The New Face of “East Williamsburg”– Plus Tom Robbins Talks Bushwick on WNYC


Overhead last weekend: Two women, who graduated college this May, discussing “East Wiliamsburg”

Woman 1: So, do you have a job now?
Woman 2: I got a job, working at an investment bank.
Woman 1: Oh, where do you live? Manhattan?
Woman 2: No. I live in Williamsburg.
Woman 1: Oh, How do you like it?
Woman 2: Well, it’s OK. I live in the part of Williamsburg that’s called East Williamsburg, so it’s not really like downtown Williamsburg, which is really built up.
Woman 1: Do you like it there? What’s it like?
Woman 2: I don’t know. It’s really not that, um, nice.
Woman 1: So, what are going to do?
Woman 2: I don’t know. I just, like, really want to live in Manhattan.

On the flipside of that coin, Tom Robbins appeared on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC this morning to discuss his June 26th cover article, The Second Battle of Bushwick, which details how landlords are breaking the law to toss out longtime tenants of Bushwick to make way for the new residents who believe they are inhabiting “East Williamsburg.”

“It was almost like as if someone had just sent out an alert to the speculating communities that said ‘Bushwick is hot. Let’s get these properties,'” Robbins said. “And it’s really created a crisis.”

As noted in the article, Robbins said that if the city would do a better job enforcing housing code violations and the rent stabilization laws, it would go a long to protecting vulnerable tenants, most of whom wind up in Housing Court without representation, or take a pittance to move out, having suffered months and months of no heat and substandard conditions.

“To his credit, Mayor Bloomberg has focused attention on the need for affordable housing in the city, but he’s mainly focused on creating new housing,” Robbins told Brian Lehrer. “This other piece of holding on to existing rent stabilized housing stock, this is where the greatest, really, affordable housing resource is in the city and I don’t think this one has really made it the mayor’s attention.”