By Ydanis Rodriguez, Council Member
I would like to invite you to our large open house to discuss the latest happenings around the Inwood NYC neighborhood planning process. Over the past year, we have engaged well over 1,000 residents, hearing their ideas, concerns and thoughts for building and sustaining the community we know and love for the coming decades. A draft proposal was produced in May by NYC EDC, a draft now able to be shaped with your input and insight. This draft proposal entails key investments in local infrastructure, incentives to build new affordable and mixed income housing east of 10th Avenue in Inwood and ideas to spur economic development and job growth in the burgeoning fields of technology and health to connect our residents with quality jobs.
This process was announced several years ago during my State of the District address, where I highlighted the dire challenges our community faces when it comes to affordable housing. While we have a crucial stock of rent regulated units, we’ve seen landlords take up shameful tactics to push tenants out and convert these apartments to market rate levels. Once pushed out, tenants have few options in the suddenly pricier neighborhood they’ve long lived in. This is happening; it is real and it is underway.
We see every day the cost of doing nothing and it is high. The fears of gentrification and rising rents and cost of living, are ones that plague the many residents who have lived in this community for decades; who fought through the tough years in order to celebrate where we are today. We cannot allow the hard work we’ve all put in to be left to landlords now pushing people out.
For Upper Manhattan to remain a welcoming place for all, regardless of race, religion or socio-economic background, we must be thoughtful and deliberate in our approach and meet these challenges head-on. InwoodNYC is about taking action, being proactive rather than reactive to a moment of sudden crisis. We now have an opportunity to lead this discussion and see our concerns addressed.
Thus far in this process, conversations have circled around how we can expand the stock of affordable housing we so desperately need; how to improve and fortify our infrastructure for the next 50 years; and how we can spur economic development and job growth in a community with higher than average unemployment and incomes levels below the city’s median.
On Thursday evening, I hope to hear your contribution to this discussion. I strongly encourage you to attend, provide input, hear where we are in the process and add your voice to where we can go. It is important to come equipped with ideas as opposed to pure objections. We cannot put our heads in the sand as our residents are pushed out and our neighbors most in need are left stranded.