Volume 16 • Issue 40 | March 5 - 11, 2004

Advocates tell L.M.D.C. to spend money on jobs and housing

By Elizabeth O’Brien

Community members rallied at the headquarters of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation on Feb. 27, urging the corporation to direct some of its remaining $1.2 billion towards jobs and affordable housing.

“Homeland security means a job and a home,” said Barbara Caporale, of Rebuild with a Spotlight on the Poor Coalition. That coalition is a member of the Labor Community Advocacy Network to Rebuild New York, the group that organized Friday’s event.

Members of the network also delivered their written comments on the L.M.D.C. Neighborhood Workshop Summary Reports, which outlines the results of seven community workshops the L.M.D.C. held last summer. The public comment period on the document began on Jan. 20 and ended on Feb. 29.

The workshops were held in neighborhoods from Tribeca to Chinatown to identify Downtowners’ priorities for the remaining $1.2 billion in L.M.D.C. funds. The corporation is currently evaluating uses for the remaining funds and is waiting for results of several ongoing studies, said Joanna Rose, an L.M.D.C. spokesperson. Other talked-about uses for the money include park space along the East and Hudson Rivers and to help pay for a Downtown train link to the Long Island Rail Road and J.F.K. Airport.

In their response to the workshop summary, community members reiterated their requests for jobs and real affordable housing. They also addressed the need to maintain the character of neighborhoods and to fight gentrification.

Steven Nunez, 22, a lifelong resident of the Lower East Side, said he has watched his neighborhood change over the years as it becomes more affluent.

“It’s very uncomfortable to walk around your old neighborhood and feel you don’t belong,” said Nunez, who works as a part-time organizer with the Rebuild Coalition.

Rose said that rebuilding construction will create an average of 8,000 full time jobs in New York City each year until the anticipated end of construction in 2015. Once it is built, the site itself will generate approximately 42,000 jobs, Rose said.

The L.M.D.C. has set aside $50 million to build 315 affordable apartments in Lower Manhattan over the next few years for people earning between $50,000 and $85,000 a year. Critics have charged that this is not enough and that the target income range is too high for many residents of Chinatown and the Lower East Side.

The L.M.D.C. is looking to build the affordable units at a lot known as Site 5B, bounded by Greenwich, Murray, Warren and West Sts. The project has not been formally presented yet and many nearby residents have voiced objections because the size of the building would likely cast shadows on Washington Market Park.



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