Read Sherryann’s full closing statement below:
Good afternoon, my name is Sherryann Bain and I’m a tenant leader in the Flatbush Tenant Coalition, a resident of Assembly District 43 and Senate District 20, a parent, and a human being. I’m here to give a closing statement on behalf of the Flatbush Tenant Coalition and I will take it on myself to say, for the community as a whole. To address you, our elected officials, who are given the opportunity, by us, to work for us and to better our lives.
You’ve heard people say that the way the system is right now — the housing laws, funding for schools, policing, everything else – it’s making it difficult for families to stay together and for parents to parent their kids the right way. It affects not just home life but school life. You can’t be there for your children to help them with their homework if you have to work two jobs to keep a roof over their head. If you’re worried as a parent about keeping your apartment, you can’t be there for your children to help them grow up. And our children see this, and they worry too. These are basic human needs that we all have a right to.
A lot of people talked about the importance of education and providing after school and other programs for our youths. And after all the after school and other programs, our children still need a safe home to go home to, not a shelter. If children are provided with positive things then they don’t have to get into trouble, they can grow up to realize their full potential and reach their dreams.
People also speak about seniors being pushed out of our community. They were the ones who built our communities for us to be here. We don’t see enough fight for our seniors who fought for all of this to keep living in our communities. They are the very people who fought for so long to make our neighborhoods decent – to have decent housing, decent schools, decent stores. These are just basic human needs. You have them in your life. Others might not have as much money, but respect their right to live a decent life. So they don’t have to store their life in a storage unit, and pay $________ on top of their rent just to keep their belongings.
The elephant in the room is gentrification. My son, Jace – he’s nine years old. He was doing a paper for school about segregation and the civil rights movement. He talked about how under segregation, black people couldn’t go to nice restaurants, go to nice schools. And he told me that he sees the same thing now – long-term tenants suffer with no repairs in our apartments. For years we don’t have access to decent schools, to quality programs for our children. And when we can’t afford our apartments, or we can’t take the harassment and are forced to leave, we have to move somewhere where the quality of life is lower.
I ask you to think about what it means to economically uplift a community. The people that built the community should be entitled to the same housing, the same jobs the same education, as the people moving into the community.
We are being pushed out of the neighborhood. And as we are being pushed out, we now see money being poured in to uplift the neighborhood, but for someone else. We need you to fight for us – to uplift the neighborhood for US, and to make sure we are still here to see our beautiful, uplifted community.
We expect you to do your job – to work for us. We vote you in, and you know we can vote you out. We elect you to do a job. We expect that job to be done. Your electorate just let you know what is most important to them, what is in your job description.
We expect you to do your job. We will hold you responsible for every upliftment and every downfall in our community, and for every person in our community.