‘East New York is not for sale’: Community Land Trust movement sees hope in Racial Justice Commission

Town’s Racial Justice Commission held its remaining public enter assembly for Brooklynites on the Brooklyn Museum Monday evening, however the affair rapidly grew to become a lesson in organizing power as speaker after speaker referred to as on the fee to suggest banning the controversial tax lien sale, and to prioritize neighborhood land trusts in the town’s dispensation of public land.
Because the fee — empaneled earlier this yr to establish areas of metropolis legislation perpetuating structural racism and advocate constitution revisions to appropriate them — inches nearer to proposing remaining constitution amendments for the November 2022 poll, members of the East New York Community Land Trust (ENY CLT) one-by-one approached the commissioners and gave variations of the identical speech, calling the switch of vacant public land to personal builders and the sale of distressed property tax debt to traders a outstanding instance of institutional racism being baked into the town’s legal guidelines.
“As it stands, long-term Black residents of East New York and Brownsville are being systematically displaced due to speculative investment by for-profit developers with no ties to the community, and most do not give back to our community in a meaningful way,” stated Izoria Fields, a lifelong East New Yorker and ENY CLT’s vice chairman, in testimony to the Commission. “We implore you to lead the way in adjusting the Charter to prioritize transferring public land to community land trusts and fight to revamp the tax lien sale process in a manner which helps protects us and our neighbors.”
The fee has been holding public enter classes for months [1] to listen to from New Yorkers on how racism inflects on a regular basis life, and particularly how metropolis legislation and establishments can propagate it. Final month, it launched a preliminary report [2] figuring out six broad areas of inequity encompassing the subjects introduced up by residents: entry to high quality public providers, distribution of assets throughout neighborhoods, skilled development and wealth-building, marginalization and over-criminalization, illustration in decision-making, and enforcement and accountability for authorities and different entities.
Commissioners have stated that they need the poll proposals to be as broad as potential to get rid of structural racism as a lot as might be achieved by revising the constitution. The fee is now holding a remaining set of hearings forward of releasing its proposals subsequent month, together with a potential preamble to the constitution to ascertain guiding values of anti-racism for the town to abide by.
Monday’s assembly was sparsely attended, besides for these with ENY CLT, who stated they organized to point out up as a unit to drive residence simply how constructive an impression they really feel the fee may have by placing their priorities on the poll.
“We believe East New York is not for sale. And we envision a healthy and sustaining community where our people come before profit,” stated ENY CLT secretary Deborah Ack. “Planning and development in East New York and Brownsville should be led by us for us, the longtime Black and brown residents of East New York and Brownsville.”
The group contends that each the general public land switch program and the tax lien sale put New Yorkers of coloration at a disproportionately excessive threat of displacement. Since 1996, the town has farmed out debt assortment on unpaid property taxes to the personal sector, promoting householders’ tax lien debt to a belief run by the Financial institution of New York Mellon to gather the debt, and might foreclose on properties that do not pay up. Relatedly, the switch program permits the town to switch publicly-owned tons to for-profit builders at little to no price, usually for $1.
These transfers imply the arrival of recent administration, which regularly can imply increased rents and subsequent displacement. Oftentimes, a distressed property proprietor will promote to repay the debt [3], however that also leaves their tenants vulnerable to eviction below new administration.
These packages disproportionately impression communities of coloration: a 2018 map by the nonprofit 596 Acres exhibits that $1 lot transfers are closely concentrated in Black and Latino areas [4] of the town, together with Central Brooklyn, Southeast Queens, the South Bronx, and Higher Manhattan.
“We realize what happened in Bed-Stuy, we know what happened in Bushwick,” stated the land belief’s president, Albert Scott, referencing gentrification in these neighborhoods. “It has been demonstrated by giving it to the for-profits, they have been pushing us out. Time and time again.”
The neighborhood land belief mannequin would have the general public tons be managed and maintained by a consortium of native residents growing the property as inexpensive properties moderately than a speculative asset, advocates say, arguing that that may permit the properties to stay completely inexpensive and forestall gentrification in low-income areas like East New York and Brownsville. For the tax lien sale, ENY CLT says the job of debt assortment needs to be returned to the general public sector.
The subsequent tax lien sale [5] is scheduled for Dec. 17, after having been delayed a number of instances through the pandemic.
A number of commissioners maintained that they have been impressed by the group’s organizing technique, and that they now have quite a bit to think about earlier than proposing remaining poll measures.
“I thought they were very effective at reinforcing the points of concern and what they see as doable solutions,” stated Jennifer Jones Austin, the fee’s chair, in an interview with Brooklyn Paper. “And they gave us something to work with.”

[1] https://www.brooklynpaper.com/brooklynites-testify-before-citys-racial-justice-commission/
[2] https://racialjustice.cityofnewyork.us/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/RJC_NYC4RC_PrelimRept_FIN.pdf
[3] https://www.nysfocus.com/2021/10/15/landlords-tenants-tax-lien-sale-evictions/
[4] https://ny.curbed.com/2018/3/13/17115052/new-york-city-owned-land-lots-interactive-map
[5] https://therealdeal.com/2021/09/14/for-real-this-time-city-schedules-tax-lien-sale/

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