Originally published in DNAinfo on March 15, 2017
By Noah Hurowitz
MIDTOWN — An group of anti-gentrification protesters held a mock funeral for affordable housing and briefly disrupted a meeting of the Real Estate Board of New York at a Midtown hotel Wednesday.
The group, led by Faith in New York, marched to the tune of a funeral dirge outside the Hilton Midtown Manhattan Hotel just after 12:30 p.m. to call attention to what they described as REBNY’s role in making New York unaffordable.
“I am here to mourn the death of affordable housing in New York City, and to protect against the displacement of too many residents and small businesses from my neighborhood, Central Harlem. Much of this has been caused by REBNY”s predatory development policies,” said Bishop James Clark of Christ Temple Church in Harlem.
Emily Scott, a Lutheran pastor at St. Lydia’s Church in Gowanus, joined in the eulogies.
“God gives and God takes away; oh wait, it’s the developers who do that!” Scott said. “Affordable housing was not long for this world, unfortunately, and we all know it was taken too soon.”
A REBNY spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Faith in New York, a group of religious leaders from across the city that promote social justice, of the event accused REBNY — which represents some of of the biggest developers in the city — of undermining affordable housing initiatives.
However, REBNY has been a close partner in Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing initiatives and last year helped negotiate an extension of the 421-A tax-exemption, a program that has helped facilitate the creation of a significant portion of recently developed affordable housing, according to a report in Crain’s.
A small marching band entered the third-floor ballroom where the gala was taking place, took the stage, and asked those present to think about middle-class and poor New Yorkers.
They were escorted off the stage and out of the hotel, organizers said.