Author: Crystal Walthall

Holding on to that Rent-Stabilized Apartment Is Getting Harder in Some Neighborhoods

There are still more than 900,000 rent-stabilized apartments in New York City, but these regulated units are turning over at a faster rate in certain neighborhoods, according to a new report by the city’s Independent Budget Office Astoria, Morningside Heights and Bay Ridge all have high concentrations of rent-regulated housing built prior to 1974. It’s an important distinction, because older units are more likely than newer units to rent below market rates, the report says. But the neighborhoods also have particularly high turnover rates compared to other parts of the city, says the budget office’s Sarah Stefanski. “High turnover rates may indicate tenant mobility, changing neighborhood characteristics, or perhaps landlord efforts to vacate apartments,” Stefanski said. Diane Brown from the Justice For All Coalition has been organizing against gentrification in Astoria, which had 16,543 rent stabilized apartments between 2010 and 2015. She said the 300 members of her group are constantly complaining about rising rents. “They are moving out because they almost can’t afford the area anymore. The supermarkets are going up. Everything is changing.” Brown said tenants that get pushed out often resort to renting rooms because they can no longer afford an entire apartment. In Upper Manhattan, several neighborhoods have been gentrifying for years, but there are significant differences in the rate of turnover. The southern portion of Washington Heights had just over 21,000 rent stabilized apartments and a turnover rate of 9 percent,...

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Could Dozens Of Shuttered Catholic Churches Become Immigrant Sanctuaries?

Roman Catholic activists are calling on the Archdiocese of New York to take a stronger stance against deportation. While dozens of churches, mosques and synagogues across the city are opening their doors to immigrants, providing everything from know-your-rights training to physical sanctuary from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they say Cardinal Timothy Dolan isn’t doing his share. Some are calling on Dolan to explicitly denounce deportation, while others see an opportunity in the dozens of empty churches across Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx: buildings that have stood empty since August 2015, when the Archdiocese consolidated parishes as part of a sweeping plan to save on maintenance costs, particularly in parishes with dwindling attendance. Roughly 40 NYC churches have been merged into a neighboring parish since the consolidations, according to the archdiocese; 24 of them are closed for worship. The archdiocese, which also includes counties north of the city, shrank by 20 percent in one year. Felix Cepeda, an advocate for immigration rights and church reform, told Gothamist that the recent uptick in immigration enforcement across the country has inspired him. While ICE agents can legally cross a church threshold with a judicial warrant in hand, houses of worship technically qualify as “sensitive locations,” which ICE is directed to “generally” avoid. “A couple of these buildings need to be opened immediately,” Cepeda said. “At least one place that can be...

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Anti-Gentrification Marching Band Stages ‘Funeral’ at Real-Estate Gala

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...

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NYCHA Worries Drive Doubts About Long Island City Rezoning

Originally published at City Limits on March 14, 2017 Written by Abigail Savitch-Lew On Monday night, public-housing residents and other Long Island City and Astoria stakeholders expressed strong skepticism about the city’s rezoning study for Long Island City, with many attendees expressing concern that a potential rezoning would create housing unaffordable to low-income residents at a time when federal budget cuts threaten to undermine the viability of public housing. The forum, hosted by the Justice For All Coalition, was the Department of City Planning (DCP)’s sixth meeting with local groups since they launched the rezoning study in January. DCP Queens Director John Young emphasized that the agency is still in the “listen and learn” stage of the process, and that “it’s not entirely clear if there will be a rezoning [and] what parts of the area would be rezoned.” The study focuses on roughly the same area surrounding Queens Plaza that was rezoned by the Bloomberg administration in 2001. That rezoning did not create as much commercial development as DCP hoped, and the agency’s aim for their current study is primarily to stimulate more commercial development, with housing development—including the creation of income-targeted housing through the city’s new mandatory inclusionary housing policy—a secondary goal. Other core goals of the study include enhancing neighborhood quality through infrastructure and open space improvements, and increasing job opportunities. Since January, DCP has also met with...

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