April 20, 2016:
The East New York rezoning plan has passed the City Council. Thanks to the tireless leadership of the Coalition for Community Advancement and our Council Member Rafael Espinal, the plan contains some major victories for the neighborhood.
- The removal of Arlington Village from the rezone area so that the community has another opportunity to weigh in on plans for this pivotal site in another land use review process and we have another shot at getting truly affordable housing for local residents at the site;
- A $12 million small homes preservation fund to ensure that the American dream of homeownership stays in reach for African-Americans and Latinos in East New York/Cypress Hills – the fund will provide subsidies for legalization of basement apartments (if feasible), and major systems repairs;
- A scaling back of the rezone area to preserve manufacturing and small business sites and reduce the impact of market-rate units;
- Creation of a Workforce 1 Center so that East New York residents can earn a living wage;
- A commitment to set aside some of the new commercial spaces for discounted rates for local entrepreneurs; and
- Accountability and reporting measures aimed toward ensuring that these commitments are followed through on.
Other major investments are made in the Plan for removing trailers from public schools, renovating parks and infrastructure improvements and converting shelters into affordable housing.
We were extremely disappointed that the number of new housing units earmarked to be deeply affordable to community members at the lowest income levels is much less than we had hoped. Anti-displacement measures and protections were also not as strong as we wanted them to be. However, our work here is far from over, and through our advocacy, organizing and community development work, we will continue the good fight to keep Cypress Hills affordable and prevent our neighbors from being displaced. We will also continue to make sure that the people of Cypress Hills receive the important services that we have been promised.
We are so grateful and proud of how the community mobilized around this cause, especially our fellow members of the Coalition for Community Advancement. The successful adoption of some of the Coalition’s recommendations into the final plan would not have happened without the massive support and participation that we saw from the community. We thank everyone who attended rallies and Town Halls, collected petitions and testified at public hearings, making sure their faces were seen and voices were heard.
In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll communicate more details about the Workforce 1 Center, the Small Homes Preservation Fund and other benefits of the Plan as well as ways residents can continue to advocate on for deeper affordability and stronger anti-displacement policies. Please stay tuned!