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When affordable housing needs to be advertised: Hunters Point South (and maybe moderate-income AY)?

We all know that lotteries for low-income subsidized housing get an enormous response, as noted in articles like DNAinfo's 7/31/14 More than 53,000 Artists Apply for 89 Affordable Harlem Apartments.

So, if the affordable housing lottery for two Hunter’s Point South towers in Queens drew more than 25,000 applications in the first week, as the Observer reported, why was the advertisement at right posted recently in the Greenpoint Avenue stop on the G train?

Why was the developer's street team on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint Saturday handing out brochures for, plus free KIND bars?

Because it's not as easy to get takers for the moderately priced housing, which is below market for new construction in the Long Island City waterfront neighborhood but--up to $2,509 for a one-bedroom and $33,00 for a two-bedroom--as (or more) costly than some other units in older or less well-situated buildings within a reasonable distance.

So I wouldn't bet against a similar marketing campaign aimed to get households with six-figure incomes to pay $3,000 for subsidized, below-market, income-linked but hardly inexpensive Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park two-bedroom apartments.

The best deal in New York

The advertisement for Hunter's Point South, located one subway stop from Manhattan, indicates that the "best apartment deal in New York" is for moderately priced rent stabilized apartments.

Not low-income ones. Those are better than best, actually, but they're a long shot. I'm sure a large percentage of the 25,000 applicants seek the 186 low-income apartments apartments. After all, "low income opportunities are available" text appears in much smaller type.

The 738 "moderately priced" apartments may be tougher to fill as rents "for middle and moderate income units range from $1,561 to $4,346 for household incomes $55,200 to $224,020."

The web site has more details, including the full rent ranges, as noted below. Studios would rent from $1,561 to $1,997, while one-bedroom units would rent from $1,965 to $2,509. There are less expensive apartments in the area, but not in the new towers; the best price on a one-bedroom I could find on StreetEasy is $2,700.

The challenge

The Daily News, which reported that 50,000 were expected to apply for these new units, quoted an official at developer Related as claiming “This is the best deal in New York City.” The median price in Long Island City in September for a studio was $2,293, and $3,803 for a two-bedroom, according to the Daily News.

Still, the Hunter's Point South apartments are hardly cheap, as shown in the graphic below.

And there may be alternatives. In other words, the developers--Related, with Phipps Houses and Monadnock Development--are challenged to recruit people who might consider a less expensive apartment in the general area, but who are willing to pay more for a higher-quality new unit. Perhaps that's why they're marketing in Greenpoint.

Also, as shown in a New York Post account of the difficulty the Gotham West complex in Manhattan had in renting a one-bedroom unit for $2,509, a lot of middle-income people don't recognize that they qualify for subsidized units, which also offer the carrot of rent stabilization, meaning rents will rise modestly over the years and they will get their lease renewed.

The low-income units

Who's eligible

The has good graphics explaining the ranges of income available under the low-income and moderate-income scenarios.

Note that while Atlantic Yards subsidized housing in the first tower goes up to 160% of AMI and in the next two to 165% of AMI, some units in the new Queens buildings would go to 205% of AMI.

How to apply

The web site also provides details on how to apply:
Gather relevant household and income information as you prepare to start your application.
Visit and apply for Hunter’s Point South Living.* One application covers both buildings.
The marketing and application period will conclude on December 15th. At this point the lottery will take place. We will begin notifying qualified applicants individually regarding their application starting in Q1 2015.
If selected, qualified applicants will be invited to learn more about the buildings and available apartment options.
Locals get preference:
The preference and order in which applications will be reviewed are as follows: 7% of apartments for mobility, hearing and/or visually impaired, 50% of apartments for residents of Queens Community Board 2, 5% of apartments for municipal employees, remaining non-preference applicants.
Apartments are designed to be permanently affordable.
There's no poor door, but there are differentiated benefits:
  • All residents will enjoy the benefit of a 24-hour attended lobby, an on-site Resident Manager, and on-site staff to assist with them. Other amenities, which do have a cost, include use of a party room, an outdoor terrace, a fitness center, playroom, a bike room, resident storage, a pet amenity, and The Farm, an outdoor community garden. The costs will cover maintenance and operations of the amenity facilities.


  1. Anonymous9:53 AM

    Would people earning six figures want to stigmatize themselves by saying they are moderate income? Maybe living in a fancy new apartment will appeal to certain people who could find comparable apartments. But wouldn't those same people also not want to be considered "moderate income"? It seems like a real marketing problem.


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