Red Hook and Sunset Park are not for Sale to luxury developers! I will fight against the rezoning of Sunset Park’s waterfront that serves the needs of wealthy outsiders, not the community. NYCHA Red Hook housing will not be privatized for developers profit or will continue severely underfunded for much need maintenance.
KEY ISSUES: Gentrification and Displacement
There has been a lot of construction of high-rises along Fourth Avenue with rents going higher than the market value. A way to stop this from expanding to the Waterfront is preventing developers from getting a Re-Zoning for residential use in the area.
RISKS OF THE WILLIAMSBURGIZATION OF SUNSET PARK
Currently, the waterfront has competing interests and visions from many different owners. This is a fight that will define Sunset Park for many decades to come.
Developers are pushing for luxury condos and a hotel filled Williamsburg scenario whereas, the community has been striving and asking for a waterfront that provides solid well-paying jobs for the current working class residents of Sunset Park. The largest private developer being Industry City (IC) which owns 16 buildings, from 32nd street to 37th street on 3rd avenue and 39th street to the waterfront.
There are over 4.5 million square feet of building space in Industry City, and this property was bought by a group of companies which include Jamestown properties. Jamestown owns about 50% of the Industry city and is known as the developers of bougie upscale Chelsea Market. They want to see the water-front re-zoned to justify their billion dollar investment over a 12 year period to renovate the buildings.
The proposal to rezone from Industrial City (IC) is to change the industrial character to mixed use, while mixed-use sounds like keeping some of the industry, what a lot of urban planners know if that mixed use almost always means the end of industrial use. Residential rents, especially on the waterfront, can draw more money so that’s the direction developers will go. This is why IC is promoting and gearing up to ask for the rezoning.
Uprose, the 50-year-old Puerto Rican/Latino community and environmental justice organization fighting gentrification, has been in the lead in the fight against Industry City’s vision for the waterfront. But Uprose isn’t the only organization, in many ways, many other stakeholders in the community including Community Board 7, that represents Sunset Park, have been promoting the industrial waterfront vision.
In fact, NY City Economic Development Corporation (known as EDC) has a plan for the waterfront that focuses on upgrading and revitalizing the waterfront for industrial use. EDC owns much of the waterfront from the 40 to 52nd street and also the Brooklyn Army Terminal complex.
The EDC vision for the waterfront seems to align more with Uprose and other local community groups. However, in many ways, community members feel the EDC has dealt with the revitalization process in an undemocratic and top-down manner rarely including the community.
One of the examples is the proposal for the Made in NY campus. In some of the Bush Terminal buildings, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed an enormous campus for fashion and film. It sounds great until you hear that small business already operating in that space had no say in the matter and will be evicted from the space. Many of these small businesses are actually in the manufacturing or fashion business so why would de Blasio not consult them about his plan for a Fashion hub. Demonstrating even more how little consultation was sought, many business and owners in the current fashion hub in the garment district in Manhattan expressed major concern with relocating and saying they were perfectly happy where they were in Manhattan. So who is de Blasio trying to build this Hub for if the major players in Fashion aren’t enthusiastic about the plan?
The community and local politicians need to push the EDC to actually include the community in the process and get away from the top-down urban planner as all knowing versus putting the community and long-term residents goals first.
The waterfront needs to stay as the economic driver for the area and Sunset Park has a unique opportunity that other Brooklyn waterfronts have lost, to keep the infrastructure that can allow for future industry including green jobs.
Currently, the Sunset Park waterfront is designated as an Industrial Business Zone, IBZ. Why is this distinction important? There aren’t many IBZ left and basically because this is the only one surviving on the waterfront in Brooklyn.
The waterfront was the economic driver for Sunset Park for many decades, providing quality jobs that allowed middle and working class residents of Sunset Park to have a better quality of life and allow for many to afford to buy a home. This was one of the main reasons why Sunset Park had such a high home ownership rate.
The water-front jobs also allowed for the community to be and continue to be one of the largest if not largest walk to work communities in New York City. Those industrial shipping and manufacturing jobs have shrunk a great deal but there are still many small industrial businesses dotted along the Sunset Park waterfront.
Sunset Park has a high rate of home ownership. We need to make sure that the middle and working class home owners don’t face crippling property taxes. We need to incentivize, promote and educate home owners about the market and protecting your property.
PROTECTION FOR TENANTS
The city should create new rent-stabilized apartments in Brooklyn and the other boroughs. No new rent-controlled units have been created since 1971.
Businesses are vulnerable to abusive rent-hiking in commercial rentals, particularly in areas where high-rises have been built.
More resources need to be provided to help fight abusive landlords and to give information to tenants in other languages and about their rights as tenants.
Nobody should accept sub-standard housing due to fear of the landlord using their immigration status against them.
TO AVOID HOMELESSNESS AMONG LOW-INCOME FAMILIES:
City Council should pass the Housing Not Warehousing Act (Intros 1034, 1036 and 1039) to take account of vacancies across the city and initiate a development plan for low-income housing for the poorest communities.
The City Council should review more non-profit community development organizations.
City government should preserve existing affordable housing units, especially those owned by NYCHA.
There should be an increase in funding in the Capital Budget for affordable housing programs.
Photos:NATHAN KENSINGER and Brooklynnewsroom
Affordable housing in New York City means attainable apartments for low-income families. Yet, nowhere in the city, you can find affordable housing. The media income varies between $70,000-$90,000 in the new high-rises that developers are building in several neighborhoods like Sunset Park and Red Hook with the blessing of the city.
That media income does not correspond to reality in these neighborhoods where most individuals make from $35,000-45,000 a year.
In the last few years, the homeless population has been increasing due to lack of living wages and Gentrification in NYC where thousands of families can’t afford these rents. City Hall is paying 73 million dollars a year for hotel space to give them shelter. We believe that the homeless numbers could be reduced if some of that money can be used to help families to live in affordable homes of their own. The city owns many buildings that can be renovated to accommodate families in need. Several agencies must come under one chain of command to find a solution to this massive problem, that will only rise as rents keep going higher. We will put all of our efforts in finding the solution.
Public Housing is under assault by the Federal Government. The proposed budget for 2018 presented by Donald Trump cuts NYCHA by more than three hundred million dollars. Currently, New York City Housing Authority receives about 70% of its operating budget from HUD. The total population of residents in Public Housing in New York City is greater than 400,000 people.
Currently, there is a backlog of needed repairs in NYCHA. In many of the buildings, garbage is not regularly picked up causing rodents to feast on the remains. Roofs leak, elevators stall, and security systems fail. Mold has been a menace to the health of NYCHA residents since Hurricane Sandy and only now the courts are pressing the issue. All of these elements present health hazards to the residents in Public Housing.
If the Federal government goes ahead with the proposed budget cuts, New York State and New York City must put in place a tax hike on the top 5% New Yorkers. Also, corporations not paying taxes in New York must begin to pay their fair share.
Gentrification: Our communities in District 38 must be protected against displacement coming from wealthy developers who want to take over our neighborhoods, our schools, our hospitals, and change the makeup of our community.
Rents have skyrocketed in Sunset Park and Red Hook due to gentrification and increasing taxes. HUD has established the median income for a family of four to be $90,600 a year, but few among the working families in these neighborhoods earn that kind of salary.
Developers from outside our community must not be allowed to build without the consent of the community, and residents must not be forced to leave their homes because of higher rents and taxes.
We must stop the displacement in our district.