El Barrio, better known as East Harlem and the South Bronx, is one of the most culturally rich districts in New York.
Together with Roosevelt Island, the Upper West and East Sides, these neighborhoods comprise State Senate District 29, a diverse community where residents are fighting to preserve the traditions that they’ve built that are interwoven into the city’s tapestry. Encompassing largely Hispanic, Afrolatinx, Asian and Middle Eastern residents, this neighborhood never hesitates to celebrate the multicultural vibrancy that makes it one of the best places to live. But gentrification and lack of affordable housing, poverty and the rising fares for public transportation create obstacles for the everyday citizens who call this place home. What are the biggest issues facing State Senate District 29?
Issue #1: Affordable Housing
El Barrio is one of the last neighborhoods holding out against rezoning and gentrification of their neighborhood, which will displace longtime residents who have made this community great by infusing their own various traditions into its everyday life. Condominiums are taking over, making rents unaffordable all over the city, leaving residents with few options as to where to move, and is upsetting especially when they've invested so much into their neighborhood. This exacerbates problems for lower-income residents; many are already living in overcrowded apartments just to be able to make rent. Residents plea for more affordable housing and not just temporary shelters; housing is a right and everyone should have equal chances despite the circumstances they were born into.
Issue #2: Poverty
Gentrification is connected to the city’s poverty problem: with lack of affordable housing also comes a lack of funds to access regular services like public transportation. Fares are rising as wages are stagnant, severely limiting job opportunities for those who can’t afford to commute. For those that take on local jobs but face the threat of displacement, what will become of their economic opportunities? In addition, local senior citizens with limited incomes need housing considerations when they can’t afford market rate housing. The district is in need of a city that works for all.
Issue #3: Transportation
One of Roosevelt Island’s biggest attractions is its tram that floats passengers from Manhattan to the tract of land amid the East River. The island is home to 360-degree waterfront views, historical landmarks and ruins, and a tight-knit community of residents, schools and small businesses. But transportation could also be what holds the island back, as commuters are forced to pay ferry fees in addition to costs from the tram or subway. Locals yearn for the integration of the Roosevelt Island ferry into the MTA system, so free transfers can be taken advantage of and save needed money, plus it will address and alleviate the congested trains plaguing long-suffering travelers.
Will State Senate District 29’s representative take these problems head on? Learn more about State Senate Democrat/Working Families Party candidate Jose M. Serrano and get informed about 2018’s New York State elections at racetorepresent.com.