Volume 17, Number 43 | March 18 - 24, 2005

Downtown Express photo by Michael White

Housing rally in Battery Park City

A few hundred housing advocates rallied in Battery Park City Tuesday, calling for fulfilling the promise of using the neighborhood’s surplus revenue to build affordable housing in the city. The protest, organized by the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development, Inc., was a symbolic “move-in” to the neighborhood and some protestors wore bathrobes over their clothes.

“They said to bring props, so I’m game,” said Margaret Chin who wore a green bathrobe and shower cap to the protest at Rector Pl. near West St. Chin, an executive with Asian Americans for Equality and a Financial District resident, said Lower Manhattan would benefit from more low and moderate income housing and the B.P.C. money should be built there and all over the city.

“You want to keep working families down here to build more of a neighborhood so it’s not just for Wall St.,” Chin said.
Originally one third of the apartments in Battery Park City were supposed to be below market-rate, but in 1986 the state Legislature agreed to use the neighborhood’s surplus revenue for affordable housing anywhere in the city on the theory that more apartments could be built on land less pricey than the waterfront property in B.P.C. The agreement was later amended to allow the city to use the money for budgetary shortfalls.

Protestors estimate that only 15 percent of the $1 billion fund has been used for affordable housing. Bloomberg administration officials argue they are in the middle of a plan to preserve or build 65,000 affordable apartments and are spending more than is in the B.P.C. fund.

Councilmember Margarita Lopez, who joined Councilmember Alan Gerson at the protest, said she can no longer believe city promises to build elsewhere and thinks affordable apartments should be built on the remaining vacant sites in Battery Park City first.

“Absolutely, they should be built here,” she told Downtown Express. On using the money for housing, she said: “It’s beyond a promise. It’s a memorandum of agreement that was signed.”

—Josh Rogers

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