OpEd by Chris Banks, ENY Advocate and NY City Council Candidate for 42nd District

As we all know, most of New York City has been gentrified, forcing hardworking native New Yorkers to move to other cities due to skyrocketing rents and home prices. Neighborhoods in Council District 42 are now the next target for gentrification in New York City. District 42 covers East New York, and parts of Brownsville, Canarsie and East Flatbush.

I support moving the district forward with a focus on developing high-quality affordable housing and increasing public safety However, we must be smart on how we move forward.  Long time hardworking residents who have worked and retired while living in the community should not be forced out during the time of progress. Through the gentrifying of New York City, hardworking residents have not been protected by lawmakers, and East New York is next on the list if we continue with the same policies.  We’ve seen what has happened throughout the city and this is our chance to get it right.

We need policies in place that will ensure longtime hardworking residents and seniors will occupy the new developments. This is the only way to fight gentrification. Everyone wants progress in their neighborhoods, but it must be done without displacement.

Additionally, it has become nearly impossible for our young people to afford these high rents. While we still have development happening in East New York, this is the time to put real solutions in place that will allow our young people to secure quality housing at an affordable rate.

We also need to get serious about safety. As the new President of the 75th Precinct Council I am working closely with the NYPD to make sure that our residents feel safe, and are safe, without feeling “policed” or harassed.

For the past 20 years East New York has been stuck in a rut. The number of homeless shelters has increased, crime remains a major problem, poor quality developments with sewer backups, decreased arts programs, a condemned Thomas Jefferson HS football field and bad local politics that has been self-serving, with just one family benefiting. It’s no secret that the husband-and-wife duo of Charles and Inez Barron had been in the City Council and Assembly seats, back and forth, at the same time for nearly 20 years, while the ills of the community have become worse. The community has been run by one family for the past 20 years and we are seeing negative results.

The privatization of NYCHA is happening in real time, but this is a process that began over 12 years ago. There has been no transparency over the past 12 years to warn the community about what was going to happen. The privatization of NYCHA is a fast-track path to gentrification. NYCHA is the only city-owned housing that could guarantee affordable rents for the community, if done right.

To move the community forward we need changes, starting with how we think about progress, real community safety, increased arts and culture, high quality affordable development and transparency among our local elected officials We can move forward without displacement, but we must do something different. We can’t expect change if we keep doing the same things repeatedly.

Chris Banks is a candidate for City Council in the 42nd District, which covers East New York, parts of Brownsville, Canarsie and East Flatbush. 

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