(Brooklyn, NY):____ Council Member Mathieu Eugene, a longtime advocate for providing truly affordable housing and positive opportunities for young people in the community, announced his support for the creation of a memorial at the site of the former African Burial Ground, located at the corner of Church Avenue and Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn.
“Today, I want to share my decision on the proposed affordable housing development, vocational training center, and memorial that I have been working on with The New York City Economic Development Corporation and The Mayor’s Office. This section of land has been neglected for several years, and I am always in search of new opportunities to respond to the needs of the community. In this case, the vision was the creation of truly affordable housing, a vocational training center for youth, and a memorial to honor our ancestors, and that is why I have dedicated so many years and so much energy towards its implementation.
We all know that affordable housing continues to be a significant issue in New York City and I have always felt that all New Yorkers, regardless of income level, deserve access to quality housing that is safe and affordable. As the former Chair of the Committee on Youth Services, and as a parent, a former teacher, and a youth advocate, I understand the need to create job opportunities and positive environments for young people to thrive in. We need our students to learn, grow as individuals, and make positive contributions to the workforce while supporting the local economy. I also want to decrease delinquency rates among our students and give them the tools and motivation they need to pursue rewarding careers.
The memorial has always been a central component of this project, because we have the moral obligation to pay tribute to our ancestors and acknowledge the challenges they faced as they built this country. As a member of the immigrant community, I have spent my lifetime learning about the experiences and struggles of those who paved the way for us, and I understand the need to have their stories preserved for future generations.
In fact, this project is comprised of three very important elements: truly affordable housing, a job training center, and a memorial to our ancestors, all of which I feel are essential for the community to embrace. From the beginning of this conversation, I have believed it will take all of us working together to determine the best use of this land, and that is the reason why I advised the creation of the community taskforce, in order for us to achieve a consensus.
I support the decision of the taskforce to only build a memorial on the designated land. I believe the community deserves a project that will respect and honor the memory and legacy of our ancestors while fulfilling the needs of the community.
I have already allocated $4 million to this project from my Fiscal Year 2022 Capital Budget, and I support the idea that we can come together to make a beautiful memorial to our ancestors, one that reminds us of the sacrifices they made to get us to where we are today.
I want to commend and thank the members of the taskforce and The Department of Housing and Preservation Development for the significant time and energy they have put towards this initiative while listening to community feedback.
In closing, I support the construction of a memorial and will do everything in my power to ensure that this project is a success for the community.”