Saturday, September 02, 2006

AY displacement? Rev. Daughtry is incredulous (and uninformed)

An article in the Courier-Life chain this week, headlined Atlantic Yards Shockwaves: Rent Hikes For Its Neighbors , summarizes the displacement issue as presented in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement:
Renters in unregulated buildings in Bedford Stuyvesant, Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene and Gowanus may be forced to search for new digs if the controversial project comes to pass, the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for Forest City Ratner’s plan reveals.
But in the future—and even already, there might be little to fear, the document notes. Real estate pressures have already forced out many lower- to moderate-income residents. It is assumed, then, that those left behind will have enough money to absorb the project’s impact.


FCR spokeswoman Lupe Todd and ACORN's Bertha Lewis make the argument, which also appears the DEIS, that the inclusion of affordable housing in the project would stem gentrification. And the Rev. Herbert Daughtry said, “This project will ensure the presence of minorities…where everything around [the project] is in the luxury class.”

Well, not at all. Most new construction is market-rate, but the question is what happens to people who live in affordable apartments that are not rent-regulated. The Courier-Life report suggests that Daughtry shouldn't moonlight as a tenant lawyer:
Asked about the threat to renters, Daughtry was incredulous. “There has to be some kind of legal protection,” he said.

A closer look

However, as I noted, 5735 of 6860 units (84%) in the Atlantic Yards project would go to households earning over $50,000, which is the household income in the surrounding study area. That contradicts the DEIS statement:
Similarities between the proposed project housing mix and the housing mix currently present in the ¾-mile study area indicate that the socioeconomic profile of new households and existing households would be comparable.

I pointed out a crucial error in the DEIS. It stated:
The distribution of affordable and market rate rental units would also be similar on the proposed project site and in the ¾-mile study area. A housing unit is generally considered “affordable” if the household occupying it pays 30 percent or less of its income towards housing costs. As of the 2000 Census, approximately 59 percent of all renter households in the ¾-mile study area were spending less than 30 percent of their household income on housing costs. This is similar to the proportion of affordable units planned as part of the proposed project.

Yes, 50 percent of the project rental units would be affordable. But that doesn't mean they'd be affordable to the same group of people. If the median household income in the study area is $50,000, current affordable rents are much lower than the affordable rents that Atlantic Yards renters would pay.

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