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Some Williamsburg, Greenpoint Residents Say City Has Failed To Provide Affordable Housing Units

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Dozens of people in Brooklyn say Mayor Bloomberg broke a promise made almost a decade ago to build affordable housing, and as a result, some say that thousands have been forced to move out of the Greenpoint and Williamsburg areas. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.

About 50 people gathered at a rally Wednesday to call out the mayor, saying that his administration did not build enough affordable housing here.

Organizers admitted that the number of demonstrators has diminished over the years, but they said that goes right to their point.

"Me and my husband had to move to Bushwick six years ago because we could not afford to own in Williamsburg," said Deneise Jennings-Houston, who now lives in Bushwick.

Eight years ago, under a zoning agreement that allowed for new construction, the Bloomberg administration agreed to have 3,500 affordable housing units built in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. City numbers show that so far, less than one-quarter of them have been built.

"We were at least promised this small fraction, and they are not even delivering on that promise," Jennings-Houston said.

Jennings-Houston is worried that her mother, who still lives in Williamsburg, will be priced out.

Council members say high-priced high rises erected have led to ejections of longtime residents.

"When I get called by senior citizens on a weekly basis saying that they're being evicted because the landlord wants to increase the rent by $500, $700, $1,000, the policies that we have in place have not been working," said City Councilman Stephen Levin of Brooklyn.

"When we talk about what is the outcome of all this delay on behalf of the city of New York, we're talking about massive cleansing of a community that once existed here," said City Councilwoman Diana Reyna, whose district covers portions of Brooklyn and Queens.

The Bloomberg administration countered that it's committed to financing affordable housing, pointing to its plans.

"A total of 922 affordable apartments are complete or in construction, with more than 760 units in predevelopment as part of our work under the 2005 rezoning," a spokesperson for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development said in a statement.

If all of those affordable housing units are completed, affordable housing advocates say that would get the Bloomberg administration to almost half of its commitment.

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