Skip to main content

On BK Live, my message in affordable housing discussion: the devil's in the details

I appeared two days ago on a segment of BK Live, Brooklyn Independent Media's daily program, focusing on affordable housing and gentrification, two rather complex topics.

Joining me as panelists were Sharon Toomer of Black and Brown News, and Gerard Flynn, a freelancer on housing issues for City Limits and other publications.


The hosts first asked for a quick reaction to the term "gentrification." Toomer said it connoted displacement, and Flynn declared it a mixed bag, given rising rents and attendant impacts.

Given that they'd covered the summary, I provided a quip: "expensive coffee, doggie day care, yoga or pilates."


BK Live 1/7/15: Affordable Housing Roundtable from Brooklyn Independent Media.
The image is from my article on Atlantic Yards housing for BKLYNR.

Looking at de Blasio's plan

The conversation then turned to Mayor Bill de Blasio's affordable housing plan.

The focus is supposed to be on low-income households, as 77% of them are are rent-burdened, paying more than 30% of their income on rent, while far fewer moderate- and middle-income households face such stresses.

Affordable housing, I said, might better be described as "income-linked," because it technically means renters pay 30% of their income.

So the issue is the distribution among low-, moderate, and middle-income households.

Even low-income households may be challenged in applying for such housing, as it requires a credit score of at least 600, a relatively high bar.

The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, I noted, is co-sponsoring seminars on applying for such housing, in tandem with nonprofit groups; the next one is Feb. 4.

My main message, regarding affordable housing and Atlantic Yards, was that the devil's in the details, since the distribution of such housing in the next two all-affordable towers skews significantly toward middle-income households paying more than $3,000 for a two-bedroom unit.


That was not what the people marching and rallying for this project were asking for, I pointed out, even though the mayor can claim "affordable housing."

Flynn cited NIMBYs (not in my backyard) who will oppose 50-story towers that advocates say are needed to bring affordable housing.

I said there's an intellectual recognition you can have density near transit hubs and wide streets, but, again, the devil's in the details.

What tell the mayor?

The hosts asked what we'd tell the mayor.

Toomer cited the need for sustainable jobs. Indeed, the affordable housing equation is not merely the supply of units, but also ensuring that people can pay increasing rents.

I said it was important to be transparent, and that the press was obligated to scrutinize the mayor. I pointed out how nearly everyone at the groundbreaking Dec. 15 for affordable Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park tower was cheering, but it was more complicated, and the Daily News, at least, noticed the cost of the apartments.

Coming up at BRIC

Two events are scheduled on the gentrification theme.

Jan. 22 and 23: Brer Rabbit The Opera: A Funky Meditation On Gentrification (ticketed) is an exploration of tricksterism, techno-animism and urban survival techniques, that tackles the modern dilemma of gentrification through the lens of legendary black folklore hero, Brer Rabbit, and his birthplace, the Briar Patch.

Jan. 28: Brooklyn for Sale: The Price of Gentrification, A Community Town Hall (free), featuring
Sharon Zukin (Sociology Professor, Brooklyn College)
Robert Cornegy (City Council Member, 36th District)
Neil deMause (Journalist/Author of The Brooklyn Wars: The Stories Behind the Remaking of New York's Most Populous Borough)
Ron Shiffman (Urban Planner/ Founder of the PRATT Center for Community Development)
Jherelle Benn (Community Organizer, Flatbush Tenant Association)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…