City Council members pushed Mayor de Blasio’s new rezoning plan to prioritize deeper affordability during a hearing yesterday on a key pillar of his effort to add 200,000 new affordable units over 10 years. If passed, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing would require new constructions in certain neighborhoods to set aside 25-30 percent of the units as permanently affordable.
Tenants and activists who are part of the Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition (STS) rallied outside of 90 Elizabeth Street this morning before marching to City Hall to show their support for a package of bills that would address construction-related harassment. Today marks an important landmark for the coalition’s fight against landlords who are taking advantage of a lack of oversight and toothless fines.
At an emotional Lower East Side town hall meeting on Saturday afternoon, hundreds of concerned residents, a number of small business owners, and representatives of community organizations were visibly upset. Instead of being met by Mayor Bill de Blasio himself, they were greeted by a representative from the administration. “We have been reaching out to him for months,” Jei Fong, a coalition representative, told B+B. “We personally invited him to this meeting. This is a real slap in the face.”
City and state government officials are cracking down on landlords who collect tax benefits for affordable housing incentives but don’t follow through on their obligations. This practice was one of the major criticisms of the 421-a tax incentive leveled by activists and city leaders in favor of repealing the rent laws that governed the incentive when they were up for renewal over the summer.
Travel to almost any international city, from Berlin to Lima, and chances are you can to drop your bags at a cheap hostel filled with bunk beds and Ikea furniture, hassle free.
Not so in New York City. Even one of the last standouts, the hostel (something of a flophouse, in reality), The Whitehouse Hotel on Bowery, closed “temporarily” last year and has yet to reopen. But a new bill, introduced to City Council by Margaret Chin, could allow hostels to thrive, a prospect that has major implications for how we discuss the battle between Airbnb and critics of “illegal hotels.”
Swiping in at the Nassau stop yesterday, I happened to look down to the ground, and instead of spent MetroCards, I found a smattering of small flyers printed by the Brooklyn Anti-Gentrification Network (BAN) depicting two rather gentlemanly pigs looking fondly into one another’s eyes, carving up a piece of juicy meat with utensils. The fat slab reads “Brooklyn,” while the rest of the flyer called on residents to join BAN outside the Brooklyn Museum. Starting at 7 a.m., protestors demonstrated their outrage against the annual Brooklyn Real Estate Summit happening inside, and emphasizing that, in general, they’re not really cool with Brooklyn being treated like a fine cut of meat. “Land is for people, not necessarily for the elite,” a community garden activist told the crowd. “Brooklyn’s not for sale! Brooklyn’s not for sale!” the protestors chanted back.
A group by the name of Stand for Tenant Safety, consisting of tenant groups and eleven City Council Members (including Rosie Mendez from the Lower East Side, Stephen Levin from Williamsburg, and Antonio Reynoso of Bushwick) rallied on the steps of City Hall this morning. Never mind the rain. The coalition is named for a new report, released today by the Urban Justice Center, that coincides with the introduction of a legislation package that would protect tenants from landlords and developers who carry out neglectful and malicious construction projects. “My tenants have rain coming down in their apartments, so this is nothing,” said CM Rosie Mendez of the Lower East Side.
After a visit last year to ABC No Rio, a former squat building turned community space still very much awaiting its day for the ambitious makeover plans to get underway, I didn’t know what to expect from Umbrella House. The latter is a former East Village squat that, after years of push and pull with the city over legalization, became a fully legal, limited-equity affordable housing co-op. But then I caught up with Steven Englander, who now works at his former residence ABC No Rio and has lived at Umbrella House for about 16 years.
Lower East Siders rallied against a 56-story building due to rise over the former Pathmark site, with some saying its luxury apartments constituted “racist development.”
Colony 1209, a rather, um, insensitively named luxury development in Bushwick featuring a doorman, ping pong tables, a “speakeasy,” and a gym, has caused quite a stir since it opened up its 127 units inviting “bohemians” to become “settlers” in “Brooklyn’s vibrant new frontier.” Last summer, Bushwick Daily dubbed Colony 1209 the neighborhood’s “most controversial new building,” which judging by the apartment’s website copy, is something the developers might just have been aiming for. But in a neighborhood where there’s an acute and visible housing crisis happening (see: tenant harassment, demographic shifts, skyrocketing rent, etc.) it was a matter of time before people got really angry.