Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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NY1's Grace Rauh takes a closer look at the mayor's plans and the hurdles to building and accessing affordable housing in the five boroughs.

Brick by Brick: Neighborhood Residents Often Oppose Housing Plans

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There may be no shortage of demand in the city for affordable housing, but in spite of that, plans to build more affordable housing are often met with skepticism, concern and sometimes downright hostility. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report, Part 2 of her "Brick by Brick" series.

A stretch of Pitkin Avenue in East New York, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city, could soon be transformed. The area is the first that the de Blasio administration is targeting for rezoning to pave the way for more affordable housing.

"A lot of us out here, we can't afford this high rent," said one resident of the area.

However, while many locals are desperate for better and cheaper housing, there is widespread concern that the development the city wants will not actually be affordable by neighborhood standards and will lead to gentrification.

"You are talking about driving out the people who really can't afford anything," said the Rev. Mervyn Passie of the Mt. Nebo Baptist Church

With that in mind, the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation is building 60 of what it calls deeply affordable units on a vacant lot. Rents will range from $600 to $1,000 a month, depending on income and apartment size.

"We're really targeting the people that live in the neighborhood now and the rents that they can afford," said Michelle Neugebauer of the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation.

However, additional affordable housing may come attached to market-rate developments, which worries Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

"We have seen many neighborhoods in Brooklyn lose the tremendous diversity that make those neighborhoods strong. We don't want to see the same thing happen out in East New York," Jeffries said.

East New York may be awaiting the city's affordable housing plans with trepidation, but in Brooklyn Bridge Park, on the border of wealthy Brooklyn Heights, some residents have already declared war.

The de Blasio administration announced plans to add affordable housing to towers slated for the park, prompting outcry. Many critics, though, including a plaintiff in a lawsuit to block the development, insist that they are not opposed to affordable housing. They're just concerned about housing of any kind in the park.

"We're all pro-affordable housing," said one of the critics.

They just don't want it here.

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