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Whitewashed Brooklyn?: Residents of color priced out of Bedford Armory Development

Stephon Johnson and Nayaba Arinde | 3/23/2017, 10:28 a.m.
A new report from New York Communities for Change shows that affordable housing units in the Bedford Armory development in ...

A new report from New York Communities for Change shows that affordable housing units in the Bedford Armory development in Brooklyn are only affordable if you’re white.

The report, titled “The Whitening of Crown Heights: How the Bedford Armory Development Shuts Out Residents of Color,” outlines how the price ranges of the affordable housing units leave nonwhite Brooklynites out in the virtual cold.

“A straightforward analysis of census data on Brooklyn’s racial and income demographics confirms that the Bedford Courts Development, proposed by BFC Partners, will not serve the neighborhood’s African-American and Latino resident,” read the report. “Rather, the Bedford Courts development will accelerate the whitening of Crown Heights, with fewer affordable apartments available for residents of color who earn lower incomes, and more apartments geared toward whiter, wealthier newcomers to the neighborhood.”

“The defense of gentrification as not being racist is founded on the premise of affordability not being a racial issue but simply based on one’s ability to pay,” declared December 12th Movement activist Omowale Clay.

He added, “However, the economic status of Black people was long ago consolidated under chattel slavery, which continues as African-Americans economic deprivation under America’s colonial domination. Therefore, there are no rules that America has that Black people are bound to respect [Sound familiar?].”

Protestors include Crown Heights residents, housing advocates, members of New York Communities for Change, the Crown Heights Tenants Union, the Black Institute, the Democratic Socialists of America, Picture the Homeless and Laborers Local 79. In attendance at several rallies were Assembly members Walter Mosley and Diana Richardson, State Senator Jesse Hamilton, Crown Heights residents, housing advocates, members of New York Communities for Change, the Crown Heights Tenants Union, the Black Institute, VOCAL-NY, Community Voices Heard, the Democratic Socialists of America and Laborers Local 79. They, along with community activists and elected officials opposing the Bedford Armory development, are calling for the “project to be killed and for the land to be placed into a community land trust.”

A statement from the group said, “Citing a lack of affordability and job standards, local residents and union workers will expose how the project is failing Crown Heights while proposing a new solution that would maximize affordability and protections on the public land.”

Tenants from across the city have called the Armory-CLT plan to be used as a citywide model for public land.

Those opposing the new move say that City Hall and BFC Partners are planning to build 330 luxury units at the public site that most Crown Heights residents cannot afford. They stated, “The highly controversial project has been the source of fierce opposition for a year. In August of last year tenants and housing advocates successfully pressured the city to drop Slate Property Group from the project, the same shady firm involved in a scam to turn the former Rivington House nursing home into luxury condos.”

According to the report, using analysis based on details provided by the Economic Development Corporation in the Draft Scope of Work for an Environmental Impact Statement, if the proposed redevelopment project is completed, 83 percent of the total units would cost tenants or homeowners more than $2,200 (depending on down-payment for homeowners).