In August, community groups from all over Harlem gathered to protest the displacement being caused by new apartment buildings and rising rents.
The Department of Housing Preservation and Development has put out a Request for Proposals to build an affordable housing development on the corner of East 112th street and Madison avenue.
Members of several community groups including Community Voices Heard, Picture the Homeless, and El Barrio Unite have said that this proposal in not enough.
The Request for Proposals says that “The project must be entirely affordable and include residential units that are affordable to a mix of household incomes that meet the needs, and contribute to the diversity, of the community.”
Members of the community groups are concerned that the supposedly affordable rates won’t be accurate for East Harlem, according to Amelia Barner, who is a spokeswoman for the group Community Voices Heard.
According to Barnes, the average income range in the neighbourhood is $19,000 to $33,000 a year. The HPD has said that some units will be available for families making as low as $24,000 — but many protesters worried that too many of the units will go to tenants with much higher incomes.
Housing anxieties in the city are very real — not only is it hard to find a place with affordable rent, but other living costs make it an almost insurmountable challenge. Research has shown that homeowners spend between one and four percent of their home’s value on maintenance, and while renters typically avoid some of these big costs, they still must think about maintaining their homes.
Protesters are also worried that these affordable units won’t be affordable forever, although the HPD’s request has a stipulation that the units must remain rent-controlled for at least 30 years.