When the housing boom gets personal


Student Journalist Brianna Ferguson and her parents Robert Ferguson and Bridgette Gallo.

By Brianna Ferguson, Student Journalist

Editor’s Note: For the past year and a half the Peekskill Herald has been reporting on housing development in the city. Our coverage has concentrated on developer applications before the Common Council, Planning and Zoning boards. This is a different type of housing story – the personal story that is played out all too frequently in a market that is experiencing a boom. When student journalist Brianna Ferguson mentioned that she may not be returning to Peekskill High School for her senior year because her family had to find a new place to live, we asked her to tell the story. 

All across America rent has increased within the past few years at an unstable rate. Working families are struggling to make ends meet with the new rent increase especially in New York. Residents of Peekskill and the surrounding areas have also been having issues with finding housing, especially apartments, for an affordable price. 

My parents and I have been living in Peekskill in the same apartment for more than eight years. I’m a senior at Peekskill High School and I plan to go to college after I graduate. I’ve been involved in the school and my community as a member of numerous clubs and an honor society. I am a student athlete where I play flag football and I am on the high honor roll. 

My mom works at ShopRite in Mohegan Lake as a deli clerk. She’s been providing most of our household income because my dad has been disabled for over 15 years. He was a union construction worker until he got injuries to his back and neck from lifting heavy objects. When 9/11 happened, he went to the buildings and helped clean up the dust and fragments. He became sick and needed minor surgeries to his nose because of all of the toxins and dust he breathed in. He now has COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  

The author and her mom at the induction ceremony into the Social Studies National Honor Society.

Because of those circumstances, we had no choice but to apply for Section 8 to help with our housing costs. We have had Section 8 ever since we moved  to Peekskill, but before that we lived in Yonkers waiting years to get accepted into the Section 8 program. Section 8 helps a lot of families in lower income homes, but moving can be difficult. We have been actively looking for an apartment in Peekskill since June when our  landlord informed us he wants to sell the condo we currently live in. 

The timing of this moving process could not be worse because this is my last year at a school where I have known all of my friends for years. I have thought about my senior year ever since I was a freshman. During my junior year, I thought a lot about continuing to play flag football, going to the prom and graduating with my friends. But now this may not happen.

We have looked at a few places in Peekskill and the surrounding areas but haven’t been able to find a two-bedroom apartment because landlords are reluctant to take a Section 8 tenant. 

The end of September is the target date for us to move. We’re hoping for a miracle.