This page will include and be updated with frequently asked questions by Task Force members and the general public throughout the process.
Task Force Process and Public Engagement
When was this Task Force formed, who chairs it, and what was the process for selecting members?
In October 2020, Council Member Mathieu Eugene and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the creation of the community-led Task Force and development of the site for affordable housing with a space for youth educational and vocational programming. The Task Force is chaired by Borough President Eric Adams and Council Member Eugene, with both co-chairs having staff dedicated to this effort. This Task Force will produce specific recommendations that inform aspects of the future project, on- and/or off-site memorialization, and proper treatment of human remains, if discovered in the future. The first Task Force meeting was held on December 8, 2020. Task Force members represent a diversity of sectors from the area including community development, schools, business improvement districts, and cultural organizations.
Is the membership of the Task Force finalized? Can additional members join the Task Force in the future?
Task Force membership was determined in coordination with Borough President Eric Adams and Council Member Eugene. Task Force members are ambassadors to their local constituencies and are encouraged to share feedback based on their work with local stakeholders. Members of the public are welcome to participate by attending any or all of the three community workshops and participating through a community questionnaire, as well as attending online livestreaming of Task Force meetings for which corresponding meeting notes and materials will subsequently be made available.
What role does the larger public play in this project, and when will they be engaged?
Beginning in the spring, the City will begin public engagement in collaboration with the Task Force to host three community workshops online and issue a community questionnaire. The larger public will provide insight and input to the Task Force’s process and recommendations through the workshops and questionnaires. Once a project is selected through the Request for Proposals (RFP), the public approvals process (ULURP) for the disposition of City-owned land will provide additional opportunities for engagement with the selected development team and the City.
How is the City ensuring that a diversity of community members, including those who lack access to digital technologies, are able to participate in the engagement process?
In addition to the online engagement materials, the facilitation team is working closely with the Task Force to co-design non-digital methods of engagement and to strategize on how best to reach community members who may not be able to engage online. The primary method for non-digital feedback will be the community questionnaire, which will be available in paper form. We will work closely with community members on the Task Force to share widely and make it accessible in central neighborhood locations. Additionally, Task Force members will engage with their networks and stakeholders outside of Task Force meetings in order to collect community insight.
History and Archaeological Findings
Who are the specific ancestors being discussed for memorialization?
The focus of the memorialization for this project is to honor enslaved and free people of African ancestry buried adjacent to and on a portion of the site. Evidence of the burial site was discovered through archaeological investigations, including an excavation completed in the early 2000s and primary and secondary documentary research. Slavery existed in Flatbush from its founding in the 1600s and continued well into the 1800s.
Can you share more details as to where the previous human remains discovered were reinterred and if these persons were memorialized somewhere else?
The limited number of human remains that were found in 2001 were reburied at the Flatbush Reformed Church cemetery located nearby the site. Artifacts related to PS 90 (1878–1960) that were found during Historical Perspectives, Inc.’s (HPI)’s investigations are curated by the NYC Archaeological Repository: The Nan A. Rothschild Research Center.
What is a descendant community, and what does that research process entail?
For any project involving burial grounds, a good faith effort must be made to identify biological descendants (direct kin) of the ancestors interred; this may include advertising in genealogical websites or other local engagement. When this research is inconclusive, the existing community becomes the most viable option to take on this role. This often takes the form of a group of self-identified community members with a vested interest in continuing research and serving as the voice of those interred. Together, the descendant community will establish a preferred course of action for the handling, examination, and reinterment of human remains should they be found and establish goals for future memorialization while raising awareness of the history of enslaved and free Africans of early Flatbush. The FABGRR Task Force as a group are currently representing the Descendant Community, however, should additional descendants be identified in the future (either through research or self-identification), they too should be consulted.
Can the broader community inform the descendant community research if they are not Task Force members?
Yes, community involvement is greatly encouraged and needed to help piece together the site’s history and more fully document the previously enslaved population of Flatbush. The project team is seeking public insight on this ongoing research effort. If you have information to share, please fill out this form. In addition, Task Force members have volunteered to support HPI to identify additional research and help form a descendant community. Task Force members have also indicated interest in getting local community members more involved in this research, such as local youth from schools and the local churches in the community that could have key information.
What happens to the archaeological research conducted once the project is complete?
Information regarding the archaeological work completed onsite in the early 2000s is available for download on the project website at https://fabgtaskforce.nyc/site-history, as well as on the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) website. The results of any future archaeological investigations will also be made available on LPC’s website. If significant archaeological collections are found that are not related to the burial ground, they would likely be curated by the NYC Archaeological Repository. The Task Force will make recommendations about the sensitive handling of any human remains and associated artifacts, should they be found in the future.
Future Affordable Housing Project
Is the project set on affordable housing and a youth-focused space?
Use of this site for affordable housing and a youth-focused space responds to Community Board 14’s Statements of Community District Needs, which calls on the City to complete an RFP process for the site, prioritizing a community amenity. There is also a great need to develop affordable housing in this area where very few sites for new affordable housing can be developed and 58 percent of households in the Community District are rent-burdened.
What do you mean by affordable housing? Who will this project be affordable to?
When HPD refers to a project being affordable, it means that the project will be financed with City funding and the units will be income restricted, where tenants pay approximately 1/3 of their income on rent and are protected from sharp rent increases. For this project, we are still evaluating how to ensure the future project will address the needs of this community, including what types of households and incomes will be served by the new housing. This in part will be determined based on feedback provided by the Task Force and the larger public, and what the best development program is to make this project financially feasible.
Will the housing be permanently affordable?
As with all of HPD’s recent RFPs, we will encourage respondents to include proposals for long-term or permanent affordability. Also, in the past few years, HPD has also required that affordability be maintained through a mechanism called remainder interest, a legal tool that enables the City to retain ownership of the land at the end of an initial regulatory period (usually 30 years), unless the developer refinances and extends affordability.
Does this affordable housing project involve a ULURP process?
Yes, Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) approval is required for the transfer of land from the City to a private entity. Once the project design is finalized and the required environmental studies are completed, the designated development team and HPD will lead the project through the ULURP process. This process includes additional community engagement opportunities with local elected officials and the community board.
With regard to the RFQ and RFP, are these open processes and/or were developers already targeted?
The Affordable Housing Request for Qualifications (RFQ), released on January 6, 2021, is open to all and any applicants who meet basic criteria—developers were not targeted to develop affordable housing on the site. The purpose of the RFQ is to develop a shortlist of mission-driven teams with experience working on projects that are similarly sensitive in nature. The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will invite the selected RFQ teams to submit proposals for the Affordable Housing RFP and the development team will be determined through a competitive review.
How will the recommendations be incorporated into the final RFP released by HPD?
The City will summarize the priorities and goals articulated through the Task Force recommendations and public feedback into a public report, which will be included as part of the RFP. The City will incorporate these goals and priorities into the evaluation criteria of the RFP, which reviewers evaluating the submissions will rely upon to select a development team and proposal. Reviewers will favorably evaluate development teams whose proposals thoughtfully respond to such community priorities and goals.
Will Task Force members play a role in the developer selection process?
HPD works diligently throughout the RFP process to avoid potential conflicts of interest and disqualifications of teams due to potential conflicts of interest. Therefore, the agency limits the review of proposals to staff from City agencies and looks to act as a steward of community priorities in the review of such proposals. It’s another reason why community engagement is incorporated early on: to ensure community priorities are included throughout a project’s development. The City team highly values the voice and ideas of community members, including the Task Force, and is therefore conducting extensive community engagement to gather input. Such input will inform the development of the RFP before it is written and issued.
To what extent will this project support Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE)?
Through the M/WBE Building Opportunity Initiative, HPD seeks to address demonstrated disparities in M/WBE participation in affordable housing development, strengthen the affordable housing development industry, and further its mission of providing safe and affordable housing to all New Yorkers. Under HPD’s new Equitable Ownership Requirement, the City will require that an M/WBE or non-profit partner holds a minimum 25 percent ownership stake in any affordable housing project awarded on public land. Additionally, HPD’s M/WBE Build Up Program requires developers/borrowers to spend at least a quarter of HPD/HDC-supported costs on certified M/WBEs over the course of design and construction.
Will local jobs be available for Brooklyn residents?
Yes. Proposals must include a hiring plan that details methods for outreach to potential employees within a three-mile radius of the site. HPD will also support the selected development team in connecting Brooklyn residents to good jobs in the building trades through the HireNYC program and requiring that available openings be posted with NYC Workforce Centers. Brooklyn residents can find Workforce1 Centers at the Brooklyn Workforce1 Career Center (9 Bond Street, 5th Floor), Brooklyn Workforce1 Industrial & Transportation Career Center (Brooklyn Army Terminal 140 58th Street, Building "B" Lobby), the East New York Workforce1 Career Center (2617 Atlantic Avenue), or the NYS Department of Labor MetroTech Workforce1 Career Center (250 Schermerhorn Street). Please note that at this time, Workforce1 Centers physical locations may not be open to the public, but services can be accessed through their online portal.
How can I learn about other resources HPD has available or get help with my current living situation, and how can I apply to affordable housing?
For housing resources in New York City, visit the Housing Resource Center at nyc.gov/housing. HPD-financed homes are made available through a lottery process. Please note that the building will not finish construction for several years. In the meantime, you can visit NYC Housing Connect for more information about current affordable housing lotteries that are open to the public. For information and help on how to apply, contact a nearby housing ambassador, such as CAMBA Homebase at 2244 Church Avenue, 4th Floor, Brooklyn (tel. 718.622.7323. Ask for HomeBase Outreach Team), the Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn CDC, Inc. at 2806 Church Avenue, Brooklyn (tel. 718.622.7323) or the Flatbush Development Corporation at 1616 Newkirk Avenue, Brooklyn (tel. 718.859.3800 (ask for Venisse Charles)). All three organizations have representatives on the Task Force.
Please contact the project team through the form below with any questions.