Friday, January 15, 2010

Asked for current Atlantic Yards affordable housing plans, NYC HDC sends back resolutions more than three years old

If developer Forest City Ratner and its government partners have concrete plans to build affordable housing at the Atlantic Yards site, they haven't yet made moves to implement them.

In a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, I asked the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) for "documents that describe the current plans and timetable for affordable housing at the [Atlantic Yards] site, including the public costs/bonds involved."

What I got back was old hat: a collection (see below) of 20 documents, each a Resolution of Declaration of Intent, passed by the HDC board between 7/20/04 and 1/8/07, adding up to more than $2.2 billion in bonds.

They do not assure tax-exempt bonds for a measure of affordable housing; they simply mean that a developer may apply for such financing.

Previous reports

In September 2006, I reported on several of these documents. A 12/22/06 article in the Bond Buyer, headlined Atlantic Yards' Developer Filed Preliminary Paperwork for Up to $2.17B, reported that the developer had filed nonbinding paperwork for 19 potential buildings, thus allowing for flexibility rather than adding buildings, adding up to $2.17 billion.

(Only one additional document was authorized after that, apparently. Note that in some cases multiple documents were filed for the same parcels; Atlantic Yards is supposed to include 16 towers, not 19 or 20.)

The $2 billion-plus figure is likely an overstatement. In June 2007, I pointed to $1.4 billion expected for affordable housing bonds, according to a document provided to the Public Authorities Control Board that seems more accurate than the sum of the paperwork filed.

Is there enough?

But affordable housing is dependent on the availability of subsidies, and as of 2007, at least, there was a "crisis" in such financing, according to Shaun Donovan, then the city's top housing
official and now the nation's top housing official.

Is there enough bond capacity now for Atlantic Yards and competing projects? How would Atlantic Yards affordable housing compare in subsidy (or bonding needed) per unit? We don't know.
Declaration of Intent Resolutions for Atlantic Yards

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