East New York Public Housing Photo: images.realtytoday.com
East New York Public Housing Photo: images.realtytoday.com
East New York Public Housing
Photo: images.realtytoday.com

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s bold plan to build 200,000 affordable units in New York City over the next ten years was designed to serve as a protective measure against resident displacement. Unfortunately, it’s turning out that the one-size-fits-all prophylactic it was intended for may do more harm than good.

First, let’s look at the word “affordable.” Affordable for whom?

For example, the Brooklyn neighborhood of East New York– already deemed the next new target for mass development (read: gentrification)– is first up on the mayor’s list for rezoning for affordable housing. However, according to a report released today by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, these so-called affordable units (at around $1,300/mo), by the City’s own standards would be too expensive for 55 percent of the neighborhood’s current residents.

Theres nothing affordable about a housing plan that is beyond the reach of half the community,” said Stringer.


And unlike neighborhoods like Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, which have enforceable rent regulation laws, and Greenpoint and Williamsburg which have enforceable rules prohibiting tenant harassment, East New York has zero protection for 21,788 units that house low-income tenants. In other words, once the rezoning and development is completed, it will potentially displace close to 50,000 of its current residents.

The number of rent stabilized units in the 37th Council District (which includes part of East New York and the surrounding communities) already has dropped by more than 14 percent between 2007 and 2014 the eighth largest decline among the Citys 51 Council Districts. The rezoning will only add fuel to the fire.

Scott Stringer, The Brooklyn Reader
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer

Stringer noted that for generations, East New York has been overlooked and under-resourced by the City in the way of its schools, parks, public transit and affordable housing. He added, the City’s new plan to add a large number of so-called affordable and market rate units would make matters worse by effectively pushing more than half of its residents right out of the neighborhood.

According to the report, the rezoning plan would add a total of 6,312 new apartments to the neighborhood. However just 1,724 of these would be affordable rental units available to existing neighborhood residents, and in certain circumstances that number could drop to low as 948 units.

The report shows East New York’s Area Median Income (AMI) at $32,815. Using City and State metrics which define an affordable rent as 30 percent of income, a family of three would have to earn at least $46,620 a year to afford one of the new units– a difference of nearly $14,000 between what it would cost and what a family actually earns.

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 12.01.10 PM

Further, for that same family to move into a market-rate unit in that same new building, it would have to make upwards of $83,484 more than double the current AMI in East New York and still far beyond the median income for Brooklyn, which was $47,520 in 2013.

Comptroller Stringer shared the data with the City Planning Commission on Wednesday, along with a letter addressed to the commission’s Chair Carl Weisbrod:  “Instead of strengthening the affordability of this community, the proposed rezoning would serve as an engine for displacement,” said Stringer in the letter.

The Comptroller urged the commission to “amend the current proposal and chart an alternate course,” one that abandons the one-size-fits-all approach to rezoning based off a citywide standard and instead takes into full account the income levels of each local community.

Another recommendation was to included establishing clear, enforceable rules prohibiting the harassment of existing tenants to reduce the threat of displacement.

“We have to do this right,” said Stringer. “One-size-fits-all doesnt work for New York City. We must find ways to ensure community-based development is the way we move forward together.

When it comes to urban planning, we need to do a better job of listening to existing communities, engaging residents, and considering the long term impact of rezoning on the people who have lived in our neighborhoods most, if not all, of their lives.”

Listening to and engaging the current, local residents in the planning process.

How about that? Maybe it made too much sense.

*To read the full report, go here.*

Join the Conversation


  1. According to de Blasio’s office, and he is probably right, the City Comptroller’s report is not totally factual. The 50,000 people that will be displaced will be those who live in unregulated apartments like mine and because of the escalating rents will be forced to move. Also, the photo associated with this article is not in East New York.

    1. RJ, the article states “East New York has zero protection for 21,788 units that house low-income tenants.” In this instance, similar to what happened in places like Clinton Hill, once those unregulated units that house families (meaning more than one person per unit) are forced to move, and once they discover that the “affordable housing” options in the neighborhood are beyond their reach, they will have to leave the area.

      1. That’s where you change for the J right – I used to catch the train into Woodhaven right across the East New York border.

  2. Wow…looks like gentrification to me. This is a warning to anyone who lives in a city or neighborhood that has low income housing/apartments that are in or close to an area they plan on developing to bring more tax revenue to the city. Your days are numbered so you better pay close attention to what’s going on. It’s happening nation wide.

    1. Hey k a c, curious any articles you have or could reference me to, so I can see how this has been happening nationwide? I’m really interested…

      1. Easy…..you can google search any city and gentrification and it’ll pop up. Los Angeles: look up gentrification in Echo Park. New Orleans: look up gentrification in Treme and the Bywater….etc etc. It is in no way a stretch to say that it’s hitting nationwide and that there is a massive displacement happening in every city.

    1. please explain who you expect to work all the lower wage jobs that cities depend on? If everyone did as you suggested who would operate all the public transportation, repair infrastructure, teach yhe next generations of children, cook and serve you food at restaurants, etc? Are you a firm supporter of $15/hr minimum wage and higher overall wages for middle, low-middle, and low income workers? Your rationale makes no sense. I hope you’ll consider my questions and respond with a meaningful dialogue.

    2. Your comment is callous and void of the realities of NYC’s public school system. Getting a high technology skill requires knowing the names of the occupations, what’s involved in doing the work, and having classes from K to 12 that orient/teach the fundamentals. The classes must be outfitted with the appropriate equipment. This process is true for developing entrepreneurship. There are significant differences in the resources found in public schools by neighborhood.

      There are situations where students can put the daily notes for five subjects on a single sheet of paper. These young people don’t know they’re be “under-educated”.

    3. First all NOT EVERYONE can be fucking rich. It’s because of that snobby attitude this is happening. You are part of the problem. So everyone has to be rich? wtf is that logic. There’s plenty of nice apartments everywhere why destroy an entire neighborhood. There has to be a happy medium. I don’t know if you maybe walk around blind of something NYC has homelessness right now at an all time HIGH. Unless you would like more homeless people pissing and sleeping on the subway system we all ride on and just laying on the street then by all means. This is ridiculous. Move on? JUST MOVING ALONE is money.

    4. my question is since that’s not about to happen where do you think these people will end up if they can’t afford to keep a roof over their heads which include the working poor? you do know that no matter what, in the end the government will have to step in and do something – whatever name you call that agency. you can’t hide millions of people and they won’t die fast enough to expose the inhumane conditions. crime, unrest, hate groups and fear will continue to explode as well as the rampant growth of dis-ease will take on new proportions. you can say what people SHOULD do but you will always have a large portion of the population who be working low income wage jobs, out of work or unable to work – including the elderly and young folk. the majority of people on welfare in the US happens to be White as well as multi cultural groups with the influx of immigrants and skyrocketing births due to tightened abortion restrictions and lengthened life expectancy. so again, where do you hide those folks who can’t pay exuberant rents (along with all the other necessities who’s prices are increasing just as fast) when salaries are stagnant and taxing of the least of us continues to increase while the rich get all the tax breaks!?! keep in mind James Earl Moans you ARE quickly becoming the working poor unless you’re at least a millionaire…

  3. So called “low income” or “affordable” housing is the oldest of political scams. The pockets of our politicians are lined by the very developers that they often rail against in their speeches. They are all bought and paid for courtesy of vampires like Forest City Ratner and many others! I am glad that the comptroller is bringing attention to this sham! Maybe there is still hope.

  4. Low income people it’s time to have a big plan to stay and fix the neighborhoods, have discussions with the youth about starting businesses and employ the community, and have a collective way of doing things

  5. The neighborhoods that no one wanted to live in are quickly changing…parks, sidewalks, and buildings that were unkempt for many years are now renovated, rent increased and is driving the average person out of the neighborhood. they are now relocating in far out neighborhoods or out of state. Hotels and storage are popping up everywhere. Right now it’s survival of the fittest.

  6. It’s very difficult for those of us who are home owners near this section of Brooklyn. While I empathize with low income people ( I am not rich by any means. I make less than six figures) and being pushed out, the other part of me is looking forward to a “better” environment. There are a lot of low income folks who are hard workers and classy people. But then again, there is a significant element that could not care less about the safety, respect, consideration and appreciation of the neighborhood and it’s hard working people. This bad element negatively affects the quality of life for those who want better. As a result, I’m looking forward to gentrification if it bring an end to having to witness the “poor ghetto mentality” that allows one to discard their eaten chicken bones on the sidewalk/street…to blast their music for the whole block to have to endure..to litter, destroy property, and perpetuate negative stereotypes associated with “urban” areas.

    My words may seem insensitive, but there is always a different perspective on an issue based on varied experience. Once again, I hate that good people are having a hard time. But, I can’t wait for certain elements to be forced elsewhere. It would be nice to see respectable businesses grow in the area. Right now, there is hardly anything. To be able to socialize or patronize a nice business (eatery, health food store, lounge, bakery, etc.), we have to travel to elsewhere else in the city.

    My feelings wont make me popular amongst many who read this article , but I can assure you, many homeowners share my sentiments.

    1. I totally understanding the sentiments of 1Libra. I also am an owner in the neighborhood and there are certain elements that can and should be removed. This neighborhood also has the highest number of homeless shelters in the borough. So while our opinions may not be popular and everyone deserves an affordable place to live they cannot and should not be concentrated in one area and expect the area to thrive.

  7. I’m not understanding how the protections all other NYC tenants are afforded with rent regulations and harassment protection (though the article just mentioned Williamsburg and Fort Greene for some reason) are not afforded to residents of East NY. I don’t think the article explained it (and apologies if I missed it). Without that, it invalidates much of the article.

    I’m not oblivious to what gentrification is doing, but one person did comment on it from an owners perspective. Are people who have owned in these neighborhoods for decades not allowed to have a chance for their property values to rise? is the renters’ plight more important than theirs to the point where people want properties to stay devalued for the sake of people who don’t own them?

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