At our monthly planning meetings for WestView News, the subject of rising rents and affordable housing comes up frequently. In our latest meeting, I mentioned the lawsuit against the city for granting preference to neighborhood applicants, and mentioned that I was writing a letter to Mayor de Blasio and other city officials to urge them to fight this lawsuit. WestView’s publisher, George Capsis, asked that I instead write it as an open letter to be published in the newspaper.
The Honorable Mayor de Blasio
City Hall Park
cc: CB2 District Manager Bob Gormley, CB2 Chair Tobi Bergman, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member Corey Johnson
Dear Mayor de Blasio,
I was very disturbed to hear that the Anti-Discrimination Center is suing the city for discriminatory practices in granting affordable housing by giving preference to applicants who currently live in the neighborhood where the units are being offered. The reason for the lawsuit seems outrageous to me.
As I understand it, with tens of thousands of applicants for each available unit, 20% of the units can go to local residents in need of affordable housing. That means that if a building is offering 20 affordable units, two (two!) can be given to neighborhood applicants who qualify.
Many people looking for affordable units hope to be granted one in the community they currently live in. Some have lived in these communities for a long time, perhaps were even born there. They have strong ties to their neighborhoods and for some, especially the elderly, leaving the place where they’ve made their homes can be a hardship.
I’m one of those people who has been fortunate enough to live in the West Village for 37 years, but find it increasingly difficult to live on my Social Security and freelance income, and am seeking an affordable unit.
I love this neighborhood. I served here in the Sixth Precinct as an Auxiliary Police Officer for thirty years, I’ve worked for WestView News for several years, and I have a blog that serves the neighborhood with listings of local events and occasional news items. (www.westvillageword.com.)
I have applied to many other buildings offering affordable units, but being in a lottery group of tens of thousands of applicants makes the chances of even being interviewed slim to none. I understand that the St. Luke’s project, a few blocks from where I live will soon be offering applications, and my dearest wish is to have at least a small chance of staying in the neighborhood I know and love.
I hope the city fights this lawsuit with all its might