February 9, 2016
By Marc Bussanich for LaborPress
New York, NY – Last week the New York City Planning Commission approved two controversial zoning proposals, which the City Council is expected to take up this week. On Monday morning on the steps of City Hall, union workers and community groups protested the proposals because they say they don’t offer enough affordable housing units.
The union-backed Real Affordability for all Coalition issued a recent report, “A Tale of One Housing Plan,” claiming that Bill de Blasio’s housing plan doesn’t differ much from former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan when it comes to building affordable units for low-income New Yorkers.
The report took aim at the Mayor’s statement he made in January that his administration had already built and preserved approximately 40,000 units of housing in 2014 and 2015, which is “major progress on critical fronts in New York City’s housing crisis.” According to the coalition, de Blasio has only delivered 11 percent, compared to Bloomberg’s 17 percent, affordable units for low-income households with income levels of 31 to 50 percent of the average median income.
Numerous workers from different private sectors said they wouldn’t be able to afford to live in the units the administration is calling affordable.
Michelle Denis is a construction worker with the group 100 Black Construction Workers. She said that while she can earn up to as much as $70,000 in one year, her earnings can drop significantly below $50,000 the following year.
“I was out of work for two years due to a downturn in the industry. But the city denied me an affordable housing unit because they said that I didn’t qualify. The income necessary to live in an affordable housing unit for one person was $60,000. Who’s making that?”
Maritza Silva-Farrell with the group Alliance for a Greater New York said, when asked how should de Blasio’s housing plan be modified, that the city should lower the income thresholds so that New Yorkers earning $25,000 or less can qualify.
“As it stands now, the plan is focused mainly on people earning $46,000 and above. That needs to change. We have to make sure that any density given away to developers includes requirements that people who live in the neighborhoods designated for rezoning qualify for affordable housing.”