Queens March Against Gentrification

Every morning as we ride the 7 train past Queensboro Plaza we see an atrocity taking place in Long Island City. On every block we see a new skyscraper under construction. In each new building, dozens of apartments sit vacant, waiting to be filled. We work every day, struggling to get by, while city planners and politicians conspire with developers — to decide our fate without the slightest bit of compassion or regard for our lives. We see this trend in so many neighborhoods across New York City.

Long-term residents, Black and Brown communities, grandmas, immigrants and Queer youth of color have all been on the front lines of the housing struggle for decades - fighting courageously against their landlords, the bureaucracy and neglect of NYCHA, and the violence of the police and immigration agencies. These battles are sometimes collective, but very often they are individual and never reported on by the media. We write this statement, not for the politicians, but for those who are fighting — we see you and we are with you.

We are at a crucial moment in the development of this city. Currently there are three proposals being considered that will forever transform the landscape of Western Queens, and send a ripple effect throughout the borough that will even be felt in Flushing, at the opposite end of the 7 train:

• The BQX will run a luxury streetcar along the waterfront of Astoria and Long Island City all the way to Sunset Park, Brooklyn. One purpose of the streetcar is explicitly to increase land value

• The development of Sunnyside Yards will essentially create a new neighborhood in Queens, consisting of 24,000 additional housing units, the vast majority of which will be completely unaffordable to current working class residents of Queens.

• The rezoning of Long Island City will open the doorway to even more luxury real estate development, the effects of which(higher property values & rents) will spread eastward.

Any of these proposals alone would result in massive displacement and gentrification Queens. Together, they represent nothing less than an all-out assault on our neighborhoods.

On November 18th, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer led a local march against Trump. He stated, “Queens is a diverse county that appreciates and loves all its neighbors, including the undocumented,” and Trump “cannot occupy our hearts and minds and our will to live in a country that aspires to freedom and fairness and equality for all.” If Jimmy Van Bramer truly cares about all of the diverse working class immigrant communities of Queens, he will stand in firm opposition to all luxury development projects that would displace those same communities, leaving thousands homeless.

The so-called “inclusionary zoning" and “affordable housing” proposals that the city has introduced actually displace more affordable housing than they create as a result of the overall increase in property value from luxury developments. We need real solutions if we want to stop displacement.

We can no longer accept band-aid proposals that ignore the root causes of gentrification and displacement in New York City. We demand that Jimmy Van Bramer oppose, unconditionally, the BQX, Sunnyside Yards development, and the new Long Island City Rezoning. Instead, we demand an immediate city-wide rent freeze and moratorium on upzonings until a legitimate solution is achieved. Additionally, we demand Van Bramer’s unconditional opposition to the privatization of NYCHA.

On Thursday, April 20th, 2017 at 6pm we will meet and rally at the 46th Street Public Plaza under the 7 train, across the street from Van Bramer’s office, and eventually march past his office and through the neighborhood.