More than 13 months ago East New York became the first area to be rezoned under Mayor de Blasio’s plan to increase density in a dozen or more neighborhoods to, in City Hall’s view, create more vibrant communities and increase the stock of affordable housing. As City Limits has reported, some argue that the rezoning is already a success, but there remain concerns about how successfully the rezoning will accomplish those goals without triggering displacement and gentrification.

One June 3, reporter Abigail Savitch-Lew and videographer Marc Bussanich sat on the sidelines of a conference held by the local Coalition for Community Advancement and invited local residents and advocates to talk about why they love the neighborhood, how it has changed and their hopes and fears for the future. Some expressed real worry and anger, others optimism, but most struck an inclusive theme: It isn’t that they want to turn back the newcomers to their neighborhood, but rather that they want to figure out a way for everyone who so desires to stay.


Danilee Flores, a Homeowner Help Desk outreach specialist for Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, speaks about the impact of the de Blasio administration”s East New York rezoning in 2016 and a recent rise in homeowner harassment. (If you’re a homeowner seeking housing counseling, call 718-647-8100 and ask for the Homeowner Help Desk.)

Ana Aguirre, executive director of United Community Centers-East New York discusses the Coalition’s successes and disappointments during last year’s rezoning negotiation. Juan

Savitch-Lew discusses the effects of the East New York rezoning with homeowner Juan Hidalo, who is considering whether in the future to stay or leave now that his property values are steadily rising. Bill

Bill Wilkins, East New York resident and economic development director at the Local Development Corporation of East New York, on the changes he has seen in the neighborhood over several years and his assessment of the de Blasio administration’s rezoning process. Farrah

Farrah Lafontant, a resident of East New York, talks about why she loves her community and about the impacts of the 2016 rezoning . Elizabeth

Elizabeth Guy, who left East New York years ago before moving back, discusses then versus now and the mix of hope and fear that exists regarding the rezoning and likely new development. Amalfi

East New York resident Amalfi Richard speaks about the impact of the rezoning (and broader development in East New York) on schoolchildren and their families and on what it’s like to be a homeowner in the changing neighborhood. Onelia

54-year resident Onelia Torres talks about what she feels has changed in East New York, especially the level of harassment homeowners endure. Darma

East New York resident, State District Leader and State Committeewoman Darma Diaz discusses the impact of the 2016 rezoning and what needs to be done to ensure East New York retains some of its original culture. Cheryl

A recent arrival in the neighborhood, Cheryl Ford describes her concerns about gentrification and, possibly, the 2016 rezoning on neighborhood rents. Donna

Forty-five-year East New York resident (and Linden Plaza Leaseholders Tenant Association Council member) Donna Stone talks about her concerns regarding the impact of the 2016 rezoning and about what city resources are available to help homeowners and tenants protect themselves from displacement. Albert

East New York resident Albert Scott discusses what he’s monitoring one year after the rezoning, and the importance of ensuring locals benefit from the neighborhood’s potential economic renaissance.