Mason is the pastor at Our Lady of Presentation and Our Lady of Loreto parishes in Ocean Hill and Brownsville. The clergy leader said new people are always coming into Brooklyn, which is welcomed, but not if it changes “the face of the neighborhood.”
“Change the neighborhood, don’t change the faces in the neighborhood,” he said. “Don’t push us out, join us in living here.”
Most of the people in his congregation fall into three groups: homeowners, renters and public housing residents. All three are suffering from the effects of gentrification and disinvestment.
Public housing residents have long complained about their living conditions, such as mold, lead paint, lack of repairs and poor security.
“That’s rampant all over NYCHA,” Mason said.
Homeowners, meanwhile, have been upset about rising property taxes. Many senior citizens who live in homes fear they won’t be able to keep their houses.
Lastly, renters who live in private buildings are not only fearful of rising rents, but by unscrupulous landlords who “take aggressive action to move out people” from their apartments.
“The primary fight we’ve been undertaking in the housing crisis is trying to provide more real affordable housing for New Yorkers,” Mason said. “Real affordability is the key.”
Mason is among the supporters of a plan to build 15,000 new affordable units for seniors on vacant public housing lots. The hope is for seniors who live in NYCHA to move to those units, freeing public housing apartments for others in need.
“Not everyone is coming out of a NYCHA apartment into these senior houses, but the vast majority will,” he said. “We’re getting double the bang for the effort here.”