[New York: Housing]
Council Member Jumaane D. Williams addresses the development concerns of an East Flatbush neighborhood alongside its residents. Photo Credit: Ernest Skinner
New York City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams this past Saturday joined the residents of an East Flatbush neighborhood and local community activists in a press conference that spoke to concerns about recent developments and construction proposals in the area.
The conversation with the community centered around several ongoing projects to build multi-family apartment buildings that replace and tower over existing family homes. The conference itself took place in front of one such site where construction is already underway. Williams spoke to the need to implement contextual zoning, which would provide checks against many of these developments.
“What you see now, because of land and the ability to make exorbitant amounts of money, are people taking out these one and two family homes and putting up these structures,” Williams said. “We want to be clear that we are now united to fight against what’s going on.”
The Council Member pointed out that while it will be necessary to have an increase in population density in some areas in order to achieve the goal of more affordable housing in New York City, communities themselves should be engaging in a discussion regarding the preservation of certain areas while expanding others. This press conference, he believes, is a call to action for those communities.
The community gathered at 1519 New York Avenue, at the base of one of the multi-family buildings that they say is destroying the character of the neighborhood. In addition to testimonials by longtime residents of the neighborhood, representatives from Community Board 17 and NHS (Neighborhood Housing Services) of Brooklyn addressed some of the concerns about gentrification and ways that residents could protect themselves.
“You may not have to sell. You may not have to be foreclosed on and forced out of your home. There are solutions for you,” Tonya Ores, of NHS Brooklyn, told the sizable crowd outside 1519 New York Avenue.
“This is a community of home ownership. This is a community of family, and we need work together, we need to open our eyes and educate,”said Trisha Ocana of Community Board 17.
Council Member Williams urged the residents to get involved in speaking out about future housing and development proposals.