Only now that the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX) streetcar is baked as a proposal and backed by the mayor does the real estate front group Friends of the BQX invite public housing residents to speak on the project. This is meant to give cover to the very real displacement threats for communities along the project corridor.
Sunset Park is an industrial waterfront community that does not have public housing, but we stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in NYCHA from Red Hook Houses to Queensbridge. We know that for too long they have endured obscene levels of neglect on every level. Despite the fact that NYCHA residents do not face the same threat of residential displacement as we do – there are still other threats. You only need to read the stories of public housing residents in Chelsea. They have not been displaced; but they have seen their surrounding community replaced by a neighborhood they are now alienated from. Neighbors are displaced, networks are shredded, affordable businesses vanish, policing is increased, and public housing residents are reduced to feared second-class citizens on their own streets.
More than ever, we will call out those cases in which the interests of privilege pit vulnerable communities against one another. And we will reject the call for more community input when community concerns bear no consequence on a project’s core features. With a proposal as prescribed and defined as BQX, asking for community to weigh in – no matter how many times or in how many languages – is like pouring time and labor into a black hole.
As we close out a year of both significant achievement and hardship, we test our focus on the struggles that will matter more than ever in 2017: driving a Just Transition away from fossil fuels, keeping people in their homes, and building the community power base that will resist heavy-handed neoliberal agendas both nationally and locally.
We wish you strength, unity, and courage as we enter this new year,