Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Protesters Call for More Affordable Housing at March in Harlem

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Several hundred people marched in Harlem Wednesday night, calling for more affordable housing. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.

People packed in pews Wednesday, but not to pray. They came to protest.

"People are living paycheck to paycheck, and it's insane," said one person at the protest.

"We do not need more luxury apartments in Harlem," said another.

The coalition of groups marched from first Corinthian Baptist Church on 116th Street to the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. state office plaza on 125th Street, wanting half of all new apartments built in the city to be affordable.

"Fifty percent for low and moderate, 50 percent for market rate. We split it. That's fair," said one person at the protest.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has promised the city will provide 200,000 affordable apartments over the next 10 years. Eighty thousand would be new construction, and 120,000 existing units would be preserved.

"What people want to see is action," said one woman at the protest who said she and her mother pay just about everything they make for rent on Staten Island.

"It gets you mad at a certain point because OK, I'm working so hard, but for what? Just to be able to live in a place, to not be in the street?" the woman said. "That gets you mad. That gets everybody mad. That's why they're here today."

The anger comes in reaction to trends like gentrification. Some at the protest complained that too many New Yorkers are living in poverty, and with housing going to the highest bidder, long-time neighborhood residents are getting pushed out.

"Working folks that run the city cannot afford New York City at this point," said one person at the rally.

The de Blasio administration said it has already delivered on roughly 9,000 affordable apartment units, though the process for the development of many of them began under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

There was no comment from de Blasio on Wednesday's rally.

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