Today’s news:

They’re on the road — for afforable housing

Community Newspaper Group

Three gutsy gals will spend two months riding their Giant Defy bikes from Providence, Rhode Island, to San Francisco to bring attention to what they say is the need for additional affordable housing apartments in Brooklyn’s low-income neighborhoods.

Wait, what?

Biking may seem like an odd way to plead for cheap apartments but Park Slope resident Kristie Gerhart, who will make the trek with 30 cyclists, including fellow Sloper Kelly Kraft and Ditmas Park resident Angela Parrotta, says it makes perfect sense.

While many activists take their protests directly to politicians and government agencies, Gerhart believes the unconventional biking trip may bring more media attention to Brooklyn’s affordable housing crisis.

“It’s not like we’re in a cardboard box outside of City Hall,” she said. “It’s more lighthearted than just telling people that we need housing.”

The trip, from June 11 to Aug. 21, is arranged by Bike & Build, a nonprofit organization raising funds to support the construction of affordable housing. The organization has offered grants to housing groups run by young adults and donated money to Habitat for Humanity, which builds homes for families in need.

Gerhart, a graphic designer, can afford market rents — she and her boyfriend pay $1,800 for a one-bedroom apartment — but she’s interested in helping the less fortunate.

Gearing up for her second Bike & Build ride, she must raise $4,000 for the cause. Last year, her entire team of 32 people collected $150,000.

Fulfilling the “build” portion of the journey, cyclists will make pit stops in states like Kansas and Colorado to help Habitat for Humanity build homes.

They’ll be rewarded for their hard work — with a roof over their heads. In each town, church groups and community centers will provide meals and lodging.

“It’s amazing. Everybody is really great and pretty generous,” Gerhart said.

Can these Brooklynites really be so happy about riding 4,115 miles from June to August? Are there any drawbacks?

“I am most nervous about spending two months in Spandex and that I’ll walk funny after 70 plus miles on a bike every day,” Kraft worried.

Parrotta said the pain is a fair trade-off for being able to help Bike & Build create homes for needy families.

“A summer without biking and building is no summer at all,” she said.

Donate to Bike & Build at www.bikeandbuild.org.

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Reader Feedback

Richie Rich from parkslope says:
Nonsense and stupid cause. Why not raise money for cancer?
Affordable housing belongs in the Bronx.
March 25, 2010, 11:44 am
Francesca Basta from Park Slope says:
Richie Rich—Awesome name by the way. Seriously.

Raising money and awareness for affordable housing in the U.S. is a stupid cause? Putting a house over someones head is a stupid cause?

You are stupid and maybe you belong in the Bronx!
March 25, 2010, 12:46 pm
jskipburns from New Hampshire says:
this is an awesome article. anything that highlights this issue on both the local and national level is important.

Rock on ladies

skip
March 25, 2010, 4:25 pm
Sarah from Harlem/Paris currently says:
This article rocks!!!! If someone is kick ass enough to dedicate their entire summer to sweat and tears with no rewards but to put roofs over people's homes they are heroes in my book!!!!!
March 25, 2010, 5:48 pm
richie rich from parkslope says:
when you have affordable housing in a particular nice neighborhood it brings in the crime,drugs,hookers and garbage. for example, 4th & 5th Ave parkslope use to be a dangerous area now its been gentrified with beautiful luxery condos. I can walk down 4 & 5 ave without fear of being a attack by a crack head.
Lets be realistic, if you can't afford the living standard in the city, you should move to the burbs.
March 26, 2010, 1:54 pm
jim bob from carroll gardens says:
I agree with richie rich. "affordable" is relative anyway. I can't afford to live on central park west, or even manhattan, but I don't complain. If that were so important to me I would have pursued a career in finance or something. I'm just a middle-class worker so I could use all the help I can get too, meaning the LESS "affordable" housing that surrounds me the more my apartment that I own is worth.
March 27, 2010, 2:45 am
Aright from allover says:
Jim bob, and Richie rich, your completely missing the point, maybe look up bike and builds website and do some research before you dog it. Your comments represent poor class and whats wrong with America today. Sounds like maybe its you that could use the BB experience. Were not talking about housing crackheads here, were talking about housing families who need a roof over their head. Step it up in life and stop worrying about yourself.
To the ladies riding.....Ride on and godspeed!!
March 27, 2010, 12:39 pm
Michael from Yonkers says:
WOW! Best of luck ladies on your journey and your quest. God speed all the way. :-)
March 27, 2010, 6:55 pm
Chad from Park Slope says:
I don't what you imagine there is to research - I know for a fact that there are many cheap apartments all over the city for poor families. This city is swimming with low rent neighborhoods where a family even living on public benefits can get a roof over there head. The city will even subsidize a family's apartment if they really are that broke.
But I get it, biking around will certainly help peóple. nothing helps the poor like a bunch of chubby women getting sweaty and acting complainy.
March 29, 2010, 10:16 am
Angela Parrotta from Flatbush says:
Chad, Jim Bob, & Richie Rich,

Stop being so selfish...This isn't just about you and where you live! Affordable housing is a global crisis and Bike & Build supports those efforts across the U.S. Each of our 8 trips consists of 32 young adults who fundraise at least $4,000 prior to the summer, as well as dedicate sweat equity hours to an affordable housing organization in their area. Over the course of the summer the trips stop for Build Days about once a week where we trade our bikes for hammers and team with organizations that build these homes. Additionally, we give community presentations at host locations to encourage local communities to discuss affordable housing issues in their area. Our events act as a catalyst to build homes, foster the spirit of service, and empower young adults... mile by mile, house by house.

The generally accepted definition of affordability is for a household to pay no more than 30 percent of its annual income on housing. Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care. An estimated 12 million renter and homeowner households now pay more then 50 percent of their annual incomes for housing, and a family with one full-time worker earning the minimum wage cannot afford the local fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States. The lack of affordable housing is a significant hardship for low-income households preventing them from meeting their other basic needs, such as nutrition and healthcare, or saving for their future and that of their families.

So as you see Joe, Rich, Chad, its not about crack heads or hookers. Its people like you or me. I hope you never find yourself losing a job or having something tragic happen to your family where you find yourself without a home.

But what do I know, I'm just chubby and complainy, right...Thats why I'm dedicating a second summer of my life to service while you sit there and complain about it. Shame on you!
March 29, 2010, 9:43 pm
Richie Rich from parkslope says:
Angela Parrotta, your local neighborhood pimp and crack head will thank you....
Back in the 80's the projects and low income housing became a crack house over ridden by rodents.
Also, low income housing will decrease the value of the neighborhood property.

March 30, 2010, 8:42 am
Aright from allover says:
one word for you negative nellys.....
ignorance
March 30, 2010, 1:04 pm
Francesca says:
Hey Rich,

If you are going to impersonate someone with your last post as "angela" at least get the spelling of their name correct! I believe Angela spells her last name with 2 Ts. Nice try though. You are only making yourself look like a jerk. Grow up.

Rock on Ladies!
April 2, 2010, 11:12 am
Kristie says:
Wow. I know that in my world I don't preach about something unless I know the facts, and it's painfully apparent that someone did not do their research before bashing this amazing organization that helps to put roofs over hundreds of families' heads every year.

Last year my group helped build a home in Iowa for a family that lost their house and their daughter in a fire the previous year. The whole community was involved in helping this family get back on their feet. I'm not sure if you know about the strenuous application process that families must go through in order to get a house built for them by Habitat for Humanity. They also must put in a certain amount of sweat equity hours to help build their home. Maybe you should read up and understand that no "crack head" or "pimp" would be accepted into the cause that we are involved in.

The NYC HFH (habitatnyc.org) does an amazing job every year and there is a waiting list for volunteers. They continue to build "decent, affordable" homes all around the 5 boroughs to help families get out of a "crack house over ridden by rodents". Again we are not just bringing awareness to Brooklyn's affordable housing issues, but the whole country. I don't see how our actions make us complainers, if anything I believe that is the only thing you have been doing. As far as being chubby, what can I say, I like food and eat a lot of it after all that cycling. Have a great day!
April 4, 2010, 11:54 am
Richie Rich from parkslope says:
Krisite and the hypocrites club,
I bet you don’t live next to a housing project or affordable housing. I bet you don’t even have one minority friend.
Lets be for real
April 7, 2010, 11:43 am
NS says:
Richie,

Some solid baiting tactics you are using. But I’m afraid the concerns you address lose nearly all their merit when you resort to name calling and general belittling. You have every right to disagree, but if you care to debate the issue, you should do so intellectually, not as if we are at recess.

It is my hope, however, that these ladies do not respond to you again. They are trying to help people who aren’t as lucky as you and I- people who don’t have the time or resources to bicker in news article commentary. I recommend you do the same. Be real, indeed.

Oh, by the way. Tag. You’re it.
April 8, 2010, 10:20 am
R Schnabel from Carroll Gardens says:
For the record,

This article incorrectly states that these volunteers are not sweating their time to build affordable housing in Brooklyn, but rather in rural areas along their route from the east coast to the west coast where 'affordable housing' means a different thing outside the city.

Good luck ladies. Make Brooklyn proud.
April 8, 2010, 1:53 pm
me says:
http://www.habitatnyc.org/construction_completed1.html
there is a difference between "affordable" and "substandard" housing
April 8, 2010, 2:11 pm
your silly from Kensington says:
PINEAPPLES.

I can't afford housing but I eat pineapples everyday, does this make me a bad person. YOUR AN IDIOT
April 8, 2010, 3:24 pm
Richie Rich from parkslope says:
I am only trying to protect my parkslope neighbors.
April 9, 2010, 4:36 pm
bb says:
I just want to say Richie Rich is just IGNORANT, and I don't think his name should be Richie Rich. I don't think it fit his character, the rich don't have time to bicker about issues like this. This guy don't have anyone to listen to him, so he takes advantage of every opportunity to voice his worthless opinions. Ladies do what you do!!!!
July 6, 2010, 2:02 pm

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