Response to Van Bramer’s Non-Opposition & What We Mean By “Rent Freeze”

In a recent Sunnyside Post article published on March 21, Jimmy Van Bramer responded to our call for a protest against the LIC core rezoning, Sunnyside Yards development and BQX trolley.  We understand that all three of these development projects will result in massive displacement in western Queens.

Van Bramer says that he has “publicly expressed great concern and skepticism about all of the Mayor’s proposals.”  The working class of western Queens is not just concerned about out-of-character development – we are convinced that these development projects would raise property values and rents, and ultimately displace us from the area.

We know because we have eyes, and we have seen what has happened to every working class Black, Latino, Asian, & immigrant neighborhood over recent years as a result of harmful development projects and upzonings.  Williamsburg, Harlem, Chinatown, LES, Park Slope – the list goes on.  We know because we have read the insightful work of urban planning and geography experts Tom Angotti (Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at CUNY Hunter) and Sam Stein (PhD candidate in geography at the CUNY Graduate Center).  We know because many of us have already been displaced from Brooklyn and Manhattan, and we have seen this exact process play out before.

What we are asking for is a concrete understanding that we are in a crisis.  Working class communities in queens are under attack – rising rents are driving out our neighbors and local small businesses, and immigrant communities are undergoing nothing short of an ethnic cleansing.  This is a direct result of politicians, city planners and developers who play games with the real estate market to drive up land values and maximize tax revenue and profit.  Drastic measures are necessary.

Therefore, we are demanding unconditional opposition to upzonings and harmful development projects, and urging support for a city-wide moratorium on upzonings and a universal rent freeze.

Jimmy has a choice: He can side with the people and vocally oppose these outrageous developments, or by his meager “concern” be complicit with the very developers who are ready to destroy our neighborhoods for profit. The decision Jimmy makes will prove how he really lives out his “Queens values”.

What is a rent freeze?

Jimmy Van Bramer says he is in favor of a rent freeze.  We are not sure that he understands what we mean.  We are not calling for a rent freeze on rent regulated apartments, but rather a city-wide, universal rent freeze on all units in the city.  Until we achieve a legitimate, long term solution, we demand that we be allowed the dignity to remain in our homes and neighborhoods regardless of what the so-called free market says.