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.