By: Giovanni Zaburoni
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio is attempting to tackle the issues that come with gentrifying neighborhoods in his city but will it keep members of the black and brown communities from becoming outsiders in the neighborhoods many of them have grown up in? The answer to that remains to be unseen but Mayor De Blasio has put forth a zoning plan that will protect 200,000 affordable housing units according to Atlanta Blackstar.
The city council has approved the plan which will impact 15 neighborhoods. While De Blasio and his team say this plan will enable more senior and affordable housing, Ava Farkas, the executive director of the Metropolitan Council on housing says it’s really “a gentrification plan.” It all boils down to area median income. Under the current measure under the city council, anyone making $31,000 and up could potentially qualify for permanent affordable housing. Some want the income amount dropped to about $23,000 so low income people of color aren’t left out of the deal.
New York isn’t the only place dealing with the issue of gentrification and one incident reveals this issue could potentially be fatal. In San Francisco, a man named Alejandro Nieto was shot 14 times by police after being mistaken for a “menacing intruder”, according to Atlanta BlackStar. Nieto was a Latino Buddhist and a licensed security guard but was mistaken as an outsider by white neighbors in a newly gentrified neighborhood. According to Atlanta Blackstar, many say Nieto would still be alive if he were white.
Gentrified neighborhoods are popping up all across the country, pushing low income members of society out of neighborhoods they’ve been in for years by raising the rent, making it too expensive for them to hold on to the environments they hold dear. Once the lower income residents are pushed out, new developments and people with more income move into areas that are often seen as prime real estate.
According to Atlanta Blackstar, De Blasio wants to increase the height of buildings in the affordable housing zones and ease restrictions on parking requirements, but is that enough to keep people of color living on restricted incomes in their homes? Farkas says this plan is “not good enough” and she isn’t alone. Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito says in her area of east Harlem, she wants affordable housing to apply to households making $23,000 and she wants half of new housing to be affordable.