2002-11-23 / Editorial/Opinion

A Fear of Gentrification

A Fear of Gentrification

With the enormous housing boom taking place in Rockaway, many people believe that the community is on its way back to becoming the Rockaway of old. Sections of the peninsula that have languished in poverty over the years are now getting a much needed face-lift, and life long residents in certain areas couldn’t be happier. However, there are those in other areas who fear that the new housing is being built to attract the upper-income and wealthy class to Rockaway. Ed Williams, President of the Far Rockaway Chapter of the NAACP, recently stated the following at an economic conference last week. "There is no question that a housing boom is underway in this community. However, you have to ask yourself an important question. Who exactly is going to benefit?" Williams said that low-income families, where both parents are working minimum wage jobs, would have to work a total of 191 hours a week in order to be able to maintain residency in the new homes. He also noted that even couples making decent salaries would struggle to survive in the new Rockaway. "There are some very clear indications that low-income residents will not be welcomed as part of the Rockaway community in the future. I have no problem with Rockaway’s renovation or reconstruction, but I do have a problem with gentrification. Go ahead and build a new Rockaway, but make sure you have a place for those who are not wealthy and those who have called this place home for the last 20 to 30 years." The District 27 rezoning plan has placed a spotlight on race in the Rockaway community, and it would appear that the housing situation could very well do the same. We certainly hope this does not happen. With all of the promise that lies ahead for the community as a whole, it would be most unfortunate to have even deeper divisions develop during the course of our unprecedented transformation.

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