Brooklyn Deep: Who is a part of your household?
Jessica Ababon: I live with my husband Joshua and our dog, Butters.
BKD: Where did you live in Central Brooklyn?
JA: 1865 Fulton Street, so that’s like Ralph Avenue and Fulton Street. I grew up there until college. I moved to Bushwick after that.
BKD: Did you own or rent in Bed-Stuy? How much were you paying?
JA: Right before I moved out, I remember my mom paying around $600 per month for a two-bedroom.
BKD: Where do you live now?
JA: Now I rent a one-bedroom apartment in Williamsburg, by the Williamsburg waterfront.
BKD: How long have you been in Williamsburg?
JA: This is our third year living here.
BKD: How much are you paying in rent?
JA: This apartment is $2,800 a month.
BKD: Why did you leave Bed-Stuy?
JA: In my mind it was always like, I’m leaving to get closer and closer to work. Now I walk to work, so the ultimate goal was to shorten how much time I was spending on the train.
BKD: How long did you live in your last place in Bed-Stuy?
JA: When I was in Bed-Stuy as a child, it was from the age of six until I was 16, so 10 years.
BKD: Do you visit Bed-Stuy often? What has changed in your eyes?
JA: I really don’t have a reason to go back there. Nobody that I hang out with lives there anymore. Everybody’s left, or moved to the south, or moved into the city.
I was there two weekends ago for brunch, and one thing I noticed, is a bunch of brownstones with for sale signs on them and I’m thinking where did all the people go who were in these renovated brownstones?
It feels like the landscape has changed. There are white people in Bed-Stuy, jogging, and just hanging out, and making babies there. I never would have seen that as a kid.
BKD: What do you miss about Bed-Stuy?
JA: Feeling like I belong there. I miss the community; I miss seeing people who look like me. I miss the small mom and pop shops. I think that’s just a problem in the city overall where you need major bucks just to open a small business.
There are still those few little places, the old African shops, Caribbean food places– I’ll leave New York when the only Caribbean food place, is a multi-million dollar fusion joint.
BKD: What do you like the most about where you live now, in Williamsburg?
JA: The safety is fantastic. I grew up in a really rough time in Bed-Stuy; when crime was an everyday thing.
I remember seeing way too much when I was a kid. It’s nice that I know if I want the fire department or the police department to show up, they will show up within the hour. That’s awesome.
But when we moved here, it was a financial adjustment. My husband’s also a professional and as working professionals, earning good money, we probably will not be able to buy a home in New York City. At least, not anything comparable to this apartment.
BKD: What’s your shout-out to your old neighborhood?
JA: Bed-Stuy, you helped raise me. You have always felt like another parent that I revere.