rents and various housing concerns were high on the agenda when the committee addressed concerns about rising rents, a lack of affordable housing construction in Washington Heights and Inwood, and what members called a "disturbing" new plan where landlords are coverting apartments into businesses.

“We see that all along Sherman Avenue,” Fernandez said. “There are businesses where there used to be first floor apartments. From our understanding, that is illegal.”

According to Juan Felix, a member of the nonprofit group Community Coalition for Housing as a Human Right who spoke to the committe last week, annual rent increases are putting tenants at risk throughout the city.

“New York City is choking tenants out because of the high cost of rent,” Felix said Thursday. “Tenants don’t have the same kind of political protections that landlords have."

CB12's Housing Task Force meeting is planned for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11, at 711 W. 168th St. Elected officials, including Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, as well as several advocacy groups are slated to attend. Bill Carbine, assistant commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, will also present at the forum.

CB12 members also plan to participate in an affordable housing march organized by Community Coalition for Housing at 5 p.m. on Oct. 23 at St. Nicholas Avenue and West 181st Street and another rally organized by Councilman Rodriguez on Sunday, Nov. 4.

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