Eastward-moving Bushwick Debates its Future

Ermel Alvarado, owner of Golazo Sport in Bushwick. (Photo by Donzie Barroso via The Brooklyn Ink)

Ermel Alvarado, owner of Golazo Sport in Bushwick. (Photo by Donzie Barroso via The Brooklyn Ink)

Gentrification, rising rents, and fewer jobs are redefining the demographics of the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, forcing many of its long-time residents to move to less expensive neighborhoods in Queens, reports Donzelina Augusta Barroso for The Brooklyn Ink.

Ermel Alvarado, 48, who has owned a soccer uniforms shop in Bushwick since 1989, is one of the thousands of residents who have moved to Ridgewood, located on Bushwick’s northeastern border in Queens, because of rising rents. Ermel purchased a one-family home and moved with his wife, four children and a sister-in-law last year.

“A lot of Ecuadorian families have moved to Ridgewood in the past ten years,” he said.

According to Kevin Worthington, a community organizer for Bushwick and Williamsburg in the office of City Council member Antonio Reynoso – representing District 34, which includes parts of Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Ridgewood – Bushwick has lost 10,000 Hispanic families to Ridgewood during the past decade due to a tight housing market, the decline of its industrial and manufacturing economy, and the loss of thousands of jobs and middle-class wages.

Indeed, “The district is moving east,” Worthington said. In 2003, following the 2000 Census, the District’s borders were redrawn to include a part of Ridgewood that was also largely Hispanic. Some 20,000 residents, many of whom were recently transplants to District 30, were reincorporated into District 34, according to The New York Times.

The redistricting, despite being controversial, helped maintain the population and demographic mix of District 34. But Bushwick’s eastward shift has many community leaders, activists and elected officials thinking about ways to “preserve the best of the past while embracing the future.”

As Anne Guiney, 42, who serves on Community Board 4 in Bushwick, said, “It’s time to watch what’s happening more carefully.” A Bushwick resident since 1998, she has served on the Community Board since 2012, and is on the Housing and Land Use Committee, as well as the Transportation Committee and the Public Safety Committee. While Guiney said there are a variety of opinions represented on the Community Board, all sides agree that change is coming. She and others feel that if they do not participate in defining Bushwick’s future, change will be dictated by market forces, and by people who are not part of the community.

Click here to read the detailed story in The Brooklyn Ink that captures the debate on redefining Bushwick’s future.

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