Affordable Housing Plans Could Bulldoze 15 Community Gardens

January 16, 2015 | Rhett Jones

In a struggle between living and how we live, the de Blasio administration’s affordable housing plan has come into conflict with some community gardeners who could be displaced by new developments.

According to DNAinfo:

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development published a list this week of city-owned sites that housing developers can apply to build on, shocking those who tend to and enjoy the green spaces.

Developers were asked to submit proposals for nearly 180 sites — which could include rentals for families earning nearly $140,000 a year and paying $3,000 in rent — by Feb. 19.

Based on research by the non-profit 596 Acres, out of 1,000 HPD-owned vacant lots, about 74 have community gardens. In the current plans, up to 15 gardens (nine in Brooklyn, six in Manhattan) could be cleared. Most likely, there’s little that can be done about it:

Gardeners on city-owned land faced fierce opposition under the Giuliani administration. In 2002, the Bloomberg administration worked out a deal with then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer which later led to more protections. But many gardens still faced threats from developers.

The city requires gardens looking to operate on HPD sites to provide a letter to the community board affirming it understands that they could only use it temporarily and that it won’t hinder development plans, explained HPD spokesman Eric Bederman.

Unfortunately this is a problem in which there’s no clear hero. People need housing, but communities should be applauded for coming together to improve their surroundings. HPD spokesman Eric Bederman says, “While community gardens add a a great value to our city, our mission as an agency is to address the affordable housing crisis that affects tens of thousands of hardworking New York families.”

Whatever the outcome is, one way the city could improve the situation is by directly speaking to the affected gardening groups. Alison Iven, 29, is a founder of Patchen Community Square in Bed-Stuy. She says, “We’ve never been 100 percent protected, but it’s such a great space that I would really hate to see it be built up. The city hasn’t talked to us as a community garden yet, there’s not a lot of communication.”

(Photo: Wikipedia)