By Nayaba Arinde
“New York is very aggressive, we don’t do anything in moderation,” said Gina Sanchez, 30, a Brooklyn advertising executive. “When it rains, it pours. If it snows, it’s snowstorms. When it’s humid, it’s really hot. The people too – we give a lot because we experience a lot. It’s New York or nowhere.”
In a world where global issues are dominating the news cycle, everyday local concerns may get ignored or underplayed.
Community building and repair are issues always in the background of the minds of many, as folk navigate everyday living, faced with issues like shootings, stabbings, mental health issues, drug addiction, the migrant crisis, and homelessness.
And then there is ethnic cleansing…
“Brooklynites are talking about how through gentrification we are losing out on starting businesses in our own community,” Daleel Jabir Muhammad told Our Time Press. “Vacant stores are being warehoused in the neighborhoods where we lived for many years, while other ethnic groups are steered to these affordable investment properties to open retail stores in our areas. Unfair practices are hard to prove, but we see the process of unscrupulous renting/ leasing as clear as day.”
The swift gentrification of many traditionally Black neighborhoods is glaring too.
The Nation of Islam Eastern Regional Protocol Director from Mosque Number 7, Mr. Muhammad continued, “America’s for sale, everybody is buying homes and stores – but us.”
He said that the community must get young people involved. “There are problems and solutions. We have to be more engaged with our youth to connect them and get them involved in the work that must be done. There is nothing new under the sun, just solutions we have never tried.”
Charging that “We are at full capacity,” NYC Mayor Eric Adams announced his decision this past Monday to open a migrant family encampment at Floyd Bennett Field.
Republican Queens Councilwoman Joan Ariola called the move “a recipe for disaster;” with many of the 2000 migrants allowed to bring their lithium battery-powered e-bikes, the chair of the fire services committee called the new facility “a potential fire trap.”
“The migrant situation is too much. There are so many homeless people here already who are not being taken care of, and now the city just adds to the problem,” said Joan Williams, a Manchester, England transplant, originally from Anguilla and Nevis.
Ms. Williams, a brownstone owner who has lived in Brooklyn for 40 years, added, “My sister Julie has been trying to get a place for five years, but the prices are too high. She works, and she’s on the Housing Connect lottery, but she hasn’t got a response. There is a housing problem, but, the city is not dealing with the influx of migrants well at all.”
Inner city blues plus, the massive rent and home price increases are leading to an exodus of longtime Black residents who say they simply can no longer afford to live in the city.
“A lot of my friends moved out to New Jersey during the coronavirus crisis, and they are paying less in mortgages than I am paying in rent,” said Adesowa O., an employee in a Crown Heights supermarket. “Now, I am looking for an apartment in New Jersey as well, somewhere where I can get back to New York easily for work.”
There are dozens of condos being constructed all over Kings County, arguably the Area Median Income (AMI), of the majority of the Black and Brown populace is not being considered.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) determines the AMI metric for household sizes in every city nationwide, “The 2023 AMI for the New York City region is $127,100 for a three-person family.”
Tasked with promoting the quality and affordability of the city’s housing, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) says, “Housing is considered affordable if it costs about one-third or less of what the people living there earn…the Area Median Income (AMI).”
Renthop.com states that in October 2023, median rents have risen over the last year, with an 8.34% increase for studio rentals prices, up from $3,138 to $3,400; and 1-bedroom rentals prices have increased from $3,958 to $4,195 etc.
Renthop.com stated “There are a total of 29 cities nearby Brooklyn. The average rent in Brooklyn is currently $3,000 per month. A total of 24 cities nearby have an average rent lower than that. Our records show that Bridgeport, CT, with an average rent of $1,838, is the most affordable city nearby.”
Gina Sanchez told Our Time Press, “I dropped out of college. I couldn’t afford it. Do I pay my college tuition? Or do I pay rent? When all my friends were in college, I was in the workforce. But I love New York, and I wanted to live here comfortably.”
Saying that she was on her way to a five-week vacation in Mexico City, as she got her hair braided in a Brooklyn salon, the recently divorced, ‘Eat, pray, loving remote-working ad exec smiled, “ I just got back from 2 months in California…But, I always come back. I was born and raised here. New York is home. New York isn’t going anywhere.”
Brownsville activist, barber, and businessman Al Mathieu told Our Time Press, “People are talking about their concerns about the migrants. One of my staff members thinks it is a conspiracy because they think at some point there is going to be a war; and so they are bringing in these young men, giving them temporary status, so that they can join the army.”
The CEO of Brownsville Think Tank Matters/ Developing Righteous United Movement (D.R.U.M.) said, “I think some of the asylum seekers are here to do a good thing. I have helped some get their OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) training. The only thing is the language barrier, other than that, they are ready to go to work. They need money, and they are hungry. They want to work.”
Mr. Mathieu also taught Black history classes in East New York and Brownsville at an afterschool program; and has worked with formerly incarcerated people; before creating his Brownsville, East New York, and Flatbush community organization.
“There’s a lot of gang stuff going on,” he said. “There are a lot of sneaky incidents. It is bad because we don’t always know what’s happening. A lot of family and community members reach out to us and tell us what is going on. It is very complex, but we are trying to get ahead of it. We have young people doing their best to help residents, and we are trying to combat gun violence. We are reaching out to the parents too because a lot is going on. There are 13-year-olds running around with firearms. It’s a different day, I hope it will get better.”