The President’s Corner by Emilio Dorcely

Emilio Dorcely, President & CEO

Emilio Dorcely, President & CEO

“We are taking one step forward & two steps back as gentrification in some neighborhoods…
leads to the removal of vitally needed lower-cost rental housing.”
 (Nicolas Retsinas, senior lecturer in Real Estate at Harvard Business School)

The real estate boom in central Brooklyn, and many other communities throughout the city, continues unabated. The median price for Bed-Stuy homes jumped from $575,000 in 2013 to $890,000 in 2015, according to StreetEasy, with brownstones regularly selling well above $1,000,000. Meanwhile, the median asking rent in Brooklyn increased by a whopping 63% from 2012 to 2014, more than double the increase in the rest of NYC.

The most common inquiry we receive on a daily basis here at Bridge Street is, “Where can I find an apartment I can actually afford?”—our most popular posts on Facebook always have to do with the subject of affordable housing and, when we conducted a housing lottery for a newly renovated building on Willoughby Street, more than 30,000 people applied for just eight available apartments.

Gentrification and the displacement of longstanding residents is a complex, systemic problem that cannot be addressed only at the neighborhood or city-wide level—it is a web of race, cultural differences, economic injustice, and profit-motive that needs to be dealt with on a regional and national level, as well. Moreover, any solution will have to be a long-term vision for the future, not an attempt to undo changes that have occurred over the past several years but a systemic plan to prevent them from happening again 10, 20 or 30 years down the road.

There is no easy solution to the issues that come with rapid development and tens of millions of dollars of investment, but something must change soon in order to keep NYC affordable for all New Yorkers. The mayor’s affordable housing plan is one part of the solution, but it will not solve the problem without increased investment and major policy changes on the state and federal level.