Brooklyn residents display signs fighting gentrification over holidays

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BUSHWICK, Brooklyn – A community movement is fighting gentrification in a bright way through illumination signs.

Behind this movement is the financial pressure felt by so many families who are taking all cash offers for their homes.

"It's not affordable anymore," Pamela Riera, a Bushwick native said. "As it where it used to be when was when I was 10, 6 years old."

It's a term that defines the bittersweet evolution of the good old neighborhood. It's now part of the public's consciousness.

And for Riera, a disruptive chapter for her entire family.

"It's very sad because I was one of the few people evicted from her home because they're now turning it into a condo," Riera said.

Her story is a familiar one in Bushwick, where the neighborhood paint shop is now a hip coffee shop.

The neighborhood may be sprucing up, but Riera says its just "too expensive" for low-income families and believes they're being "forced out."

Patricia Rodriguez, a community organizer for "Illumination Against Gentrification," is working with other concerned residents who are planning for the second year in a row to hand out anti-gentrification signs just in time for the holidays – in gentrifying neighborhoods across the city, from the Bronx to Chinatown.

"Supposedly we have all these housing developments that are being developed right now and they're supposed to have a quota or a percentage in these buildings to affordable housing, but what is 'affordable?'," Rodriguez said. "It's not even affordable."

But how informative would be a story on gentrification be without hearing from a so-called gentrifier.

"I'm not taking away from them, I'm adding to it here," a man who recently moved to Bushwick said. "If we could find a way to gentrify the rent and make it not go higher, that's the ideal world then we would be more accepting in New York City."

There are no easy answers, but Rodriguez who works with folks like Riera says her work is far from finished.

Rodriguez is planning a session on Sunday and calling help from all boroughs to continue making these "Illumination Against Gentrification" signs.

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