Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Among de Blasio's "messes," Atlantic Yards affordable housing gets a pass

From the New York Times yesterday, Messes Pile Up for de Blasio in 2nd Year:
The [clash with Gov. Andrew Cuomo] episode, recounted by several people familiar with the discussion, was an extraordinary public moment of discord, laying bare a host of challenges confronting the de Blasio administration in a messy second year: tension among aides; a perilous, often powerless relationship with Mr. Cuomo, a fellow Democrat; and the struggles of Mr. de Blasio, a political operative by training, to control the perception of his stewardship.
When the mayor’s top political aide raised concerns about battling the car-service app Uber, saying it could be a tough fight, Mr. de Blasio pushed forward, prompting a public relations fiasco that ended with City Hall’s abruptly dropping a proposal to limit the company’s growth.
Warned that rising complaints about homelessness could hurt him politically, Mr. de Blasio announced action on the issue this month, appearing reactive to negative headlines.
And while federal authorities praised the mayor’s handling of the Legionnaires’ outbreak as “swift” and “robust,” the response was still questioned by some city Democrats. Frustrated, the mayor led a marathon weekend meeting with agency leaders, demanding details on their progress.
In interviews, allies of the mayor said they deeply supported Mr. de Blasio and his efforts to combat inequality. But they expressed worry that his administration had not done enough to ensure New Yorkers recognize his accomplishments.
...Mr. de Blasio forcefully defended his record in an interview on Saturday, citing what he called “fundamental achievements with a very big reach,” including a rare rent freeze on many rent-regulated apartments, progress on affordable housing, and his universal prekindergarten program.
As commenters pointed out, there's evidence for de Blasio being treating more gently by the press than deserved--after all, the Times had to link to a New York Post article about political appointee Stephanie Yazgi. Then again, there was no mention of universal pre-K.

Here's the comment I tried to post too late

A perusal of comments suggests that the press--and this article--have ignored (or very lightly scrutinized) examples of the mayor's achievements and his deficits. Take, for example, the mayor's claims of "progress on affordable housing," reported without elaboration in the article.

At the heavily promoted groundbreaking last December for a tower in the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park complex, de Blasio stated. "This is a symbol of what we intend to do with our affordable housing plan over and over and over and over."

Most people/press bought that, though the Daily News more incisively framed it as "De Blasio hails 'affordable housing' complex in Brooklyn with $3,500 apartments."

After all, this will be a 100% "affordable" building. However, it's merely a reallocation of buildings once planned as 50% market and 50% affordable; this 100% affordable building will be matched by a 100% market building. 

Moreover--and the reason for the Daily News headline--the building skews from the "original promise" to allot the subsidized units among five income "bands," with only 20% for the best-off cohort, middle-income households.

Instead, 50% of the units in this and the next subsidized tower will go to households earning 165% of Area Median Income (AMI), or more than $140,000 for a family of four. That cohort didn't march for this project.

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