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New Brooklyn Construction is for the 'Wrong People,' Housing Advocates Say

 Affordable housing advocates marched between luxury developments Wednesday in Downtown Brooklyn protesting the use of private developers to build affordable housing on public land.
Affordable housing advocates marched between luxury developments Wednesday in Downtown Brooklyn protesting the use of private developers to build affordable housing on public land.
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DNAinfo/Alexandra Leon

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Affordable housing advocates marched between luxury developments Wednesday in Downtown Brooklyn, calling on the city to hire nonprofit developers to build on public land while claiming private developers are creating affordable housing that is too expensive for locals. 

The rally, led by New York Communities for Change, specifically targeted private developer BFC Partners, which was chosen by the city to build 145 apartments for low-income seniors on the property within Fort Greene’s Ingersoll Houses

The new building will feature a senior center on the ground floor operated by the group Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders.  

Protesters gathered outside another BFC development, City Point’s Tower 1 at 7 DeKalb Ave. on Fulton Mall, around noon and marched several blocks to BFC's office at 150 Myrtle Ave., across from the Ingersoll Houses, shouting things like, “BFC ain’t affordable for me.”

The protesters, most of whom were NYCHA residents, criticized BFC and other developers for creating affordable housing in low-income neighborhoods that is still too expensive for locals and building luxury towers that are driving up rents in the rest of the area.

“Affordable housing isn’t affordable for the people in the area,” said 52-year-old Douglas Covington, a 20-year resident of the Seth Low Houses in Brownsville. 

For example, rents for the 200 affordable apartments set aside at the 250-unit City Point 1 — which is not on public land — range from $538 to $2,038 per month for a one-bedroom apartment to $868 to $2,455 per month for a two-bedroom apartment. 

“We’re building too much for the wrong people,” said 50-year-old Anne Valdez, a third-generation resident of the Gravesend Houses in Coney Island. 

“If you notice, these developments are going up in neighborhoods that are some of the poorest. So I say instead of taking from the poor and the less fortunate, why are they not putting back?”

Protesters called on the city to use nonprofit developers for all its projects, such as the West Side Federation of Senior and Support Housing, which will be building 156 affordable apartments for low-income seniors aged 62 or older on the site of a parking lot at the Mill Brook Houses in The Bronx.

At the 16-story Ingersoll Senior building, 145 apartments will be available to seniors 62 years or older earning up to 60 percent of the area median income, the city has said. It wasn’t clear how much apartments at the new senior building would go for.

A spokesman for BFC said the new building will be 100 percent affordable for residents making less than $38,000 a year.

“Our commitment to affordable housing is expressed through building safe, quality homes for low-income New Yorkers,” the spokesman said in a statement.

"The Ingersoll Senior Residences in Fort Greene, which will provide 145 affordable homes to seniors making less than $38,000 per year, is just one example of that. It’s unfortunate and unproductive when critics attack that work instead of fighting for additional city, state and federal resources that can help us provide more affordable housing.”