The changing communities of New York City are frequently shaped by broad economic and social trends, which in turn impact local residents and small businesses who often struggle to remain. Forces of gentrification are negatively impacting our city and our communities, often leading to the displacement of existing residents, who are unable to reap the benefits of these changes. Mom-and-pop shops close because they can’t afford increases in rent; the empty lot next door is suddenly developed into luxury housing; a school loses funding for an arts program; the supermarket that used to serve the community exits and a more expensive one enters. Communities must advocate for their own needs amidst changing environments. And we must do this together.
When East Harlem was announced as a neighborhood for a possible rezoning, with the goal of creating new affordable housing, we collectively sprang into action. The Office of City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Manhattan Community Board 11, Community Voices Heard and the Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer came together to host an informational forum at El Museo del Barrio, to inform the community about the rezoning proposal and kick o a robust neighborhood planning process. We recognized that through engagement and organization, utilizing a community-driven process, we could develop a plan for the neighborhood’s future that would place the needs of the community front and center.
The creation of the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan Steering Committee brought together and empowered local stakeholders to craft a plan that identifies broad community development goals and specific needs, all informed through rich community engagement. For the first time, a neighborhood has come together on its own initiative, prior to the Mayor’s announcement of a neighborhood rezoning, to create a roadmap for future success that prioritizes the needs of existing residents, in addition to preparing for anticipated development and growth.
This Neighborhood Plan is the culmination of months of engagement, research, analysis, organizing, and consensus-building. Through the hard work and thoughtfulness of community residents and Steering Committee members, in partnership with several organizations and City agencies, we have created a comprehensive vision for our community, which should direct City policy and resources for years to come. We believe these goals and recommendations will advance the needs of East Harlem residents, and better prepare our community for the growth and changes that continue to shape neighborhoods throughout New York City.
East Harlem Neighborhood Plan Project Partners:
Manhattan Community Board 11
Office of City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito
Community Voices Heard
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer
To download the full East Harlem Neighborhood Plan report, please click here.