CityViews: Done Right, Inwood Rezoning Could Be Good For Working Families

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Adi Talwar

Corner of 204 Street and Seaman Avenue (Upland Core, Inwood).

Inwood has been my home since I first arrived 15 years ago in New York City as a new immigrant from the Dominican Republic. This neighborhood is where I have raised my kids, gotten a good job and created the life I dreamed of living when I first arrived.

When I found out that the City is planning a rezoning for the neighborhood I wondered what that would mean for me and my family and also for all of my neighbors, many of whom are hard-working immigrants just trying to provide a bright future for our kids.

What I’ve come to realize is that there are many opportunities here for us if this rezoning is done in the right way and the new buildings in our neighborhood provide the affordable housing and good jobs that we need.

Inwood has long been a welcoming neighborhood to families like mine. But the truth is we need more affordable housing. I live with my wife, son, two daughters and 2-month-old grandson. I have a good job as a porter in the Fort Tryon Apartments. I’m a member of 32BJ and, thanks to my union contract, I have good pay, family health care, a pension and other benefits.

I’d like to move to a bigger apartment but right now our small apartment is all we can afford. There’s not much affordable housing in the neighborhood. That’s why I think any new construction should include housing for working families like mine.

I know what a difference it makes to have a good union job but even with a good job, it’s still a struggle to pay the rent and it keeps going up every year! I see many of my neighbors struggling to get by working multiple minimum-wage jobs just trying to make ends meet.

I feel lucky that I can just work one job and support my family. I work hard every day and I’m proud to have a union and the good pay and respect I deserve. When residents ask me to help them deal with issues in the building, I feel proud that I can help them have a clean and welcoming home.

The new developments in our neighborhood should provide more good jobs like mine, so that my neighbors have the chance to work a good family-sustaining job. That’s what everyone wants.

It’s important to have affordable housing and good jobs in every new development in Inwood. We really need both to make our community stronger.

The City Council has a real opportunity here to hold developers to a higher standard for development that will benefit local residents and strengthen our neighborhood by providing the housing and jobs we really need.

If it’s done right, my neighbors and I will get more opportunities for the work and homes we need and the opportunities for our children will be even brighter.

This is how we can build up our community and create a future that we can all be proud of–because we can only make progress if we work together.

David Muñoz is an Inwood resident and a member of 32BJ.

4 thoughts on “CityViews: Done Right, Inwood Rezoning Could Be Good For Working Families

  1. Sure, but the devil is in the details as to what “done right” means. It’s not just slapping maxed out apartment buildings down and making up various affordability and job requirements. There has to be an element of planning as well.

    Seaman Ave and 204, for example, is a great example of an extremely uniform streetwall and quite high density — higher than what you would find on the side streets of the UWS or Greenwich Village. If copied and pasted onto the former industrial areas, a new neighborhood similar to Seaman Ave would be a great place to live and provide thousands of new apartments.

    But the city isn’t proposing that, they are proposing a doubling of density and tripling of size, which introduces all sorts of problems for affordability (due to all the market units), infrastructure (due to the massive population increase) and quality of life (from shadows to overtaxed and in some cases nonexistent community assets).

    The plan needs fixing to remove the aggressive politics and restore high-quality planning.

  2. To this man and his family, my heart reaches out to you. It is precisely because of families like yours that we should not vote for the EDC’s plan for affordable housing. Whenever the city plans on building 80% market rate apts in a neighborhood with working class poor folks ( under $62K/yr) what you get is a couple of crumbs in exchange for a major displacement of Latino families. My brother, read and educate yourself on what happened in other parts of the city the where rezoned. I promise you, you will change your tune. Peace

    • The truth is that in NYC land and labor are very expensive. I don’t see how you’ll get affordable units without market units to subsidize them. The money has to come from somewhere and it better not come from NYC taxpayers. And what happens if after a while it becomes too expensive to subsidize the affordable units causing the market rate tenants to flee. But I wonder if market rate tenants will want to live in a building with affordable apartments? Only time will tell………..

  3. I am a live long Inwood resident and I have seen many changes thoroughout the years. I am against the rezoning, take a look at Williamsburgh, Brooklyn, you cannot even recognize that area any longer. Look at LIC, it looks like a concrete jungle. The rent there for a one bedroom is $3,500!!! I love my neighborhood and I do not want to see these high risers coming here. What about our infrastructure, it will not be able to handle 14,000 more people coming here. Yes, we do need affordable housing, but you know these promises are false. It will drive out the everyday person because you will not be able to live here anymore! Most of the buildings here are privately owned, the city will offer the landlords a tremedous amount of money and they will buy you out.

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