"We Never Had A Choice"

In 2015, the owner of CABS Nursing Home -- a 157-unit facility on the corner of DeKalb Avenue and Kosciuszko Street in Bed-Stuy -- sold the property to a developer who drafted plans for a seven-story condo. 

This past summer, WNYC investigated the sale of CABS as well as the conversion of a Lower East Side nursing home into a luxury housing complex. The sales reflect true Monty Burns-level scheming: residents were hastily discharged or moved to other locations without a discharge plan. Families were not notified. At least one person died. 

From the story:

At CABS nursing home in Brookyn's Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood, some family members said they were rushed into leaving before a closure plan was approved by the state in February. Rafaela Rodriguez's husband died shortly after leaving the facility. She said an investigation into her husband's discharge is a good thing. Rodriguez was the head of the nursing home's family council and said several family members with loved ones at CABS called her to complain about having to leave the facility.

CABS is pretty eery now. The four-story nursing home still stands, but the lobby is dark. As though frozen in time, signs, posters and a trophy remain as artifacts. Light construction materials lay scattered in a patch of topsoil in front of the building. 

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A handwritten message above the door reads "WE NEVER HAD A CHOICE."

cabs nursing home

Gentrifier Deniers

We know we're insufferable.

We know our behaviors alienate and displace long-time community residents.

We know we're trying to simulate authenticity in a sanitized faux-bohemia. Thus, we know we are pawns of wealthy developers.

We know we are strangers in a strange land acting like we own it. 

I think that's why we are so reluctant to acknowledge our role in destructive gentrification. Or why we compete at the "Who's Lived Here Longer" Game and the "Here's How the Neighborhood Has Changed Since I Moved Here" Trivia Contest. We're proving we have some roots. And We've seen some things.

I can comfortably consider myself one dripdripdroplet in a gentrification flood that drowns neighborhoods. I'm only one droplet! You know, if I evaporated, there'd be a thousand other white, upwardly mobile young droplets with parents who could cosign for this apartment very eager to leak in here.

It feels so good to deny personal responsibility like that.

But really, people like me and the other droplets need to acknowledge our erosive behaviors and fight to sandbag the existing community -- to protect low-income residents from displacement. We can't just blame the market or systems right now. We have to stand up for affordable housing development, new mixed-income buildings, low-interest loans to local home-owners, legal assistance to those facing eviction, government-backed housing vouchers, incentives for landlords who accept housing vouchers and prosecution of the nefarious slumlords who coerce lower-income tenants out.

Let the droplets collect in a reflecting pool so we can look at own behaviors.