Average "affordable" 2 BR in first Atlantic Yards tower would rent for $1946 (1 BR: $1161), according to 2012 figures, which should rise; market 2 BR: $4403
|From 12/7/12 financing commitment and agreement |
between HDC and FCR, via BrooklynSpeaks; click to enlarge
But neither developer Forest City Ratner nor Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing Atlantic Yards, has published the full list of expected rents for the 181 affordable units in the B2 tower, scheduled to open late next year at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street.
Here it is, at right, via the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), pointing to 16 subsidized 2 BR units at $2740 a month.
The chart again reminds us that the devil's in the details, that vaunted 50% market/50% subsidized housing program more precisely includes 20% low-income and 30% moderate- and middle-income. No wonder elected officials trying to speed up the construction of affordable housing would like the housing geared more to more lower-income families.
2 BR units: too few, too costly
The subsidized 2 BR units will range from $648 to $2740 in rent, with an average of $1946. And that number's based on 2012 Area Median Income (AMI), which surely will be higher as of 2014.
Sure, $1946 is below market for a new 2 BR at that location--Forest City expects $4403 for the market-rate 2 BRs--but it's much more than what most people rallying for the affordable housing hope for. As one ACORN member testified poignantly in 2009, "The people in my building cannot afford $2,000/month rent."
As I reported in 2012, Forest City Ratner agreed to increase the number of subsidized 2 BR units from 20 to 36 under pressure from HDC, but only by disproportionately assigning those units to households in the highest affordable "band," those earning up to 160% of AMI: $132,800 for a family of four, or $119,520 for a family of three. (At that point, there were to be 17, not 16, of the most expensive subsidized 2 BR units.)
The average subsidized 1 BR will rent for $1161, while the average subsidized studio will rent for $1078, so the clear deficit is sufficient and lower-priced family-sized units.
With 76 studios, 69 1 BRs, and 36 2 BRs, the building departs significantly from Forest City's pledge in the Affordable Housing Memorandum of Understanding, incorporated into the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement, that half of the affordable housing--in floor area--be devoted to 2 BR and 3 BR family-sized units.
So, while getting Forest City to increase the number from 20 to 36 was a victory of sorts for HDC, it remains well below what the developer promised.
Doing the math
Here's how I calculated the average rent, multiplying the rent level in each of the five "bands" times the number of units in each band:
- Studio: (5 x $494) + (26 x $640) + (15 x $939) + (15 x $1437) + (15 x $1810) = $81,900/76 = $1077.63
- 1 BR: (5 x $533) + (28 x $689) + (15 x $1187) + (16 x $1809) + (5 x $2276) = $80,086/69 = $1160.67
- 2 BR: (1 x $648) + (9 x $835) + (5 x $1433) + (5 x $2180) + (16 x $2740) =$70,068/36 = $1946.33
Who's affordability for?
Former ACORN chief organizer Wade Rathke wrote 10/18/06, warning about the difference between affordability that reached "the pre yuppie demographic, not people who are systemically poor."
"Affordable in our vernacular means low and moderate income families and individuals," he wrote, leaving out middle-income households. Yet he thought Atlantic Yards would be a solution:
Affordable in reality, whether on the concrete corridors of Nashville or the controversial Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, may just be a “starter” place for the upscale, young demographic wannabes, rather than an answer to the crises of affordable housing that ACORN confronts daily. Unless of course there is a housing deal to actually put real lower income families in the properties which is exactly what the deal with Ratner is in the Atlantic Yards proposal with ACORN, and needs to be what we start putting together in Nashville and so many other cities.Yes, there would be 20% low-income households in the Atlantic Yards rental units, making up 40% of the affordable housing, or 73 of 181 subsidized units. But with only ten low-income 2 BR units in the first tower, it's a stretch to call this deal a model.
Income eligibility guidelines, as of 2012
Note that AMI, which includes wealthy suburban counties, does not represent Brooklyn income, which is considerably lower.
|Income "bands" for B2, first Atlantic Yards tower under construction|