Sunday, December 20, 2015

Reasons to love NY? Why reporting on mixed-income "affordable" building requires a closer look at low- and middle-income applicants

Affordable Housing Could Look Like This, writes Andrew Rice in New York Magazine's Reasons to Love New York:
Like most everyone else in this scrunched city, my sister Katie has a scary-first-apartment story. It was a tenement in a remote part of Washington Heights: one bedroom, $1,450 a month, with mice. (Luckily, she has a cat.) She later found a better place, in a shingled Gowanus rowhouse, down a narrow set of basement stairs and next to a wheezy boiler: studio, $1,100. It once flooded.
As rents spiraled around her, Katie didn’t know how she’d ever get out of the basement. Then she got really lucky. She won the lottery for an apartment in Hunter’s Point South, a new affordable-housing development in Queens. “Every time I tell people I got this unit,” Katie says, “they say they’ve never met anyone who has gotten in via the housing lottery.” How long were the odds? There were 925 units available in the complex, and 92,925 applicants — a population roughly the size of Albany — entered the lottery.
See our Twitter discussion below. But my essential point is that the odds are not nearly as long for middle-income people like Katie, who pay nearly $1,700 a month for a studio, and much longer for low-income applicants.

Which means that aggregate numbers are less helpful than number of applicants for each "affordable" band, so journalists should drill down.

And that's why they had to advertise and promote the project to middle-income applicants, as I wrote, predicting the same would happen with the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park affordable housing.

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