Starrett City, Brooklyn Event
Prepared Remarks for Secretary Alphonso Jackson
February 16, 2007
I'm pleased to be joined by Congressman Anthony Weiner, and I especially appreciate my friend, Representative Ed Towns, who invited me to come up to New York and view your community first hand. I'm very glad I did. I'm also happy to be here with your State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. You can be sure the Attorney General knows a thing or two about housing. I also appreciate Senator Chuck Schumer's interest in Starrett City.
This transaction threatens New York City's low-income housing market and those who most who need it.
The Starrett City sale would quickly displace most, if not all, of the 14,000 residents here. Those who leave will have nowhere to go, because of the shortage in affordable housing. So if the residents of Starrett City are displaced because they are priced out, then we confront a human tragedy...the destruction of one of the safest, most friendly communities in New York City.
The greatness of New York City is that it is a multicultural, multi-ethnic, economically diverse community. This is a place for both rich and poor, black and white, and the old and the young. This is a city that opens its heart and its opportunities to everyone.
And the Statue of Liberty doesn't have engraved on it the words "well-off," "high-income," or "six-figure." It welcomes the low-income persons...those who are working hard and want to share in the American Dream. And the low-income persons are welcomed and served by affordable housing, like the apartments at Starrett City.
We must think of the people who live here. Starrett City is about the residents. The people of Starrett City live here, shop here, pray here, and stay here because they want a safe, secure, and close community. Their children go to school here. This is a place to grow close together and grow old together. A community like this has no price.
Starrett City has been a good example of how local, state and federal partners can work together to help provide housing alternatives. When the concept of affordable housing was first debated in Albany and Washington decades ago, this development is what those legislators had in mind.
They wanted low-income families to find a place in the city, to remain part of the city, to feel a sense of community, and to grow with the community. Those legislators wanted to make this housing market inclusive and humane.
They were mindful of the fact that many of our low-income citizens were Black, Puerto Rican or from elsewhere in the Caribbean, or Central and South America.
My presence here is not about politics and party. As you see before you, there is bipartisan concern about this sale. Starrett City is more than a piece of land...it is a community.
Here there are 5,800 low-and-moderate-income dwellings in 46 buildings. Many residents have lived here for half a lifetime, and some more. This is where they shop, their children go to school, and where they live. These are not small matters - we are talking about a way of life.
In 1968, President Johnson signed into law the bill that created my department. He nominated Robert Weaver as Secretary, the first Black American to serve in the cabinet.
Then, almost forty years ago, this country made a commitment to places like Starrett City. That is a commitment that has been honored for the entire 30-year existence of Starrett City. I, for one, will not pull back on that commitment now.
As Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, I will aggressively review this sale and give it close scrutiny. Together, we must protect one of the most affordable communities in New York City.