The plan for the future of Jerome Avenue represents tremendous transformative potential not just for the surrounding neighborhoods, but for the entire Bronx.
Whatever we do, we must ensure that this rezoning works for everyone, especially the tenants who currently call these neighborhoods home.
The commitments my office has negotiated with the administration will help do just that.
At my public hearing on the Jerome Avenue rezoning in November, I listened to so many local residents who shared their concerns about this rezoning proposal leading to displacement. In their testimony, they underscored to me just how important it is that this rezoning work for low income and vulnerable tenants.
That advocacy fueled my negotiations with the city, and the commitments we negotiated have set the standard for tenant protections going forward.
First and foremost, the City has committed to creating new apartments within the rezoning for the lowest income levels, and has agreed to set aside half of all apartments for current community residents.
In addition, the city has agreed to the creation of a Certificate of No Harassment pilot program within the rezoning area to protect tenants from being harassed; the creation of a Southwest Bronx task force that will help identify and protect buildings of concern and keep more units affordable; a guarantee that the City will preserve 1,500 units of affordable housing over a two-year period in Bronx Community Boards #4 and #5, keeping thousands of residents in affordable homes over the long-term; reopening the southern portion of Aqueduct Park and additional protections for the auto industry, among other commitments.
The people of The Bronx are not opposed to improvements. We want to see our communities flourish. But we also want to be able to enjoy the benefits created by ongoing development. The residents who testified at my hearing asked for greater affordability, more significant tenant protections and assurances that this rezoning would work for everyone, including them. I got this administration to agree to protect our current residents.
As this process moves forward, I urge Council Members Vanessa Gibson and Fernando Cabrera to continue to take the administration to task in order to negotiate the best possible agreement for both the people in the neighborhoods surrounding the Jerome Avenue corridor as well as the entire Bronx.
These commitments from the City are excellent steps towards those goals, and I am proud to have negotiated for them on behalf of the Jerome Avenue community.
Ruben Diaz, Jr., is the Bronx borough president.