Coalition Demands Inclusive Rezoning on SI

Members of the coalition of tenants and religious leaders at the protest held in front of City Hall. (Photo via El Diario)

With the support of religious leaders and community activists, low-income tenants stood on the steps of City Hall Feb. 28 to demand that the rezoning plan the de Blasio administration is promoting for North Shore, Staten Island, is revised to make it more inclusive and to guarantee more affordability for the families already living in that neighborhood.

According to activists, the rezoning proposed for the Bay Street corridor, along the North Shore, will exclude and leave behind a significant number of low-income families.

The demonstrators asked the mayor for a more responsible rezoning proposal, a better framework that supports tenant rights and to build housing for families with restricted incomes, including 43 percent of all families currently living in the area, who earn less than $50,000 per year.

“In the past, rent in our neighborhood was below $1,000 for an apartment and there were many families living here. Now rents are going up and families are nervous that this rezoning will lead to faster displacement of North Shore families,” said Dulce María Rivera, a low-income resident of the North Shore.

Tenants and religious leaders delivered 600 signed petitions for Mayor de Blasio at City Council, urging him to refrain from moving forward with any rezoning plan that is not affordable for the local community.

The event was organized by Housing Dignity Coalition and Make the Road New York.

“We demand a higher percentage of affordable housing and rentals that take into account a single mother of two earning a low salary. Allowing housing that is 100 percent affordable in public areas is a good place to start,” said Rev. Janet Jones.

For her part, Rev. Faith Togba pointed out that, as a religious leader, she too is at risk of being displaced.

“If we can’t reach our goal of deep affordability, not only will our tenants and members be displaced, but churches like mine will be displaced too,” said Togba.

Iván García, a coordinator with Housing Dignity Coalition (HDC) and organizer at Make the Road New York, criticized the plan of the de Blasio administration, which would allow developers to build 16 residential towers on Bay Street in exchange for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH).

“This plan will only serve to make developers richer, not to tackle the growing housing crisis our city is facing,” said García.

Jennifer Gray-Brumskine, a member of HDC and organizer on Staten Island, said that she met with Council member Debi Rose to share the concerns of the community.

“They understand that we need to bring more affordable housing to the North Shore, and we hope to work with the councilwoman to achieve a more just and responsible rezoning of the North Shore that includes housing for all,” insisted Gray-Brumskine.

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