Housing Justice on the Lower East Side

JFREJ History 1990–2015

From 2007–2012, JFREJ has been working in solidarity with GOLES (the Good Old Lower East Side) and SPARC (the Seward Park Area Renewal Coalition) towards a vision of a Lower East Side (LES) which offers an affordable home to immigrants, low-income folks and communities of color. On the LES in 1967, urban renewal policies displaced 7,000 low-income and working class families and immigrants when tenements and small businesses were demolished. The Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) had been left a parking lot for decades. The LES has been reshaped by gentrification and government subsidized condos, and threatened by NY-wide weakening tenant protections. JFREJ entered a community debate emerging from classist and racist opposition to any affordable housing on the site. In February 2011, the Community Board moved a bit further away from that historic divide. Their compromise moved forward a political stand-still, although more work remained to be done to include former site tenants, low-income and immigrant communities and communities of color. JFREJ organized Jewish community members who support justice and a livable, diverse Lower East Side, and who called for a place for site-tenants to return home and affordable communities. We reached out to hundreds of Grand Street Coop residents and Jewish community members, and engaged participation in community visioning and decision making processes.

JFREJ addresses the housing crisis in NYC and the massive displacement of people. We use outreach, direct action, political education, and arts and cultural work to mobilize our members and raise up this issue to the powers that be. Through our participation in citywide coalitions as well as local organizing, we stop the loss of hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units from rent-regulated to market-prices, and require that new development projects do not pass without the creation of more affordable housing.

JFREJ is a member of theRight To The City alliance (RTTC), an unprecedented coalition led by grassroots organizatoins, low income, and people of color with radical analysis convening in the fight against gentrification and displacement. Members include FIERCE, CAAAV, FUREE, GOLES, Picture the Homeless and the Urban Justice Center.