Displacement of Dominicans in Northern Manhattan

(Photos via Manhattan Times)

The percentage of Dominican households in Washington Heights/Inwood declined 6.2 percent in just a four-year period, between 2010 and 2014, with rising rents and virtually stagnant incomes accounting for the displacement. Now, to ensure that there is no further erosion in the share of Dominican households, the city and state need to take a greater role in creating a safety net for low-income immigrants, according to Dr. Ramona Hernández, director of CUNY Dominican Studies Institute.

DSI recently released a study of demographic changes in Northern Manhattan, and Gregg McQueen of Manhattan Times reports on the findings and what Hernández had to say.

As of 2014, one-third of non-Hispanic white households had been in their current apartment for only two years, the study said, indicating an influx of non-Hispanic residents into the neighborhoods.

Hernández remarked that this trend is affecting the cultural character of Northern Manhattan, which for decades had been a vibrant representation of Dominican and Latin culture.

“The businesses, the character is changing,” said Hernández. “If a cultural legacy is not upheld, it will disappear.”

“We need action right now,” she stated. “Once those residents are gone, they’re gone.”

Hernández herself grew up in the neighborhood.

“At one time, you wouldn’t even want to tell somebody you were from Washington Heights,” she remarked. “But then it became a vibrant neighborhood, with a bodega on every corner, selling not drugs, but rice and beans.”

“The reality is that those same residents that turned the neighborhood around are finding they’re now unable to stay there,” she said.

Go to Manhattan Times to read more about the study and learn why Hernández favors the city’s rezoning plan for Inwood, even though she calls it “imperfect.”

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