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Real Affordability for All coalition blocked Flatbush Avenue amid a march

The rent is too damn high! Downtown edition

Move it: Protesters block traffic at the interesection of Tillary Street and Flatbush Avenue during a rally for affordable housing on April 3.
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Thousands of new apartments have gone up Downtown over the past decade, but so have area rents, and protesters are demanding the city force developers to include cheap digs in the next towers being built.

Demonstrators swarmed neighborhood streets last Thursday morning, blocking traffic on Flatbush Avenue and calling for more cheap digs and higher wages for construction workers.

“If they’re going to get our tax dollars, they should use it right,” said Lenny Anselmo, a worker with the Construction and General Building Laborers’ Union’s Local 79.

About 100 activists, residents, and union members turned out for the April 3 rally and march, which weaved around Downtown streets and stopped in front of large-scale residential buildings that do not include affordable housing units and at construction sites using non-union labor. The demonstrators raised the issue of affordable housing ahead of a plan on the subject that Mayor DeBlasio is expected to release on May 1, detailing how he aims to create 200,000 low-rent pads citywide.

A conglomerate of local community groups going by the name Real Affordability for All organized the demonstration and issued a report detailing the number of affordable housing units built in Downtown Brooklyn over the last few years.

Sixty-one residential development projects in the area received tax-breaks from the city between 2008 and 2012 and only five of those contain so-called “affordable” units, the report said. In total, developers built 4,395 units of housing with the city’s help, and provided only 257 units priced below-market-rate, according to the report.

Those rallying said the city should get a better bang for their buck — which they said amounts to $158 million in tax subsidies over the next 25 years.

“Our city is being sold to the highest bidder at the expense of its citizens,” said Keisha Jacobs, a Crown Heights resident and organizer with the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, a housing advocacy group.

The rally started at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Flatbush Avenue Extension, between the Toren and Avalon Fort Greene towards, neither of which contain any low-cost rentals, and ended at the Watchtower properties at Pearl and Prospect streets that Kushner Companies bought in 2013.

Updated 6:15 pm, April 9, 2014: Added context about the Toren tower.
Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
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Reader Feedback

SwampYankee from runined Brooklyn says:
.....and the wheels on the gentrification bus go round and round, round and round.........
April 4, 2014, 5:49 am
Ebeneezer Grunddlesnitch from Brooklyn says:
Boo hoo hoo - if you can't afford it, you can't have it. Would they have a protest outside of Harry Winston because the diamonds cost more than most people can afford?
And who is supposed to give whom cheap housing? And aren't plenty of apartments still very cheap? I think you can buy a house in East new york for next to nothing.
April 4, 2014, 5:51 am
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
no, there aren't plenty of cheap apartments and no, houses can not be bought in East New York for next to nothing. In the very worst areas of East New York you might, might be able to get a crap house starting at $400,000.......but it is all up from there. The larger point is that any new developments approved by this administration will have a larger chunk of low and middle income house attached to that approval. The 2 ugly buildings near Myrtle we built under the last administration. Truth be told they could not sell those condos for years after the 2008 crash so they were available as expensive rentals. Now that the market is back they are selling well as condos. I don't know why anybody would want to live above the dirtiest, nastiest street in NYC with the fumes just wafting up with backup up bridge traffic but they are selling em like hotcakes
April 4, 2014, 8:36 am
jjm from c. hill says:
Goo, lets keep it up. Let it spread boroughwide. They should hit red hook, gowanus, c. hill, williamsburg, greenpoint, boerum hill, etc. next. No more lux housing for snobby yuppies in bk, enough is enough.
April 4, 2014, 8:49 am
jjm from c. hill says:
@Some1, that does sounds tempting. Then again, it might not be neccesary to do that because i got a feeling that the mayor is going screw these real estate developers, hopefully.
April 4, 2014, 9:41 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Affordable housing - isn't that the projects?
April 4, 2014, 9:50 am
fact chekah says:
The Toren included affordable units. Don't BP reporters check statements made by others, or do they just wrap them in quotations and leave the truthiness to the speaker?
April 4, 2014, 10:39 am
Notorious N.E.D. from Greenpoint says:
lol at these people politicking for the smallest sliver of the pie. Why not just go out and get yourself something? If you find yourself at an 'affordable' housing rally it should be serious self reevaluation time. What a pathetic way to live.
April 4, 2014, 11 am
Charleeeeeeeenee from Park Sloooooppppeee says:
I agree. It's expensive here. I wish it were less expensive, I'd have more disposable income for kale.
April 4, 2014, 11:21 am
jjm from c. hill says:
We should all know why its so expensive. Spike Lee told us the reason..."motherfu**in hipsters".
April 4, 2014, 1 pm
Charles from Brooklyn says:
“Our city is being sold to the highest bidder at the expense of its citizens." I believe this statement is both sad and the truth of the matter. The last two mayors, along with many other city officials, supported policies that led to government facilitation and complicity with developers, who took huge gains with taxpayer money at the expense of everyone else. That means the increased cost and burden on schools, infrastructure and city emergency services were paid by everyone for the benefit of a few. Wake up citizens of New York!!! You are paying for other people's fortunes, and you don't even know it.
April 4, 2014, 1:05 pm
Notorious N.E.D. from Greenpoint says:
^Union jive. Seriously, it's nonsense. If it's the city official's policies, why is the same thing happening in San Francisco? Why's the same thing happening in DC? I could go on.

The only things that's really changed is certain demographics' preference for the city over the suburbs. It's nationwide, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. The rest is just the politics of the crumbs.
April 4, 2014, 1:28 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
@Charles...Yeah, bloomy & giuliani really sold us out over the last couple decades. But to the rest of the lower & middle incomers, just remain vigilant because i think things may start to get better.
April 4, 2014, 1:30 pm
Toni from Bensonhurst says:
My landlord has people living in the basement illegally and paying through the nose. Is that what you people mean by "find a cheaper place to live?"
April 4, 2014, 2:28 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
"The Toren included affordable units."

The question of that is who is it really going to be affordable to. Usually when private developers claim they are giving affordable units, they aren't for the low income or at least those at the very bottom as public housing is. Let's not forget that the numbers crunched on the Atlantic Yards for affordable units were hardly found to be affordable, and in a demographics study, it was found that the two lowest incomes won't even be part of it, while the highest will be at least 2/3 of the project. When it comes to gentrification, those living in places controlled by the market will usually be the ones displaced while the housing projects are the only ones that will remain unaffected.
April 4, 2014, 7:13 pm
Jay from nyc says:
The rent IS tooooo high....for some people. Look, if your household income is the same as the national median (around 50K) you don't make enough to live very well here, unless MAYBE you get a rent controlled or stabilized apartment, and those things are not necessarily a great deal, as a lot of em are run down or in not great areas.
So really one has three realistic choices,
a) move to some place where you can afford to live at a nice level on 50K, which is 95% of the rest of the country.
b) acquire more skills to get a better paying job.
c) agitate for higher wages/more public housing and hope in 20 years it works out.
Two of these choices depend on the individual to make and are within their control.
Choice C depends on others and may or may not happen. For me, I would choose either a or b and get on with my life rather than be out in the street protesting instead of working.
Having said that, people who run the cash registers, drive cabs, janitors, doorpersons, and food servers, etc need a decent place to live, but they simply don't make enough to do so here, but we do need people to do those jobs.
If I was one of those persons, and I really loved that job, and many of them do by the way, I would move to another area of the country where I could afford to live on those wages, I just don't see the logic in staying in an area that does not value your job enough to pay a decent wage. If enough people wised up to that and left, and created a labor shortage, then wages would rise.
So if you take choice C basically what you are doing is letting employers off the hook for paying a decent wage for the work you do and instead taking a crap wage and asking the public to subsidize you. Then you have to hope for the rest of your life that it does not change or get reduced, sold, defunded, and that it will not fall into disrepair, neighborhood goes to hell, etc. To me that is just not worth it.
April 4, 2014, 7:18 pm
Toni from Bensonhurst says:
Jay, you are not considering the fact that a $50,000 a year job in NYC is not a $50,000 a year job elsewhere. The salary would be proportionally lower relative to the local rents wherever they are.
April 4, 2014, 8:08 pm
Mom from Clinton Hill says:
Where were you people when we protested the arena at all those "public" hearings? What, you can't live in a rusty turd?
April 4, 2014, 9:13 pm
Jay from NYC says:
actaully toni that is not the case at all, many many jobs make the same pay in NYC as they do elsewhere, or only slightly less. This is the number one reason why people leave NYC, the wages simply don't keep up here relative to the cost of living and real estate.
Case in point, Cash Register jockeys are getting paid about the same everywhere, but if your rent is $500 a month in South Carolina, that is way more livable because you are paying $1,100 here, which is the point I was making.
The super friendly person at the DMV is making around $45k here, and guess what, they are making about that everywhere else too. Check what CPA's make, starting in new york its about 75,000 for someone after 4 years. In Charlotte, N.C. its 72K.
Now it is true that there are some profession in NYC which are paid considerably higher than else where, but there are a lot that are not. It is also true that there are some unique jobs in NYC that don't really exist elsewhere in the country either, but that does not change the fact that dollar for dollar, you get a lot less for your money in NYC in comparison to most of the rest of the country.
Also another thing to consider, people who own where they live in NYC is about 24% or so, for the rest of the country ownership is around 65%, or triple the rate in NYC. That pretty much tells you everything you need to know on this subject.
April 4, 2014, 10:39 pm
jay from nyc says:
on other thing I would add on this subject is that people in NYC pay nearly 13% in city and state tax, the highest in the country, which further reduces your spending/saving ability, in Wyoming there is no state income tax.or in Nevada either as well as some other states too. NYCs property tax rate is as a percentage not that high, but when you factor in teh high value of preopty you wind up still payin g alot in property tax unless you are a veteran and then you only pay school tax, for apartment buildings it is much worse, that rate DOUBLE the national apartment property tax rate, oh and remember that blurb about ownership being so much lower in NYC? Well one of the reasons you see so many buildings trying to convert from rentals (and throwing out lower income grandmas who have lived in the building for 80 years) is to get away from the higher taxes that are imposed on rentals as opposed to non-rental owned property, which pay a rate 6.4 times lower than rental buildings pay.
April 4, 2014, 10:59 pm
Toni from Bensonhurst says:
Well, you educated me.
April 5, 2014, 12:41 am
Goofy from Disneyworld says:
Landlords selling out to the highest bidder !!

Gee, I thought they were social workers in disguise.

These protesters are real a******s
April 5, 2014, 3:26 pm
Epiphany from ex-Brooklyn says:
Jay Z has the answer: sell crack.

Or you can go Marty Markowitz' route: get a big injury lawsuit payoff after you slip on the ice and buy a house.

Think Brooklyn's expensive now? Wait, suckers!
April 5, 2014, 7:02 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
It may not look it now but the affordable housing is already here. Where might you ask? In those very condos that are up & being built. Its gonna come a time where its gonna reach a boiling point & those condo buildings are gonna be left with no choice but to let the low & middle incomers in, its bound to happen, just watch.
April 5, 2014, 10:43 pm
Jake from Williamsburg says:
To put the blame on the residents is idiotic and illogical. People live where they like and can afford. Some people have more money than me and can afford nicer things. It's not their fault.

To put the blame on the developers is idiotic and illogical. Companies and people see opportunity and want to make money. This is capitalism. As long as they follow the law of the land and aren't an —— slumlord forcing people out of their apartments, there's nothing wrong with wanting to make some money.

Who screwed up? You did. We all did. The politicians and the people who voted for them. The politicians who gave away tax incentives. We allow the highest bidder to buy our politicians. Thank you, Supreme Court. Shouldn't this city have a comprehensive housing plan?
April 6, 2014, 9:09 pm
Brooklyn real; from far far away , says:
Here is the bottom line , its never going to get better, you will be squeezed till you drop, and all the land owners and major corparations know that no matter what ....you will pay , after all baseball tickets are several hundred dollars peope pay , and people wait on line for dounts in NYC and pay stupid amounts people fight for 1000 sneakers after waiting on line all night , we did it to our selves we never say no to crazy prices, we have to have it and we have to have it now , and they know that so weather you like it or not prices will keep on going up .. thats it .. the middle class is finished. and so are you ....
April 6, 2014, 9:59 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
I'm hoping for a pardon on this one, but isn't the rent "ALAWAYS" too high? When is the rent ever "too low"? Is it me? It's HIM isn't it?
April 7, 2014, 6:10 pm
Kerri from a much cheaper city says:
I feel for these people, God bless them, but they need to get out of the most expensive city in the nation. They are never going to get ahead in a city that is at 150% of national cost of living. And complaining about it is only going to get them a tenement with all the amenities of 1890.
April 23, 2014, 3:29 pm

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