Chanting activists last month in front of One57, the second tallest residential tower in New York City, demanded the end of the city’s controversial tax break program, urging to “subsidize our house, not the penthouse.” Officially known as the 421-a Tax Incentive, this program, which is set to expire in June, unfairly benefits the rich instead of creating affordable housing. The New York Times reported on Feb. 1 that One57’s penthouse was sold for a record-setting $100.5 million and will receive a 95 percent cut in this year’s property tax bill. City records reveal that in 2013, approximately 150,000 apartments received 421-a tax exemptions, resulting in $1.06 billion in forgiven taxes. However, according to the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, only 8.5 percent of those units were designated for low- and moderate-income tenants.

So far, local communities have been affected most directly by misguided city policies that promote gentrification. A study conducted by the Citizens Housing Planning Council revealed that between 2000 and 2010, numerous neighborhoods in New York City witnessed a decline in economic and ethnic diversity. Specifically, regions where black, upper-middle-income class families formed the majority experienced a significant population decrease of 19 percent.

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