Bushwick residents rally against gentrification

Enough!: A bunch activist groups, including the Latino group Basta, turned out members for the demonstration.
The Brooklyn Paper
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We’re here to stay.

That was the message of an anti-gentrification protest march in Bushwick on Wednesday. More than 100 people gathered to demand tightened rent regulations and share stories of what they described as landlord gouging.

“It is clear that we are in a crisis,” said Maria De Los Santos, explaining that she is fighting to keep both her apartment and her Irving Street juice business. “I have no rights, and if I lose my business, I lose everything.”

The activist group Make the Road New York organized the rally and members of Saint Nicks Alliance, United Neighbors Organization, and Los Sures attended.

“We must ensure that our rent laws are strengthened and renewed and only then we will see this plan to preserve and protect truly come to light,” said Los Sures organizer Debbie Medina.

The city’s rent stabilization laws are up for renewal early next year and organizers want to put the pressure on the state to make them more tenant-friendly. For example, they want to reform a rule that allows landlords to increase rent by 20 percent when an apartment is vacated, which they say incentivises evicting longtime residents.

“It is insane that the landlord can get a bonus for getting rid of tenants,” said Make the Road spokesman Jose Lopez. “These rules need to be changed so that they better protect the people.”

Make the Road also wants to weaken a rule that allows building-wide rent increases of as much as 6 percent for so-called “capital improvemen­ts,” which can consist of redoing a sound roof, or repairing a stairwell.

Many Bushwick residents in attendance said they had faced harassment from landlords who wanted them gone.

“We have to set an example,” Maria Najera said in Spanish.

She said she fought with her landlord for years to get him to repair a leaking roof and holes in the floor. All the while, he tried to entice her with money to leave the apartment, she said.

“On the internet, we read that Bushwick is getting better,” Najera said. “But for who?”

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
I read in DNA Info this morning that 600 apartments are coming to south williamsburg in the next year. That should help these people.

It's a shame that Maria Najera couldn't get the so-called "so-called 'capital improvements'" she needed to make her apartment more livable. Being offered money isn't all that bad though. I wouldn't mind being offered money.
Oct. 16, 2014, 10:18 am
Naftali from Boroughpark says:
America is about opportunity. If these people can't take advantage of that, then that is their problem. If they want special treatment while they pay under market rents and run these properties into the ground, they better think again.
Oct. 16, 2014, 11:46 am
bkmanhatman from nubrucklyn says:
Naftali this is where the Deblasio administration has to come in and bear down upon slimy landlords and developers.
Unfortunately these poor hispanics dont have the collective skills of the Satmars.
Oct. 16, 2014, 11:49 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Even if these protesters did somhow "take advantage" of the "opportunity," which I assume means "have more money," if there isn't more housing to go around, their extra money will just translate to higher rents that landlords can extract from them because it's just wealthier people bidding against each other for the same finite resources.

It's a good thing for landlords that we have strict policies in place to keep them from facing competition.
Oct. 16, 2014, 2:13 pm
"Interloper" from Kent Ave says:
None of these people are qualified to say what is a "unnecessary, superficial renovation". The building is the landlord's personal property and they can make whatever improvements they want. The fact that they're trying to turn this into a racial issue by the way is ridiculous.
Oct. 16, 2014, 2:15 pm
Steve from Bushwick says:
Being from Bushwick it is nice to see our local representitives coming out to help the people who have been here for years. Saying that people that have been in the community for years are asking for special treatment is ridiculous and insensitive. Fair rents and buildings that are habitable is not special treament. As a landlord, you shouldn't have to be reminded multiple times for basic maintenance to be done on your property. I personally have heard these kind of stories first hand and it is sickening. I can't stand when people need to be told what they need to do in life rather than just doing what they know is right. It just shows the type of character that person has. Saying that this isn't a racial issue is also ignorant. If you can not see the gentrification happening here then you need glasses. I have also heard stories of some new and or renovated buildings turning away minorites saying there are no spaces available when their are.
Oct. 16, 2014, 7:46 pm
gimme from yours says:
yes less jogging whiteys with bikes, little dogs n' yoga mats please, thank you
Oct. 16, 2014, 8:49 pm
Josh from Bushwick says:
This market-rate resident of Bushwick is fed up with subsidizing the rent of others. Build more housing that non-insiders can actually rent, aka market rate housing, and you'll see costs go down, and long time residents might not be forced out. In the meantime, subsidies either through RC/RS (market rate renters paying the burden through higher rents) or 80/20 programs (through taxes and increased rents for the 80) only benefit a lucky few.

We need several hundred thousand new units in NYC, not the middling amount that the subsidized housing mafia wants to provide, often at an outrageous $300 k a unit. Only the market can provide this housing. Any coincidence that cities with fewer zoning and rent controls have a lower cost of housing overall? I think not. Because I'm priced out of Manhattan, as long as I can effectively save $100/hr for my time commuting further out on the subway, I will do that and will be living here, and will be forcing you out.

In the meantime, you get the housing market that you deserve.
Oct. 16, 2014, 10:42 pm
stanchaz from GreenPernt says:
One way the rent regulations need to be tightened is in the areas of MCI's (Major Capital Improvement)s.
Lets sat the landlord spends some cash on a new boiler. Each tenant in the affected rent stabilized building has his permanent rent increased by a certain amount - but it's not increased JUST until the boiler is paid off. The increase is FOREVER.
What a sweet sweet money-making deal for the landlords- at the expense of the tenants!
We need to write (not just email) our STATE representatives demanding a change in MCI, so that MCI rent increases are in effect ONLY until the improvement is paid off.
And it's our STATE representatives (i.e. Senate and Assembly) because in NYS the State manages rent regulations- not the City (which is another thing to change!) We need home rule!
Oct. 17, 2014, 12:12 am
abc from 123 says:
Planned Parenthood
Oct. 17, 2014, 12:17 am
jjm from c. hill says:
Its crazy how high the rental market is in bushwick today. The fact that people who've been there thru thick & thin are being harassed & pushed out by the very same landlords that they've had for years is sickening. The very 1st thing people have to do to change the rent laws is VOTE this November. The GOP-controlled senate has rejected reforming rent laws throughout the years so keep that in mind when you hit the ballot box.
Oct. 17, 2014, 12:32 am
jjm from c. hill says:
@steve, I've heard of the same things happening in other parts of BK as well. I think all future apartmemt renters should make sure to secretly (or blatanly) record their experience when doing so, just to see the reaction of the staff when inquiring.
Oct. 17, 2014, 12:40 am
abc from bird says:
@Stanchez, Do we not have (bully's) home rule? Ie REBNY and the crooked construction industry?

It's so ingrained on all levels... Even to get work done in a coop on 5th ave, meat packing district, requires the standard bribing of the building management.
Oct. 17, 2014, 7:57 am
chum from brooklyn says:
Meanwhile if you are a tenant being harassed without many rights, you look up your landlord property tax records, chances are your LL isn't paying up... Something for your back pocket.
Oct. 17, 2014, 8:47 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
NYC should only get control over its own rent control if it loses control over its zoning. A city, especially the most important city in the world, should not get to price out all outsiders.
Oct. 17, 2014, 8:57 am
chum from brooklyn says:
bikes and yoga are brain food
Oct. 17, 2014, 9:34 am
more than enough people from Brooklyn says:
Dear Mr. DiBlasio,

We don't need more people, we have more than what fits.

Stop feeding the real-estate markets insatiable appetite. We know your doing it for more taxes and your friends in the real-estate market.

Take care of the people you have before you bring in more that you cannot handle.

This is Brooklyn, not Manhattan and we want to keep it that way.

From your past fellow Brooklynites,

Thank you.
Oct. 17, 2014, 11:27 am
The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
"People who have been here for years" have no more right to Brooklyn than people who have not even move here yet. And "We don't want more people" is not an argument. If "more people" want to move to Brooklyn and they're able to do it, what you "want" is irrelevant. Welfare is an entitlement, food stamps are an entitlement, rent control is an entitlement. Brooklyn is not an entitlement.
Oct. 17, 2014, 1:09 pm
123 from abc says:
Entitlement for 2 kids per mom and dad? And we wonder why there is only a 1% of the upper echelons, rather than say 5%...

If zoning is going to get all Manhattan on Brooklyn, the birthrate should parallel, no?

Control, control, control. How about self control.
Oct. 17, 2014, 3:08 pm
Teresa from Greenpoint says:
Let's see how you guys feel when you're seniors on a fixed income. Suddenly rent controlled/affordable housing, and staying in the neighborhood where you already have a network of support and comfort, is going to matter a whole lot more to you.
Oct. 17, 2014, 7:36 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
When I'm a senior, I'm gonna be mad at the people in power now who didn't let buildings be built tall enough to warrant elevators. Stairs are hard for seniors! Elevators aren't.
Oct. 17, 2014, 9:57 pm
abc from bird says:
@Mike, 5 floors is all it takes to warrant an elevator, according to DoB. Oddly tho the height of a floor is only vaguely defined by the zoning.
Oct. 17, 2014, 11:20 pm
can't sleep from bird says:
DoB should state the elevator requirement with a measurement rather than an abstract word.
Oct. 17, 2014, 11:49 pm
can't sleep from bird says:
And those 5 floors are based upon the abilities of emergency response teams, with zero regards for seniors.
Oct. 18, 2014, 4:11 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
After the Bloomberg-era downzoning of Williamsburg, how many places are you even allowed to build a 5 floor building? Just along the water and on the major streets like Metropolitan and Grand?
Oct. 18, 2014, 3:09 pm
231 from bird says:
@Mike, 'Bloomberg-era downzoning', oh please. It was mostly massive upzoning. And DeBlasio is on it too, though he with zero regard for quality of life, thus far.

If you are really so interested in construction, why not focus on stuff like upgrading our antiquated CSO system.

A juicy detail for you though... Our now overcrowded Central Park came into being via eminent domain.

Why are so eager to go big anyways? When you build small, you can concentrate your budget, rather than being forced to spread it thin. Big projects are almost always compromised at the human scale due to unrealistic budgets (and often poor massing).

Quality, not quantity. And I'm not confusing luxury with quality. Though nice touches like hvac systems that take in polluted air and exhaust clean air probably don't come cheap.
Oct. 18, 2014, 4:39 pm
231 from bird says:
You can get tax deductions for building efficiently (what should be the standard).

Nothing to do with Colorado.
Oct. 18, 2014, 4:54 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
@231 we can disagree about whether downzoning much of north Brooklyn was a good idea, but the fact is that it happened.
Oct. 18, 2014, 6:03 pm
321 from bird says:
I hate to break it to you Mike, that 'contextual' downzone had nothing to do with the real context. In fact your 'downzone' is about 3 floors higher than most buildings in the hood. So the contextual rezone was an upzone, as was the waterfront rezone. And all of this without legitimate environmental impact statements to prove that these two upzones will have zero adverse impacts on the hood.

Just to more finely articulate, I am not against gentrification. I am however against poor planning. Construction is destructive, unless if it well executed.
Oct. 18, 2014, 7:29 pm
321 from bird says:
Oct. 18, 2014, 7:31 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
Gentrification is too complex to reduce it to simple prescriptions like, "Eliminate all rent control and the magical invisible hand of the market will provide," or "Stop all development and change FOREVER!!!" In the end what gentrification means is in the eye of the beholder. If you get forced out by rising rents, you lose your social strata in a place your family might have been for generations. On the other hand, if you are in a rent-controlled place in a gentrifying neighborhood, you get to ride the rising tide of more funding for the schools your kids go to and more political attention and budget for all the things in your area. And if you're lucky enough to own your own place in that neighborhood, congratulations you've won the lottery. You can sell and retire to Florida with your proceeds.
Oct. 18, 2014, 9 pm
123 from birrrd says: flooding&oe=UTF-8&channel=browser&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ei=IitDVK7TLc2ZyASy4ICQBA&ved=0CBkQsAQ

Time to up the ante.
Oct. 18, 2014, 10:11 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
When the zoning goes from allowing more building to allowing less, that's a downzoning. I don't know why you think you're "breaking" anything to me. I know what words mean. It'd help this conversation if you did.

When development was choked off in Williamsburg thanks to the Bloomberg downzoning, it's no surprise that people in Bushwick are worried about displacement. But hey, people in Williamsburg don't have to see tall buildings!
Oct. 18, 2014, 11:45 pm
312 from bird says:
Mike, The contextual rezone was primarily a redistribution of FAR. The exact details of which we do not know, as there was no (accurate) environmental impact study provided.

Trouble is your argument is supply and demand, why then are you concerned with upzoning, when the existing zoning was nowhere close to having been maxed out?

Sadly meanwhile, all eyes were on the waterfront as McGuiness became littered with construction such as 301.
Oct. 19, 2014, 10:20 am
321 from bird says:
My concern with buildings such as 301 McGuiness, is not it's state of stagnation, rather it's terrible construction.
Oct. 19, 2014, 10:43 am
312 from bird says:
Greedy land grabbing terrible construction quality!!!
Oct. 19, 2014, 11:43 am
Lou from Clinton Hill says:
I think Protesting against the Gentrification is a smoke screen for the real problem, which is lack of financial skills and means from the protesters.

I offered 3 times to sell one of my properties to one of my tenants back in 2012. They told me that the market will continue to crash and I should lower their rents.

Now it's 2 years after. The property I offered appreciated by $300k, the market rents increased by over 15%.

They also had the collective means to buy it. They just refused to do so.

I don't see the problem with property values and rents increasing. I see the problem as people not being able to organize themselves for long term investing in Real Estate.
Oct. 19, 2014, 1:23 pm
357 from bird says:
@ Lou, If only politics would cater to brains, rather than money and mobs.

Skills... interesting, interesting, as skills are developable.
Oct. 19, 2014, 3:12 pm
Sm from Bushwick says:
As a small landlord, I'd rather keep an apartment empty than filled with a regulated tenants. Tightening the laws will only make people more desperate to get rid of tenants. An apartment in the neighborhood of your choosing is not a right. People know this everywhere except NYC.
Oct. 21, 2014, 7:24 am
Douglas from Harlem says:
You should own property - not rent. You should have seen this coming from a mile away and bought when it was dirt cheap.
The constitution protects private property owners. The concept is not new and has been supported by court ruling after court ruling.
If you want protection from eviction/being priced out then buy an apartment and enjoy the profits from living in an ever improving neighborhood.
Oct. 21, 2014, 8:40 am
Jordan from Bed Stuy says:
The tenant entitlement is insane! they all want something for nothing. How are property owners supposed to pay for repairs and reinvest in their properties when you are paying $500/month. Plumbers don't get out of bed for less than $250 A DAY! 1 1 does not equal 3. Time to WAKE UP
Oct. 30, 2014, 12:23 pm

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