Lower East Side and Chinatown Coalition Gracie Mansion Rally

Article By Jazmin Justo

December 16-At the front of the Gracie Conservatory, a rally was held in protest against Mayor de Blasio’s rezoning plans. As most New Yorkers know, it’s expensive to live in the city, and many New Yorkers work overtime just to be able to afford rent along with the bills. The cost of living isn’t made any beter with Mayor De Blasio continuing the rezoning plan of the previous Mayor Bloomberg. The rezoning plan is targeting Flushing, Jackson Heights, the Lower East Side and Chinatown to become sites of luxury condominiums such as the plan to build a 80 story luxury Extell tower at the Lower East Side. These specific neighborhoods already have issues from landlord harassment and forced evictions. There has also been reports of negligence in NYCHA public housing in part of the inspectors that delay in fixing heat related issues. Recently on Pix11, a family living in NYCHA reported a wall that had mold and needed it removed. Visibly tainted and tattered, they were told by NYCHA inspectors that there was no need for repairs. Mold in any dwelling is a health hazard, and similar problems of the landlord’s negligence to repair dysfunctional stairs or plumbing are rampant across the city. The Coalition of the Lower East Side and Chinatown has collaborated with 50 other organizations citywide along with urban planning professionals to create a comprehensive plan that will construct affordable housing, support small businesses, and providing funding for schools. The NYC Council has deemed the plan “too ambitious” even though the plan is very similar to the East Village plan that was approved under Mayor Bloomberg’s administration in 2008.

On October 28, the Coalition for the Lower East Side with the Chinatown Working Group marched with 1 million people to City Hall. On December 06, 700 people attended the Town Hall Meeting at Seward High School. Mayor De Blasio sent a representative who said, “With several amendments and changes, the plan will be approved. The plan as is, is not possible. Compromises must be made.” Everyone disapproved of his statement at the meeting.

For seven long years, the organizations and coalition collaborated to create the comprehensive plan while providing legal assistance to tenants who are being harrassed or denied basic heating or water throughout the city. Citywide, small businesses are shutting down because the rents are too high to pay. “What more can be compromised?! Is it too much too ask for equal treatment?!” shouted the local Chinatown elder at the representative. City Councilwoman Velasquez, District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar, and District Leader Pedro Cardi have been giving their full support for the Coalition plan and have repeatedly arranged meetings with the mayor. However, the mayor’s office has repeatedly cancelled each meeting at the last minute. The rallies are being held at Gracie Mansion every Wednesday, in order to bring the issue to the mayor directly.

The rezoning plan created by the Coalition of the Lower East Side and Chinatown can be found at: http://chinatownworkinggroup.org/2014-01-01%20Pratt%20Report%20to%20CWG.pdf

For more information about the organization visit: http://www.chinatownworkinggroup.orgTo keep up to date with the campaign visit: http://peoplefirstnyc.org/

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