More than a dozen housing activists and local residents organized a sleep-in in front of the Rheingold redevelopment site Thursday night in protest of the alleged lack of communication and an apparent absence of commitment to affordable housing on part of the developers of the site.
The sleep-in followed a town hall meeting organized by a community watchdog group, the Rheingold Construction Committee, which was created to monitor developments at the site and to ensure that developers stayed true to their promise of affordable housing and enrichment of the local community.
Over 200 people attended the town hall meeting, which took place at the Cathedral of Joy on George Street, and which was then followed by a march that took off from the Church and made its way to the construction site where attendees continued to protest around the intersection of Bushwick Avenue and Monteith Street.
The community action has received considerable support from community organizations like Churches United for Fair Housing (CUFFH) and Councilmember Antonio Reynoso. Representatives for both were present at Thursday night’s meeting.
“We can no longer accept a situation in which developers are allowed to maneuver their way out of affordable housing agreements and still develop their properties,” said Reynoso. “As members of the Rheingold Construction Committee, my office will continue working with the community to achieve a conclusion in which the entirety of the original agreement is executed.”
The latest controversy around the site arose when real estate firm, the Rabsky Group purchased part of the land at the Rheingold site from the Read Group, which continues to own part of the site, and has lived up to commitment of affordable housing so far.
Members of the Rheingold Construction Committee tried to get several meeting with Simon Dushinsky, the owner of the Rabsky Group, and tried to speak with representatives, but they were turned away from the offices. In interviews with the press, Dushinsky has maintained that the promise of affordable housing will be met, but hasn’t quite stated how much.
And residents and activists are concerned that this does not even include commitments towards local jobs, building a school, and environmental remediation of a site.
Upon the conclusion of the town hall and rally, over a dozen people laid out sleeping bags along Bushwick Avenue and slept on the sidewalk as a sign of protest.
The Rabsky Group did not return calls for comment.