Sunday, September 11, 2016

Signs of the times: as rents rise and hot new restaurants abound, the "meal gap" grows in Brooklyn

On the heels of this telling Onion piece, Apartment Broker Recommends Brooklyn Residents Spend No More Than 150% Of Income On Rent, Times columnist Ginia Bellafante reminds us of Brooklyn’s Food Gap, which is more piquantly headlined, in print on the jump page, as "Brooklyn's Food Gap Widens As Its Foodie Reputation Soars."

Bellafante contrasts the hype about hot new restaurants with "a new report from the Food Bank for New York City, which reveals it not only to be the borough with the highest rate of what is known as “food insecurity” — 20 percent — but also the highest percentage increase in the rate of food insecurity from 2009 to 2014 — a time imagined to be one of economic recovery."

The "meal gap," which counts the annual number of meals that a household can't afford has grown especially in certain neighborhoods--or at least community districts--that are sites of gentrification, which suggests those who are hanging on spend more money on shelter: (Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens/Flatbush.

Bellafante ends with a sly dig:
The Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger maintains vibrant urban farming spaces. One plot on the corner of Fulton Street and Saratoga Avenue grows kale, chard and other vegetables for the pantry, and herbs that the pantry sells to local restaurants — wealth redistribution of a kind. What the land doesn’t contain, though, is housing. All around it are blocks of relatively new, low-rise residential buildings that, though they are for low-income families, do little to maximize the number of homes that might be built.
Fresh produce is a wonderful thing that in the end can only take us so far.
Indeed, Brooklyn, and New York, suffer from decisions made years ago to downzone, not to upzone, and to build what seemed to make sense at the time: lower-density housing in neighborhoods with the transportation--if not the demand at the time--to support more density.

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