AFFORDABLE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT & MANAGMENT | ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
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Since the May 2005 Greenpoint-Williamsburg waterfront rezoning, NBDC has noted a precipitous increase in illegal landlord harassment cases among our clients. With neighborhood rents and property values steadily rising, the incentive for unscrupulous landlords to evict their longtime (and low-rent) tenants has also increased. NBDC’s intake log-sheets have reflected this intensification of displacement pressures. NBDC believes that the most effective means of preventing residential displacement is through providing educational outreach and one-on-one housing counseling services. In North Brooklyn in particular, where the vast majority of our clients have limited or no command over the English language, such counseling services must be provided by qualified individuals who speak the native language of the majority of our constituents. Inability to communicate, unfamiliarity with local, state and federal laws pertaining to housing, and immigration status combine to render immigrant tenants especially vulnerable landlord harassment and illegal eviction. For this reason, NBDC has cultivated its profile as an organization that advocates on behalf of neighborhood tenants, engaging with both the local and ethnic press and conducting multi-lingual workshops at community centers, senior centers, and religious institutions throughout CD #1.
Moreover, as the lead organization of the Greenpoint-Williamsburg Tenant Services “Collaborative” Against Displacement—a coalition of seven community organizations funded by New York City as part of the waterfront rezoning agreement—NBDC has been at the forefront of tenant service provision in CD #1 since the rezoning. Within the past year, NBDC has provided education, advice and assistance to some 400 neighborhood tenants at risk of residential displacement. NBDC has also conducted 8 tenant aid and renters’ rights workshops, each with at least 25 tenants in attendance. Each workshop was conducted in both English and Polish, reflecting the need for bi-lingual outreach and education in housing matters in the neighborhood. Finally, tenant advocates at NBDC have assisted eight tenants facing eviction proceedings in obtaining legal support from Brooklyn Legal Services, through direct referrals, language interpretation, and help in housing court.