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Affordable Housing Protesters Say Mayor's Plan Leaves Poor Behind

By Rosa Goldensohn | September 22, 2015 11:00am
 Activists gathered to protest the mayor's affordable housing plan.
Activists gathered to protest the mayor's affordable housing plan.
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DNAinfo/Rosa Goldensohn

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A planned affordable housing program in Brooklyn is too expensive for the city's working poor and its construction does not create good enough jobs, a coalition of local activists said Monday.

Local residents and members of Make the Road New York joined various community groups and union construction workers at a rally outside City Point, Fulton Mall's new affordable housing tower that is mostly designated for people making up to 165 percent of the area median income.

They're pushing for an alternate affordable housing plan that would build homes for people earning less than 50 percent of the area median income and would create "career-oriented" union construction jobs for local residents.

Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for the mayor, said the administration does "strive to build with union labor wherever possible."

"Creating more economic opportunity for New Yorkers is a priority in everything we do," he said. "We're in good faith talks with the building trades about increasing opportunities in affordable housing as well.”

The protest coincided with a press conference across the street in which residents of the Ingersoll Houses blamed recent violence on the lack of jobs available to young men.

Public Advocate Letitia James said that they should have access to construction jobs.

"Why is it that individuals that live on one side of Flatbush Avenue cannot enjoy the benefits of the other side of Flatbush Avenue, all the development in Downtown Brooklyn?” James asked.

The coalition Real Affordability for All also argued that the income requirements and rents on the city's planned affordable housing are too high.

“The mayor’s plan isn’t really tackling the needs of the community,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, a spokeswoman for the coalition.

The coalition says the city's mandatory inclusionary zoning plan "is an insufficent response to the scope and severity of the affordability crisis."

"Bottom line: current residents in low-income communities of color will not be the beneficiaries of new housing required under mandatory inclusionary zoning," the group said.

"New so-called affordable housing will overwhelmingly go to wealthier, whiter outsiders — people who come from other neighborhoods."

Longtime East New York resident Lorna Blake said she has already seen rising rents push her neighbors out.

“I’m scared one morning I’m gonna get up and all my neighbors and everyone I grew up with is moved,” she said.

She doesn't think her neighbors can afford the city's new affordable housing. “We don’t make that kind of money," she said.

"The incomes that we make are so low, no neighborhood would take us in."