A coalition of 11 grassroots organizations is organizing the Queens March Against Gentrification on Thursday, April 20th from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. The march will begin at the 7-train plaza at 46th Street-Bliss Street and Queens Blvd. The aim of the march is to get Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer to publicly oppose plans for LIC Core Rezoning, the BQX streetcar, and Sunnyside Yards.
The coalition has collected signatures from nearly 500 residents and business owners across western Queens who firmly oppose these developments and over 500 people have expressed interest in attending the march thus far. Even though these projects are only in the “planning” stage, the current proposals will primarily enrich developers at the expense of working class people, small businesses, and people of color.
- Long Island City Core rezoning would lead to new office space which DCP has stated to be their top priority for created a “mixed use neighborhood”; however, the density bonuses would likely attract Class A office space which only corporations and large companies can afford, thereby further pressuring out small businesses, artists and small startups who contribute to a thriving, healthy community. The LIC rezoning would create some new affordable housing; however, under the City’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, affordable housing would only be a fraction of the new, luxury developments, and the affordable units that are built would not be genuinely affordable as they are based on NYC’s area median income which is over $90,000 for a family of four.
- The BQX Trolley will raise property values along the entire route from Astoria and through Long Island City to Sunset Park, not only pushing out residents but also endangering some of the few remaining manufacturing zones left in NYC. In fact, the way that the Friends of the BQX and Mayor have proposed to finance the $2.5 billion project is in part by the new tax revenue generated as land values increase along the entire trolley route. Express bus routes would be much cheaper and improve commuting times. Additionally, as Columbia university transportation expert David King points out, express bus routes would not contribute to gentrification in the way a trolley would.
- In February, the City released a feasibility study for Sunnyside Yards that outlines 3 developments options. All three are primarily focused on the creation of new, market rate housing. Anywhere from 14,000 to 24,000 units could be created, the study concludes, of which only 4,200 to 7,200 would be designated as affordable.
For all of the above developments, the City lacks the mechanism to determine and mitigate against environmental and human impacts. The city’s formal environmental review process has a track record of grossly underestimating the needs of the community. As an example, prior to the 2001 rezoning of LIC, the city predicted that only 400 units of housing would be built and no new schools would be need. What actually happened was that over 10,000 units of housing were built and LIC is now has one of the most overcrowded school districts in the city.
The march is not a march against Jimmy Van Bramer; it is a march against gentrification in western Queens.
From the Washington Post (link to full article). Excerpts below:
“The Trump administration has considered more than $6 billion in cuts at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to preliminary budget documents obtained by The Washington Post. The plan would squeeze public housing support and end most federally funded community development grants, which provide services such as meal assistance and cleaning up abandoned properties in low-income neighborhoods.”
“Budgets for public housing authorities — city and state agencies that provide subsidized housing and vouchers to local residents — would be among the hardest hit. Under the preliminary budget, those operational funds would be reduced by $600 million, or 13 percent. Funds for big-ticket repairs at public housing facilities would be cut by an additional $1.3 billion, about 32 percent. That could have a major quality-of-life effects on the low-income families who rely on public housing: Tens of billions of dollars in backlogged repairs already plague the country’s 1.2 million public housing units, according to a 2010 HUD report.”
“Under the proposal, direct rental assistance payments — including Section 8 Housing and housing vouchers for homeless veterans — would be cut by at least $300 million, to $19.3 billion. Additionally, housing for the elderly — known as the Section 202 program — would be cut by $42 million, nearly 10 percent. Section 811 housing for people with disabilities would be cut by $29 million, nearly 20 percent. Money available for Native American housing block grants would fall by $150 million, more than 20 percent.”