In New York dingy, overpriced studio apartments manage to command bidding wars, while longtime city-dwellers with sweet rent-regulated deals have come to expect landlord harassment. Meanwhile, archaic affordable-housing lotteries regularly have something like 56,000 people fighting over a handful of slots. We’ve all hear these stories (many times) before– but this city is so wildly unequal that it sometimes feels like we’re all living in separate bubbles, ones that are often completely different from the ones where our neighbors dwell.
But what if you could actually step into the shoes of (or slide into bed with) a New Yorker on the other side of the tracks, so to speak, for a few nights?
A new report on the state of the city’s housing released today by NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy has a special focus on gentrification and neighborhoods that have seen rapid change in the last few decades. The report provides quantitative evidence that confirms what we already know– that rents are rising, people are being displaced, and areas around the city including Bushwick, Williamsburg, and the Lower East Side look very different today than they did in 1990, or even 2000. But there are a couple of surprises worth noting. We’ll have an in-depth followup tomorrow, but for now here’s a summary of the report’s findings.
If you thought the season for “top 10” lists was over, think again: a Bushwick art gallery, Fuchs Projects, has stirred up some controversy with its planned “Bushwick 200” list.
Last week, the gallery announced that it was set to identify “the 200 most influential people in Bushwick in 2016 in the Arts, Restaurants and Bars, Music, performing arts, Entertainment, Health, Real Estate, Gaming, Design and Hi-tech.” The “comprehensive list” of those who are “shaping the neighborhood of Bushwick” and “transforming the conventional” is being compiled “with the help of more than a dozen experts in different fields of art and commerce,” according to the gallery.
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.
“Lower East Side, not for sale!” “Chinatown, not for sale!” These were the chants on the streets of Chinatown two weeks ago, when protesters, huddled under umbrellas, marched to City Hall to demand the prevention of the 80-story tower currently planned for the East River waterfront. With more luxury apartments on the rise and the commercial landscape following suit, anxiety over the rapid gentrification of the Lower East Side is intensifying.
The two-bedroom apartment that Jesenia Ventura shares with her three young children, her sister, and her mother Amalia Martinez is so run-down that some windows will stay open only long enough to smash fingers, while others are stuck open even in winter. Frames of doors are ripped off, floor tiles are pulled up, and there is no running water in the bathroom sink, Jesenia says. There is green and black mold, drooping ceilings and a floor that is so warped that Jesenia’s son once tripped and cut his forehead. Jesenia worries that if she takes her kids to daycare, she’ll be reported to Child Protective Services. She says they regularly wake up in the middle of the night itching from painful-looking bedbug bites, and cockroaches crawl across their beds.
The conditions at 501-505 Grand Street, in Williamsburg, are so poor that in the summer of 2014, Amalia, Jesenia and four others organized a tenant association and filed official complaints to NYC Housing Preservation and Development. They hoped to persuade the building’s new owners, Manny and Eden Ashourzadeh of 501 EMR LLC, to make critical repairs. More →
Around 250 local residents, business owners and members of the Coalition to Protect Chinatown & The Lower East Side met at the future site of a controversial luxury tower and marched to City Hall to protest the construction of Extell’s “Building From Hell.” The rally was a show of support for a rezoning plan being pushed by the Chinatown Working Group as well as a stand against a tax abatement program for developers that opponents say is costing the city millions in revenue.