By Rep. Adriano Espaillat
In 2016, the city of New York built or preserved 21,963 affordable apartments, making it the best year for advancing affordable housing the city has seen in decades. While our city’s progress on this important issue is significant, it’s only a beginning to solving a problem that went neglected for far too long.
New York City has a housing crisis, and as witnessed in metropolitan communities around the nation with housing market prices that continue to rise, families being pushed from their long-term residences because they can no longer afford to live in the neighborhood, the crisis in housing and particularly for affordable housing has a far greater impact on individuals and families of color.
In another example of just how disconnected President Donald Trump remains from America’s working families and low-income households, the newly released Trump Budget for Fiscal Year 2019, the White House and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) actually requests a reduction of $8.8 billion for HUD Rental Assistance programs. The Trump budget does not include affordable housing nor funding for the Public Housing Capital Fund, and wrongfully implies that affordable housing should be a sole responsibility of state and local governments.
Gentrification is a growing and very real concern in New York City, particularly in neighborhoods like Harlem, East Harlem, and Brooklyn.
Gentrification is rapidly pushing longtime low-income residents out of the area. When market prices rise, especially in historically minority-dense communities, longtime residents of color are typically pushed out as they can no longer afford to rent them homes. It’s easy to recognize the tipping point of when a neighborhood starts to turn. You begin to see an exodus of African Americans in Harlem; an exodus of Puerto Ricans in East Harlem; and, an exodus of Dominicans in Washington Heights and Inwood as noted in a study presented by Dr. Ramona Hernandez of the Dominican Studies Institute of The City University of New York (CUNY).
In her study, Dr. Hernandez examined increasing housing costs throughout Washington Heights and Inwood, and the resulting decline of Dominican Americans in the community. When the people leave, they take their culture and the vibrancy that helped to shape the community with them, thus leaving a void. Gentrified neighborhoods often typically suffer from insufficient construction of low-income housing and inadequate rent regulation laws to control rent prices, which leaves the housing market unstable for residents.
Washington Heights and Inwood have been home to immigrants for over a century, ranging from Irish, Jews, and more recently Dominicans.
Read more: Commit to 5000 Units | Manhattan Times
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