Thursday, September 30, 2010

FCR's Gilmartin claims affordable housing goes to (four-person) households earning only up to $90,000 a year; she's off by one-third

Well, you could say Forest City Ratner Executive VP MaryAnne Gilmartin explains affordable housing better than she did at a public appearance in July 2009, when she was unable (or unwilling) to describe the monthly rent range.

But you couldn't say she was fully able to explain it at a public meeting last night, given that she significantly downplayed the availability of subsidized housing to middle-income tenants.

She suggested that affordable housing for families of four would be limited to households earning up to about $90,000.

Actually, affordable housing would be available to those earning up to 160% of Area Median Income (AMI), or $126,720 for a family of four.

That means rents near or above $2000 a month for most affordable units (for four persons), under even the most optimistic scenario. As I wrote in August, with an AMI of $79,200, a four-person household would have to pay the following (at the top of each band from the MOU):
  • Band 1: $792
  • Band 2: $990
  • Band 3: $1980
  • Band 4: $2772
  • Band 5: $3168
Questions beyond the plaza

The meeting, held at Borough Hall, mainly concerned the planned plaza outside the Barclays Center arena. Despite drawing more than 70 people, the meeting ran only 90 minutes, rather than two hours, before questions ran out.

The video below shows Gilmartin answering two questions about affordable housing. In the first, she's asked how many units would be built in the first building, and the first phase: the three residential towers on the arena block.



Her response was factual, reprising what has been publicly stated. "Forest City's overall commitment is 30% of the units that are built" on the arena block," she said. "About 1000 units of housing are planned; we are committed to 300.

The first residential building, B2, has between 380 and 400 units and could have a 50% level of affordability, she said, so that could mean 200 units online.

The follow-up

She was asked the definition of affordable housing.

"The definition of affordable housing as outlined by housing agencies," Gilmartin responded, noting that 100% of AMI is for a family of four is $79,200.

"What we do from that... families of four... making anywhere from 30,000 dollars a year to approximately 90,000 dollars a year would qualify for the housing based on those guidelines," she said.

But that significantly evades the actual configuration.

Note that, under one scenario for the first building, the affordable housing would go up only to 150% of AMI, or $118,800 for a family of four.

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