The Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision recently sent a letter to the NYC Department of City Planning demanding a number of conditions be met before the Jerome Avenue rezoning is approved.
The letter highlighted four principles that the coalition, along with residents living on and near the Jerome Avenue corridor, hope are the main focus of Jerome Avenue’s rezoning process – anti-displacement, local hire, deep affordability and, last but definitely not least, community engagement.
“This letter clearly lays out the recommendations that our coalition developed over the course of a year – for reaching deeper levels of affordability for any new housing that reflects the local need, strong anti-displacement policies that protect residential and commercial workers,” said Carmen Vega-Rivera, a leader of Community Action for Safe Apartments-New Settlement Apartments.
“The letter lays out the facts that all of these demands are non-negotiable and go hand in hand – we will not allow the city and it’s developers to come into our neighborhood that, we’ve built and sustained, to change the rules to benefit others.”
Vega-Rivera added that 45% of Community Board 4 residents and some CB 5 residents have an area median income of 30% or lower, while proposed affordable housing units for Jerome Avenue are starting at 40% AMI.
She asked, “If this is the case, who is the city building these affordable housing units for?”
Both community board’s AMI are nearly half of the city’s AMI of $51,000, with CB 4 at $27,000 and CB 5 at $21,000 AMI.
Both Vega-Rivera and Christian both mentioned the gentrification that has taken place in Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Williamsbridge, Park Slope and especially East New York, where more than 50% of the area has been up-zoned.
The area proposed for rezoning focuses on a 73 block-corridor alongside Jerome Avenue, beginning just south of Mullaly Park and north to Woodlawn Cemetery and includes 15 west Bronx neighborhoods.
The Jerome Avenue Study was evaluated last March and will result in the construction of affordable housing units under Mayor de Blasio’s ‘Housing New York Plan.’
Mayor de Blasio’s ten-year goal is to create 200,000 affordable housing units and over 7,000 permanent jobs in NYC.
The Jerome Avenue Corridor includes more than 200 auto-related businesses and thousands of rent-stabilized apartments.
The current zoning dates back to the early 1960s, with land-use patterns that stem back from the 1930s and earlier.
In addition, 80 percent of housing development in the study area was built before 1950, considered by many to be inferior housing.
The Department of City Planning has been working with Housing Preservation and Development, Parks and Recreation, the NYC Economic Development Corporation and Small Business Services since this study began and has encouraged local residents, businesses and institutions to evaluate and identify opportunities in the area to ensure that economic development, housing units and jobs can come to fruition while existing housing, parks and schools, among other amenities, are improved.
CASA, along with other local organizations, has engaged the community by holding forums, visioning sessions and collecting surveys from residents.