Longtime Bronx resident Lourdes de la Cruz vows to continue to fight the battle against gentrification but she says hope can only go so far if the city doesn’t listen to concerns of communities.
The 48-year-old fears will be directly impacted by the Jerome Avenue zoning that is part of Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York Plan and she is worried she will be priced out of her apartment.
One of the Bronx voices at a Sunday meeting, de la Cruz gave her support at the New Settlement Community Center where Bronx residents united against gentrification.
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Organized by Bronx nonprofit New Settlement Apartments Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA) and non-profit, advocacy news organization City Limits, several hundred Bronx residents met to discuss the impact it has on rents and local businesses.
De la Cruz’s monthly rent is $1,300 for a two-bedroom she shares with her husband and 2 kids.
“I won’t have money to rent somewhere else here in NY,” she said. “It makes me feel worried because I don’t know what I’m going to do. The only thing I can do is to fight, to make sure the city gives us what we need as a community,”
A CASA leader and a member of The Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision — formed after the announcement of the City’s plans to rezone 73 blocks along Jerome Avenue from 167th Street to 184th Street — de la Cruz said when she first learned of it, she was worried Bronx would become like East Harlem and Washington Heights, who experienced the same thing.
“We’re doing what we have to do as a community,” she said.
It means organizing from the bottom-up with grassroot campaigns such as putting together a policy platform to get the attention of city officials to listen to community concerns, she said.
“Can we afford to live here?” says Fitzroy Christian, another CASA leader and a member of the Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision.
“We’re saying that with all this development, there can be development without displacement,” Christian said. “You're building for people who are making at most three times more in income than people who live here. That sends a very clear message you’re not building for people here. Your building for newcomers.”
De Blasio’s housing plan has been an effort to tackle New York’s affordable housing bubble, but rezoning has left many feeling that it’s adding more to the problem than solving. While rezoning requires a certain threshold for “affordable” apartments, analysts have said it could push displacement.