Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to invest $1.4 billion in Central Brooklyn neighborhoods like East New York, Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, and Crown Heights to provide affordable housing, enhanced community space, and resiliency projects for the areas. Since then, residents have been on the fence about the proposal, including Mayor Bill de Blasio. While de Blasio question where the money for Cuomo’s ambitious plan will come from, some people are fearing that the changes could be preparation to welcome a new set of residents into the neighborhoods while displacing the current ones.
In a recent article, the New York Times took to the streets of Central Brooklyn to gauge thoughts held by residents on Governor Cuomo’s investment plan. According to the Times, “Parents who keep their children mostly inside for safety warily embraced it. Others worried about the potential for gentrification, leading to the displacement of the area’s mostly black and Latino residents.”
The fear is a rational one, considering so many of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods have become a playground for developers looking to bring pricey apartments to the borough in an effort to attract prospective Manhattanites to Brooklyn. “Why now? You had all these times to make these changes, now Brooklyn is a hot spot — everyone wants a piece of it,” asked Brownsville resident Jasamine Vieira. Cuomo’s plan stands a chance to introduce much-needed improvements but the billion dollar question is: at what cost to the locals?
On the contrary, Cuomo’s counsel Alphonso David asserts that the plan is in fact a counter to gentrification. “If we did nothing, you would see Central Brooklyn become even more gentrified than it is now. This plan, in essence, is to keep people here.” Only time will tell who is right on this one.