Gowanus Racial Impact Study Predicts Increased Diversity After Rezoning

The report outlines the potential impacts on the neighborhood's racial diversity and the availability of below-market housing units.

2 minute read

August 16, 2021, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Gowanus Canal

Felix Lipov / Shutterstock

A "first-of-its-kind study" on the potential racial impact of a proposed rezoning plan found that Gowanus could become more diverse if the rezoning is implemented, reports Rachel Holliday Smith. "The study also offers the first glimpse at the potential value of a Council bill passed just weeks ago requiring 'racial equity reports on housing and opportunity' for rezonings in the future."

"The 'Racial Equity Report,' produced by Columbia urban planning professor Lance Freeman, concluded that the rezoning would likely cause Gowanus, currently one of the whitest neighborhoods in the five boroughs, to 'much more closely match the diversity of New York City rather than the [current] population of the local area.'" According to the report, "under the zoning proposal, the neighborhood could gain as many as 2,950 housing units rented at below-market-rate prices through the city’s affordable housing lottery, out of a total 8,495 newly constructed apartments." The zoning change "follows years of protests over rezonings that looked very different from the one in majority-white and wealthy Gowanus — an outlier in the recent history of neighborhood land use proposals."

Although "[t]he Gowanus report has come late in the rezoning process, which has been in the works for years and has already begun the formal Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP, necessary to get a final green light," it "calls for more efforts to preserve and maintain Gowanus’ public housing complexes, lowering income levels on future affordable housing and investing more in workforce development services to make up for industrial and auto-related jobs the rezoning will likely displace."

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