Brooklyn Boro

Supporting private development will bring good-paying jobs back to the community

May 12, 2021 By Gary Jones

I was raised in Brooklyn, working and living in this community for the majority of my life, and I have never seen my community in as much pain as the coronavirus pandemic has caused. Many of our neighbors have lost their jobs, and many are worried about how they will afford their rent. All too often, we see low-income families left behind, but we can avoid this by advocating for projects that generate good-paying jobs and affordable housing in our communities. 

As we recover from this pandemic, we must ensure that every household has access to a living wage and affordable housing. We have an opportunity in front of us to welcome more of both to our community with the new development proposal at 840 Atlantic Avenue. 

The proposed rezoning at 840 Atlantic Avenue would not only ensure that our workers have a sustainable living and much-needed affordable and market-rate housing but also incorporate what is all too often missing for lower-income areas, community programming like the proposed arts partnership with Creative Outlet.

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Because this is a project proposed through a private developer, Vanderbilt Atlantic Holdings, it would not require capital from the city government or the community, all while generating quality building service jobs. The permanent prevailing wage jobs at 840 Atlantic Avenue will have a real impact by providing family-sustaining wages and other important benefits. These are the types of jobs that our neighbors deserve. 

The proposed development would also bring almost 100 units of affordable housing to a community that has seen rapid growth, not only benefiting our neighbors who have been hit the hardest by this pandemic but also turning our community into one that can welcome all.

I have been a member of 32BJ for thirteen years now, and I’ve seen what stable, good-paying jobs can do for families – it can be life-changing. I’ve unfortunately also seen what can happen to communities that automatically reject community-focused, well-thought-out developments because they want to keep their neighborhood just for them. New developments such as this one are critical for the growth and development of our communities. 

Perhaps most importantly, new developments such as this one ensure that working people do not go back to a post-covid normal that did not work for them in the first place. As our city continues to recover, we are still seeing some of the highest rates of unemployment among the Black and Brown communities of our city. Essential workers like myself, our families, and our communities need responsible developers like Vanderbilt Atlantic Holdings to create good jobs for our neighborhoods, so we can rebuild a New York City that puts workers first and grows fairly. 

840 Atlantic isn’t simply a project that would replace a drive-through and parking, it is an opportunity to lift up our neighbors, helping us move one step closer to a recovery that works for and even benefits the working people. 

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We have to open the door to our neighbors, welcome them in and create opportunities for them to comfortably support their families. 840 Atlantic is a step in the right direction, and I ask our community and our local leaders to support this project so a few more New Yorkers can feel a little more stability. 

Gary Jones

Born in North Carolina, Gary Jones is a porter and a 13-year member of 32BJ SEIU. Jones moved to Brooklyn with his family at the young age of three, and is proud to have called it home ever since.


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