There is a major lack of affordable housing in New York City, and everyone knows it. When the government pushes large scale development projects, it is often the promise of jobs and affordable housing that win community support for the project. In the case of Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn (the site of Barclay’s Center, the new Nets arena) developers promised to build over 2,000 units of low and middle-income housing. But as the arena’s construction is nearing completion, where is the affordable housing?
The lack of follow-though on affordable housing development is nothing unique to Brooklyn or to Atlantic Yards. The same thing is occurring all over the city. Willet’s Point in Queens is currently under development under the premise that the creation of affordable housing would be prioritized. According to the Wall Street Journal, however,
The companies would first spend years building a hotel and a large retail center in the area before moving on to constructing the housing in an unproven and polluted site near Citi Field.
Where are the priorities in NYC’s urban development? Who is setting the agenda? And how is the community manipulated in the process?
This week, Crain’s NY published another article highlighting community anxiety over abandoned promises of affordable housing at the former Domino Sugar site. Originally, one-third of the housing development would be set aside for affordable housing – a whopping 660 units. CPC Resources Inc. and its partner, The Katan Group, are now selling the project to Two Trees Management, and it is unclear whether or not they will uphold the promise of affordable housing.
As usual, communities impacted by these development sites are fighting back! “Any developer or investor who wants to purchase Domino without committing itself to the 660 affordable units, should really think twice,” Isaac Abraham, a Williamsburg community leader and housing advocate, told Crain’s NY. And in Fort Greene this week, clergymen protesting against Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner created a new faith-based group made up of 25 Brooklyn congregations. The group, called Committee for Arena Justice, is calling on New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to pressure Ratner maintain his commitment to job creation and affordable housing for the community. The Fort Greene Patch reports,
We need jobs that can sustain families and not jobs selling hot dogs,” said Councilwoman Letitia James, D-Fort Greene. The criticism comes less than a week after Forest City Ratner opened up online pre-registration for hundreds of mostly part-time event positions at the arena.
The clergy are calling for a boycott of the arena until the developers “treat the community with respect.” Committee for Arena Justice is holding a meeting at the Brown Memorial Baptist Church at 484 Washington Ave in Brooklyn to plan upcoming protests against Barclay’s Center, particularly against the grand opening featuring co-owner and rap-legend Jay Z.
As tenant organizers, we see false promises constantly – from banks promising to sell buildings to affordable housing developers to landlords who swear they’ll make the necessary repairs. We understand the frustration about the real lack of affordable housing and investment in communities and support the boycott! We look forward to supporting this effort!