Rally for East Bronx affordable housing draws officials and workers, while opposition continues

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New York Construction News staff writer

New York City Mayor Eric Adams joined labor unions, advocacy groups, and Bronx community partners at a rally in support of a proposed affordable housing project that would build homes for seniors and veterans, on Bruckner Boulevard in Throggs Neck.

“I’m super psyched to be here this morning to support affordable housing in our city,” said Kyle Bragg, president of 32BJ SEIU. “It’s not just housing that we need… but we need good jobs that accompany housing.

“The bottom line is, we need affordable housing throughout our community and it can be done right. That’s what this project is about.

The union supports the proposed development because it will create housing and construction jobs.

“I want everyone to know that 32BJ and it’s members that live in this community are super excited about this because they not only get the opportunity to see affordable housing, but to work in the community that they live in.”

The proposed Bruckner Boulevard would create 349 new homes for the East Bronx, including 168 with rent protections – 99 for seniors and 22 for veterans in need, as well as a modernized grocery store and community facilities, including space for local youth after-school programming.

Developers are asking city council to change zoning near Bruckner Boulevard and Crosby Avenue to allow the renovation of a supermarket and construction of 400 apartments. Mayor Eric Adams has publicly supported the development.

“This project is just right,” he said during a rally. “It’s the right project for the right time.”

However, at a council hearing considering the zoning change, Throggs Neck residents voiced their opposition to the redevelopment, saying it would change the character of the quiet, residential community.

If approve, the development would be built in a community that created just 58 new affordable homes between January 2014 and December 2021 — among the lowest of any neighborhood in the city.

“A handful of voices saying ‘No’ can’t stop the ‘City of Yes,'” Adams said. “Safe, stable, and affordable housing should not be a privilege — but we can only provide that for every New Yorker if we say yes to new affordable housing all across the city.

“I want to thank our brothers and sisters in labor, all the advocates, and the elected officials who have supported this project and worked so hard to make it a reality.”

The proposal requires approval by the New York City Council and was approved by the City Planning Commission on Aug. 24.

“Tackling our city’s housing shortage means welcoming new neighbors into our communities citywide — and standing up to those who refuse to do so. While the Bruckner rezoning is a small-scale project, it sends an important message,” said Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz. “New York City is the greatest city in the world because it continues to grow, change, and welcome new people. We must continue to build new housing to serve future New Yorkers and those who are struggling to afford to stay here today. We are all responsible for making this city more affordable, and that starts with projects like this one. I hope the City Council will vote yes and help us house our neighbors.”

The citywide affordable housing crisis has impacted every neighborhood, “so every neighborhood must be part of the solution,” said Brendan Cheney, director of policy and communications, New York Housing Conference.

“Unfortunately, Council District 13, which includes Throggs Neck, is not doing its share. Over the past eight years, the district produced just 58 units of new affordable housing — the fifth-smallest number in the city during that time period.

“Meanwhile, the district has a real need for affordable housing: 14.7 percent of its households live below the poverty level, and more than half of renters are rent-burdened. It’s time for every neighborhood to say ‘Yes’ to more affordable housing, and only when that happens will we be able to truly solve this problem in an equitable and sustainable manner.”

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