On Sunday March 25th, Congressman Adriano Espaillat invited YU students and faculty to the second leg of his Washington Heights public walking tour, where he stopped at four neighborhood sites to advocate for a renovated 181st street subway station and affordable housing for Washington Heights residents.
Continuing his committed partnership to the Manhattan area he represents, which includes all of YU’s Wilf campus, Congressman Espaillat tried to form personal relationships with both the YU and Washington Heights communities through the walk. The walk is just another example of the congressman’s growing and consistent alliance with YU and his effort to partner with YU in order to improve the Washington Heights community, as shown by his talks with YU students and his leadership on YU- related matters like renovating the 181st subway station. “Yeshiva University is an epicenter of education in the Jewish community, both in the United States and around the world,” Espaillat said in an interview with the Commentator. “I look forward to working with President Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman to further Yeshiva University’s mission as an educational institution and a strong partner in our diverse upper Manhattan community.”
The walking tour started with the congressman stopped at three potential locations where he would like to fit affordable, fixed rent housing units. Congressman Espaillat explained that both Inwood and Washington Heights are subject to preferential rent increases, which could force Washington Heights residents out of their apartments as soon as their lease ends due to sharp rental hikes. When new market rate apartment units are added to the Washington Heights area, the overall rents will likely rise, which then spurs landlords to raise the rents for current tenants. The raised rents could be an unbearable expense for some residents, which include YU students and alumni currently residing in Washington Heights. Fortunately, Espaillat says “a combination of privately owned locations, non-for-profits, and city and state owned locations want to develop affordable housing locations.” The congressman has located fourteen sites in Washington Heights that could be used for rent controlled, affordable housing and is pushing the city to open 5,000 units of affordable housing in the Washington Heights and Inwood communities.
The walking tour concluded at the 181st street subway station, which was the subject of the letter to the governor that President Ari Berman co-signed with Congressman Espaillat. “The subway station is not as accessible the way it should be in difficult conditions. We want to see [this subway station] opened up, and a nice transportation hub opened up for local residents and people from the Bronx.” The congressman especially condemned the elevators as cramped and inadequate exits from the station.
Director of YU’s Government affairs, Jon Greenfield, added “as President Berman points out in his letter [to the governor], millions of commuters pass through 181st street every year. These are YU faculty, students, and staff, as well as countless local families who face the kinds of delays and breakdowns that lengthen an already unbearable commute. We’re proud to stand with Congressman Espaillat in calling for improvements to this vital transportation hub, and ensuring the Washington Heights community has the transportation network it deserves.”
Congressman Espaillat has proved himself to be a committed partner with YU in the mission to improve the 181st street subway station and improve the Washington Heights community in general.