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Bronxites Angry, Skeptical About City Council Rezoning Changes

By Eddie Small | March 15, 2016 4:35pm
 Bronxites had been extremely critical of Mayor Bill de Blasio's affordable housing proposals, but the City Council is now set to pass them after making some changes to the plans.
Bronxites had been extremely critical of Mayor Bill de Blasio's affordable housing proposals, but the City Council is now set to pass them after making some changes to the plans.
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DNAinfo/Eddie Small

THE BRONX — Bronxites reacted with anger and skepticism to news of the City Council's reversal over Mayor Bill de Blasio's affordable housing proposals that were voted down by community members across the borough.

The Council altered de Blasio's Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability proposals to make them include more affordable housing and more parking in areas with poor access to public transportation, but these changes was not enough to satisfy some Bronx leaders.

"I think the City Council really sold out and betrayed their communities," said Dr. Ian Amritt, chairman of Bronx Community Board 2, which rejected the proposals along with the 11 other community boards in the borough.

MIH would require new developments to include housing units that are permanently affordable, while ZQA would allow developers to increase the heights of buildings and reduce parking requirements to help encourage construction of affordable and senior housing.

One of the main criticisms of the plan in The Bronx was that the affordable housing it set out to build would not actually be affordable for many residents in the borough.

Although the Council expanded the income levels that the plan would serve by adding an option to make 20 percent of units affordable to people who make 40 percent of area median income — $34,520 for a family of four — Amritt maintained that this was still too expensive for some residents of his district, which encompasses Hunts Point and Longwood in the South Bronx.

READ MORE: What is AMI?

"For City Council members to look at that as a compromise, it’s an insult to the intelligence of poor people," he said.

Bronxites overwhelmingly disapproved of both proposals when they were discussed in the borough during the fall.

The Bronx Borough Board rejected the plan at a meeting in November, and residents sharply criticized the proposals as plans to price Bronxites out of their borough during a lively hearing on them that same month.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. had been an outspoken critic of de Blasio's proposals, describing them as "tremendously flawed," but his office said they would withhold commenting on the Council's decision until they had examined the changes more closely.

John Dudley, District Manager of Bronx Community Board 3, said he would have to wait and see if the city would actually be able to implement these plans effectively before judging them too strongly one way or the other, but he did feel slightly better about them given the alterations the City Council had made.

"All in all, I would say it's more palatable," he said.

However, Amritt argued that, even with the changes, the plan still did not do very much for residents of New York City's poorer neighborhoods.

"Communities such as Hunts Point, East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant, the poorer communities in New York City are just going to be totally at a disadvantage," he said.