Candidates back affordable housing, but not in their back yard

All three Democrats in Bronx Senate race against projects

From left: John Perez, Christian Amato and Nathalia Fernandez in front of Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx (Getty Images, JacobiPeds.org, ChristianAmato.com, John Perez)
From left: John Perez, Christian Amato and Nathalia Fernandez in front of Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx (Getty Images, JacobiPeds.org, ChristianAmato.com, John Perez)

All three Democratic candidates running to represent the East Bronx in the state Senate support affordable housing — in theory. Not one will stand up for two projects in their community, though.

Assembly member Nathalia Fernandez, Christian Amato and John Perez have all come out against two projects proposed in the 34th Senate District, City Limits reported. The primary candidates are vying to replace Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, who is running for Congress.

One project is a 349-unit development proposed on vacant lots at 2945-65 Bruckner Boulevard, across the street from a supermarket. The development would include 94 rent-capped apartments for residents earning a certain percentage of the area median income.

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But some residents have referred to the project as a “monstrosity” and the Democratic primary candidates seem to agree, having all come out against it. The project would require a rezoning, in which senators have no say. The decision will fall to Council member Marjorie Velázquez, who opposes the developers’ initial filing but could negotiate for changes.

Another project facing opposition from the community and the three Democratic candidates is a supportive housing plan on the Jacobi Hospital campus. The Fortune Society-run residence would house formerly incarcerated residents with complex medical needs in an unused building on the campus.

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The residence would likely include 70 studio apartments, including 50 for formerly incarcerated New Yorkers.

Despite promises of 24/7 security for the residence, community members have spoken out against the idea of having (more) former criminals in their neighborhood.

The community boards representing the districts in question have a history of Nimbyism, even though many of their residents are rent-burdened. In Community District 10, more than 40 percent spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing; in Community District 11, nearly half do so.

Earlier this year, local backlash forced Mayor Eric Adams to cancel plans for a homeless shelter in Bronx Community District 11.

Wary of the optics of uniformly rejecting affordable housing, the candidates have expressed varying levels of support for other initiatives. Among those drawing support from at least one candidate, according to City Limits, are incentives for landlords to renovate and rent vacant units and legalizing accessory dwelling units.

— Holden Walter-Warner