The New Struggle is to Stay

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The next place Christopher and I ventured to during our Los Sures tour was the Bushwick Housing Projects. Christopher and I strolled through the affordable housing complex to re-walk the paths he used to take as a kid visiting his great-grandmother. For some, the notion of living in housing projects may be seen as undesirable. But for Christopher, he was able to see the beauty in such an improvised environment. Though he himself didn't live in the Bushwhick Housing Projects, his great-grandmother, who was very crucial in his childhood did, so these building are an extension of his identity. 

".. a lot of PuertoRicans in the neighborhood moved to Pennsylvania. Because it was cheap and you can get a house. PuertoRicans believed in the American Dream...get a house. Have a house and support your family."

The problem with living in Los Sures is that many Puerto Ricans can't obtain the American Dream of comfortable living anymore. Holding on to their homes is the new struggle. Many natives of this community, those who've shaped and framed the Hispanic Culture of Los Sures have been displaced. I asked Christopher during our Interview if he feared his own displacement and he didn't hesitate to respond that he did, and constantly. Though Christopher and his family has been living in Apartment 2 of 434 South 5 for more than three generations, he like many of the Puerto Ricans in his neighborhood has to worry of how long he has in his home. 

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"I know I’m fairly safe..living in affordable housing as I am. But even that is precarious. You got DeBlasio changing the rules..."

Christopher revealed that he and his sister actually lives in their family's apartment on a fixed rent due to the Los Sures Management Company. The Los Sures Management Company is a community-based, non-profit organization that has served as an integral part in rebuilding the South Side of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1972. The organization started humble with only a few volunteers and board members but with a mission that impacted the entire community. The Los Sures Management has helped keep thousands of families in South Williamsburg, families who made the community what it is today. Christopher, though thankful for his affordable housing through the Los Sures Management Company revealed that consequently he was in danger in losing his apartment to the company as well. 

"..they didn’t think I should have it because you know I dont have a family or whatever. They wanted to give a smaller place. And I was like this has been my home for 29 years...you know. I’m not going to give it up."

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Christopher doesn't want to give up his home...and he shouldn't have to. Yet because of the drastic economic influx of wealth in Williamsburg, Christopher fears that he too may be displaced soon. This is the reality for many of the natives of Los Sures. They either have to face displacement and perhaps move to Pennsylvania where other Puertoricans have gone to chase the American Dream of comfortable living, or work themselves intensely to prove that they are in financial need. 

"Every year, I have to certify that I’m poor. I go through a mountain of paperwork in order for recertification to stay here."

When most people think of gentrification they view it as a theory, a distant theme of neighborhood change. Though in an academic setting, the conversation of gentrification is fascinating and interesting, for those who fear being displaced from a community they so strongly identify with, this is an uncomfortable reality. The people of Los Sures has been faced with countless oppressions, from a lack of sustainable resources to poor housing conditionings. These people didn't just succumb to the oppressive environment of their community, they instead worked together to protect themselves and take agency to embrace the Hispanic culture which many of them derive from. Christopher shouldn't have to fear displacement. No native of any community should. 

The New Struggle is to Stay