When the city of New York released its rezoning plans for 73 blocks of Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, the government thought it was solving a lot of lingering problems. However, activists who fear Bronx gentrification are claiming that there is no solid provision for low-income housing in the new rezoning plans, and there is also no guarantee that the city will guarantee a process for retaining businesses in the area. We previously wrote about Bronx low-income housing here.
The Problem With Rezoning And Low Income Housing In The Bronx
Gentrification has been occurring in many of the other boroughs of New York City, and the displaced low-income families have been coming to the Bronx to live. According to the city, 20 to 30 percent of the new housing that will be built on Jerome Street will be affordable to low-income families. But activists who have looked over the proposal for rezoning say that there is nothing to stop developers from building only high-income housing that will cause significant gentrification in the Bronx.
Long-time residents of the Bronx fear that more luxury housing is going to push out residents who have lived in the Bronx for generations. Doing so will make the Bronx a difficult place for low-income families to live. One of the fears is that an influx of thousands of new and wealthy residents means that many resident groups will start to see new board members that have no history in the Bronx and have their own agendas. This change in resident leadership would alter the focus away from low-income housing and leave many long-time residents without a place to live.
What Will Happen To The Businesses?
Activists who oppose the rezoning say that the stretch of Jerome Street that is to be changed contains a significant amount of auto repair and auto sales companies that employ many of the people who live in the surrounding communities. The city says that plans are being made to protect neighborhood businesses, but activists say that only around 28 percent of the businesses in the area are located in the protected zones.
Residents of the area surrounding Jerome Street say that many of the existing businesses will need to relocate, and the residents will need to relocate to follow their jobs. Once again, this moves out the long-time residents and could potentially allow the city government to rezone other parts of the Bronx that would allow more luxury housing to be built. Many residents and activist groups are convinced that the new rezoning plans for Jerome Street are simply new chapters in the growing gentrification of New York City.
The Mayor’s Role In All Of This Process
Mayor Bill de Blasio is convinced that the weak housing market in the Jerome Street part of the Bronx will mean that developers will have to use city incentives to build new housing developments. Since those incentives require 20 to 30 percent of all new housing developments to be low-income housing, the mayor is confident that this new rezoning plan is not going to help gentrify the Bronx any further.
However, activists and community leaders insist that there are plenty of ways around those types of incentives that would allow developers to build only luxury housing. Some community groups are suggesting that Jerome Avenue is only the beginning when it comes to gentrifying the rest of the Bronx. The city has not indicated whether or not it will force developers to take incentives on projects on Jerome Street, and it should be noted that there are no laws in place forcing the city to utilize those incentives to get new building going.
The Constant Displacement Of Low Income Families
Many community groups fear that if the Bronx becomes gentrified, then that will force low-income families to start looking for housing in the suburbs. The problem with that is most of the jobs low-income families have are located in the city, and public transportation into the city is very weak from the suburbs. Without adequate housing or transportation, it is starting to look like the city is trying to force low-income families to relocate to other parts of the country.
Hundreds of people showed up to voice their displeasure when the city of New York opened up the Jerome Street rezoning plans for public debate. The anti-rezoning plan faction was large and vocal, but it remains to be seen if the city will listen to its residents, or if it will move forward with its continued gentrification of the Bronx.