Tuesday, July 14, 2015

de Blasio hails "record-breaking" housing progress; Atlantic Yards "100% affordable" towers represent 27% of new middle-income units

A triumphant, quote-filled press release from the mayor's office yesterday was headlined De Blasio Administration Announces a Record-Breaking 20,325 Affordable Apartments and Homes Financed in Last Fiscal Year, Enough for 50,000 New Yorkers, with the subheadings:
  • More new affordable apartments underway than at any time since City’s housing department was created in 1978
  • New programs for seniors, extremely low income New Yorkers and homeless families drive the creation of thousands of new apartments
  • Major progress towards City’s goal of 200,000 affordable apartments in 10 years
From the press release:
This year’s progress was driven by new programs launched under Housing New York, including... 1,247 new apartments for the formerly homeless... 1,544 apartments for seniors... 1,164 new apartments for the lowest income families... 3,205 new apartments through “Inclusionary Housing”
As noted in some press coverage, the progress hardly matches the need.

The Atlantic Yards anomaly

Note that two "100% affordable) Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park buildings, B14 (535 Carlton Avenue and B3 (38 Sixth Avenue) are counted--though not specified in that total. Of the 600 total units, 65%, or 390, would go to middle-income households.

See links above and also note that the chart cites the income range for a three-person household, though typically a four-person household is used, with larger numbers.

That means that, of the 1,458 new middle-income housing starts, 26.7% are derived from one Brooklyn project.

Press coverage mostly positive

One version of the Associated Press article was headlined NYC finances 20,000 affordable housing apartments in a year, while another stated De Blasio: Administration Has Preserved Most Affordable Housing Since 1989. The Wall Street Journal brief was headlined Big Gains in Securing Affordable Apartments.

The New York Daily News wrote Bill de Blasio built or preserved 20,000 affordable-housing units in 12 months, setting a 25-year record,

The Daily News did quote Maritza Silva-Farrell, a spokeswoman for Real Affordability for All, as calling the announcement “a premature victory lap," and stating that the the administration “should focus on achieving much deeper levels of real affordability in housing, especially in neighborhoods that will be rezoned.”

Crain's New York Business published Mayor announces near-record number of affordable-housing units, subtitled, not so precisely, "The last fiscal year saw 20,325 apartments created or maintained with low rents, the most in a quarter-century." (After all, not all units have low rents, since "affordable" means "income-linked.")

Crain's noted:
On the other hand, the income targets for last year's units were off slightly from the administration's overall goals. A lower portion of units than projected were set aside for extremely low-income tenants, while a greater percentage than forecast were financed for a slightly higher-earning bracket, though still considered low-income.
Crain's cited Silva-Farrell's statement but noted praise "from housing groups such as the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development," which said in a statement, "Mayor's Housing Plan Off to a Strong Start."

Actually, ANHD was fairly nuanced, adding:
To be sure, there are some areas in which the administration has room for improvement. Most notably, the administration needs to focus on supporting non-profit housing developers to a much greater extent, in order to make sure that the affordable housing created stays affordable, and continues to benefit the community into the future. Neighborhood partnerships need to be for the long-term, not just until a specific rezoning is done, and the city can't afford to miss any more opportunities on this front. And the administration needs to redouble its efforts on producing units for the lowest income New Yorkers, where the housing crisis and rent burden is greatest.
In Gothamist, a skeptical take

In Gothamist, Christopher Robbins wrote De Blasio Celebrates New Trickle Of Affordable Housing
Earlier today Mayor de Blasio triumphantly announced the creation and preservation of 20,325 affordable housing units towards his goal of 200,000 over ten years. That initial figure is roughly 70,000 shy of the 93,000 New Yorkers who recently applied to live in 925 affordable apartments in Queens.
Robbins also diced the actual affordability, noting that 36.3% of New York households make less than $35,000 a year [PDF]; 47.8% make less than $50,000. Only 3065 of the new and preserved units would be available to that first group.

From Gothamist

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