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The are programs in place now that give developers an incentive to include 20 percent affordable units in exchange for greater height limits. The problem is that these units are generally not affordable to the population that's getting displaced — they are based on the average income for the entire metropolitan area. Also there's very little monitoring to make sure those units remain affordable — so I'm not sure that really is working to preserve neighborhood diversity and stability.
Given your own experiences, what would your advice be to newcomers to neighborhoods that are traditionally more working-class? Would you advise them against moving into the area? Do you think there are specific ways to avoid creating an unintentionally negative impact?
As Craig Wilder says in the film,"Gentrification isn't about people moving into a neighborhood, and other people moving out of a neighborhood. It's about corporations." Everybody needs housing, and people are going to go where they can find housing they can afford in neighborhoods they like. It's inevitable and part of what has given New York City its character over generations is the influx of new people. So I'm not against individuals moving into Brooklyn. What the film emphasizes is the extent to which city policies like zoning and developer subsidies have increased real estate speculation and spurred development that has had a negative impact on the communities least able to defend themselves. So the end result of government action has been, in the case of Downtown Brooklyn, massive profit for private developers (some of whom came up with the plan in the first place), the displacement of more than 100 small businesses, and the complete obliteration of a deep-rooted successful black commercial and cultural space.