Committee Will Convene Upcoming Projects and Issues in East Harlem

CITY HALL– In her continuous commitment to collaboration, inclusiveness and transparency in government, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, elected officials and East Harlem community based organizations (CBO) today announced the formation of the East Harlem Neighborhood Study Steering Committee. With increased development interest in East Harlem, this diverse nineteen member committee will lead a robust community conversation on the future of the neighborhood, including open public forums and focus groups with neighborhood stakeholders. The Steering Committee will ensure that as the City considers a proposed East Harlem rezoning that a broader and more comprehensive set of community needs is at the forefront of discussions.

“I am proud to support the formation of the East Harlem Neighborhood Study Steering committee, which will work to engage community stakeholders and local residents in a robust conversation about the future of our community,” said Speaker Mark-Viverito. “The Steering Committee will conduct a broad and comprehensive analysis of the needs of the El Barrio/East Harlem community, from housing and employment opportunities to schools and open space. The Committee will work diligently to integrate the voices of community members as we develop a common community development vision. I look forward to working with each member of the Committee and with the broader community in the months to come.”

Local elected officials, Community Board 11 and CBO’s with deep roots and history in East Harlem, as well as affordable local housing developers and community leaders, will meet over the next six months to discuss a range of community development issues, including schools, workforce development, parks and open space, small businesses and health. Taking the conversation beyond zoning and affordable housing development, the Steering Committee is also charged with looking at preservation strategies for existing affordable housing, including NYCHA developments.

“The village of Harlem is a special place for a number of people and it embodies the vibrant culture of our history and ancestors. Every part of Harlem from East to West, you will find various interests seeped with culture, history, and inspiration. Being part of the East Harlem Steering Committee allows the City Council and the City of New York to truly understand the work that must be done to preserve this special place while improving the quality of life for East Harlem residents,” said Council Member Inez E. Dickens, District 9-Harlem. “With the Mayor’s aggressive plan for affordable housing throughout the city, it is evident that zonings and affordable housing opportunities will be part of the East Harlem Steering Committee conversation, but it is our job to be transparent in how we are going to protect the indigenous population and heed this call for affordability.”

“The history of New York City is one of constant change – but that change needs to benefit and complement existing communities,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Only by having an inclusive discussion that addresses the full range of neighborhood issues like housing preservation, infrastructure, schools, and jobs, can we move forward responsibly with the big changes that are planned for East Harlem.”

“We look forward to working closely with Speaker Mark-Viverito and the East Harlem Neighborhood Steering Committee as they facilitate community conversations on the needs of East Harlem residents and businesses,” said City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod. “City Planning along with our sister city agencies will help over coming months to advance a holistic vision for a healthy, affordable and thriving East Harlem community.”

“Community Board 11 has been working for years to address the needs of East Harlem and neighborhood planning gives us the opportunity to pave the right future for our community,” said Matthew Washington, Chair, Community Board 11. “We are excited to get this process started and look forward to working with all stakeholders on this effort.”

“The health of our community – where we live, work, play, learn, and age – has a direct impact on our personal health,” said Jo Ivey Boufford- President, The New York Academy of Medicine. I am very pleased that the rezoning efforts in East Harlem will be done with a comprehensive and collaborative approach and The New York Academy of Medicine is excited to participate in this important work.”

Members of the East Harlem Neighborhood Steering Committee are:

1. Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito
2. Council Member Inez Dickens
3. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
4. Community Board 11
5. El Barrio’s Operation Fightback
6. Lott Community Development Corporation
7. Artimus Construction
8. Community Voices Heard
10. Union Settlement – David Nocenti
11. Harlem RBI
12. Business Development Center – Union Settlement
13. Rev. Patricia Singletary, Elmendorf Reformed Church
14. New York Academy of Medicine
15. El Museo Del Barrio
16. Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation
18. Johnson Houses Tenant Association – Ethel Velez
19. New York Restoration Project

“Community Voices Heard is eager to help set a precedent for what community engagement in neighborhood planning can look like,” said Executive Director, Sondra Youdelman, Executive Director, Community Voices Heard. “Residents of East Harlem need to have real input and real decision-making power. Any new development must focus on addressing critical community needs. Some of the key community priorities include: the need to preserve and improve the NYCHA and affordable housing stock, the need to combat tenant harassment and displacement, the need to build more deeply affordable housing units that match income levels in the community, and the need to ensure local hiring and good union jobs.”

“El Barrio is a diverse and growing community with a rich history that is home to so many hardworking families,” said Gustavo Rosado, Executive Director, El Barrio’s Operation Fightback. “Operation Fightback has worked in El Barrio for over 30 years to renovate, manage and develop affordable housing and to provide quality workforce development programming to the community. We are committed to advocating for the preservation of low- and moderate-income housing as well as employment opportunities for the residents of El Barrio. We look forward to engaging in this discussion about the future of the community, and we thank the Speaker for convening this broad-based Steering Committee.”

Next month, the Steering Committee will kick off the public process with a community forum where all local residents will be invited to present their thoughts on the needs of the neighborhood. There will also be ample opportunities to submit written comments online and via mail. More information on upcoming meetings and opportunities to provide feedback will soon be available on the Council’s website.

In the summer and fall, Steering Committee members will convene focus group conversations with a broad range of local stakeholders, city agencies and subject matter experts to develop recommendations on a range of issues. These recommendations will be presented back to the entire community for feedback at least two additional public forums. Final recommendations will inform discussions about the City’s rezoning proposal and will help create a vision for the future of the community.