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Groups Promise Civil Disobedience if Mayor's Zoning Plan Isn't Changed

By Jeff Mays | February 23, 2016 4:43pm
 Groups protesting Mayor Bill de Blasio's affordable housing plan say they will perform acts of civil disobedience if changes aren't made to make proposed housing more affordable.
Groups Protesting De Blasio Affordable Housing Plan Civil Disobedience
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CITY HALL — Groups protesting Mayor Bill de Blasio's affordable housing plan say they will perform acts of civil disobedience if changes aren't made to make the proposal helpful to more low income New Yorkers.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside City Hall on Broadway Tuesday to once again protest de Blasio's plan to create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing and said they would plan acts of civil disobedience in the same location on Wednesday, March 9.

"Families are willing to take arrests, to put their bodies on the line, to do civil disobedience if this plan does not change for the people of this city," said Jonathan Westin, director of New York Communities for Change and a member of the Real Affordability for All Coalition.

READ MORE: Here's What You Need to Know About the Mayor's Citywide Rezoning Plan

Under the Zoning for Quality and Affordability proposal, the parking requirements for affordable housing would be eliminated while allowing for taller buildings to increase affordable housing.

Mandatory Inclusionary Housing would require some new construction to include a certain amount of permanently affordable housing.

The City Planning Commission approved the zoning changes and the City Council is now examining the plan and have also raised issues about affordability. Community boards across the city widely rejected the proposed changes.

The income guidelines to qualify for the housing leaves too many New Yorkers out, protesters said.

"Who here makes $70,000 per year?...Who here makes $120,000 a year? Cause that's what the people in City Hall are considering affordable for our communities," Westin said. "The only people it's affordable to is the developers that are lining their pockets with the profits and millions and billions they will make off this plan."

City Councilman Ben Kallos also criticized the plan.

"We are asking for this affordable housing plan to have deeper levels of affordable housing," said Kallos, who also called for workers constructing the buildings to be paid a living wage "so that those who build our affordable housing can live in that affordable housing."

City Hall officials point out that over the first two years of de Blasio's term, 40,000 units of affordable housing have been built or preserved.

A total of 15,382 units have been built or preserved for the extremely low income, the very low income and the low income, officials said. The income guidelines for those categories range from $25,150 to $67,120 for a family of four.

Officials also say there will be opportunities for deeper affordability via city subsidies as specific building projects take shape.

But protesters such as Rachel Rivera, a member of New York Communities for Change, says she and her six kids have been pushed out of both Bushwick and Bedford Stuyvesant due to rising rents.

Rivera said she now lives with her children in a one bedroom apartment in East New York because that's all she can afford.

"[De Blasio] needs to make affordable housing affordable for myself and for people that are in my same predicament, people that are struggling, people that are homeless and on a fixed income," Rivera said. "If this mayor does not change this plan to make it real affordable, I will be doing civil disobedience with my kids."