Affordable housing advocates protest Willets Point plan

By Candace Taylor | October 06, 2008 11:37AM

Affordable housing advocates will protest the proposed Willets Point redevelopment plan today with a “tent city” outside City Hall.

Some 200 Queens residents will set up cardboard “tents” on the sidewalk starting at 11:30 a.m., according to the Association of Communities for Reform Now, or Acorn, a nonprofit group which organized the protest along with city council members and representatives from the non-profit group Queens for Affordable Housing Coalition.

The Depression-themed protest is intended to question the amount of affordable housing, said Acorn spokesman Evan Thies.

“The average Queens family does not make enough money to afford even the lower-end affordable housing in this plan,” Thies said. “That’s outrageous.”

Queens has lost the majority of its affordable housing units, he said, and in the future many families “won’t be able to afford any of the housing here.” He added: “What they’re left with is an untenable situation where they can’t find a place for their families to live in their own home town.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to redevelop the industrial Willets Point area of Corona into 5,500 apartments, a hotel, a convention center, and a school, as well as retail and office space is now before the City Council. A majority of council members have opposed the plan, objecting to the possible use of eminent domain to remove more than 200 small businesses from the area.

Acorn and Queens housing coalition members are calling for the city to withdraw the plan and make major changes. Andrew Brent, a spokesperson for Deputy Mayor of Economic Development Robert Lieber, said the plan will create more than 1,000 housing units affordable to moderate- and middle-income families.

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