That’s exacting what a NY Times editorial is accusing state officials of doing. Today’s NY Times editorial argues, that Congress should fix a visa program encouraging investment in high-unemployment areas that is being exploited in New York by gerrymandered maps that make wealthy areas look poorer.
In a published story last week, the paper reported that foreign investors (i.e., Chinese) were rushing to take advantage of a program offering green cards.
The visa program known as “EB-5“ encourages foreigners to invest $500,000 to $1 million in projects in designated poor areas across the country in return for a green card. To qualify, the zone must be designated undeveloped, poor or high unemployment area. In addition, each business or development project must create at least 10 jobs.
The Times accuses the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), acting on behalf of Manhattan developers, of custom-designing development zones to help attract potential investors seeking EB-5 visas. One example involved a zone in Lower Manhattan that crossed the East River to include the Farragut Houses, a low-income housing project in Brooklyn. These poor Farragut Houses have been used as window dressing in three separate projects.
Projects such as Atlantic Yards, the Battery Maritime Building, and the International Gem Tower have used questionable maps and the EB-5 program to attract foreign investors. Blogger Norman Oder and Reuters have revealed that manipulation of the program extends beyond deceptive zoning districts to misrepresentations and flat-out lies told to potential Chinese and Korean investors.
Not only are the Chinese financing our federal debt, they’re now lured into funding our private development projects with the promise of American citizenship. Didn’t anyone in our government read Marx’s Communist Manifesto, or Mao’s Red Book or even Orwell’s Animal Farm?
Can Governor Cuomo really think that this is the right way to create jobs for poor, unemployed New Yorkers? I strongly urge him to demand an explanation from Ken Adams, the head of the Empire State Development Corporation, whose agency is assisting projects in meeting EB-5 program requirements. (The Business Review reported earlier this month that the Cuomo Administration approved a $125K grant to create an EB-5 visa program in Albany.)
If the state thinks luring green card seeking foreign investors will create jobs for NYers, they should, at least, do so in a manner that does not manipulate poor communities or cheat these investors.
Cuomo, Assemblyman Karim Camara and Brooklyn officials should demand a plan that helps place Farragut Houses residents into permanent jobs at these projects.
Read the entire NY Times story here.
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