Skip to main content

At announcement of affordable housing seminars, celebratory air out of sync with reality of some not-so-affordable units

The flyer is here and in Spanish here
It's surely progress, the series of seminars announced yesterday to inform people how to apply for affordable housing lotteries, helping them ensure they properly fill out applications and try to clean up their credit.

But the press conference yesterday at Borough Hall, led by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, with several elected officials, developers' representatives, and nonprofit organizers, had an air of celebration and triumph out of sync with the reality.

"They're removing the 'No Vacancy'' sign," declared an effusive Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. "1100 [affordable] units will no longer be out of reach for the everyday Brooklynite."

"This is so Brooklyn can stay in Brooklyn," declared 35th District Council Member Laurie Cumbo, who said the idea for seminars grew out of conversations she had on the campaign trail.

"We are extremely proud of our affordable housing program at Atlantic Yards," declared Forest City Ratner's Melissa Burch, the only developer's representative to speak at the press conference. (Forest City will have the largest amount of subsidized units, and its CEO co-chairs the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.)

Actually, the affordability of the coming subsidized units was glossed over significantly, as well as the difficulty of winning a highly competitive lottery, even with 50% of the units set aside for residents of the local Community Board (or Boards) where the project is located.

Subsidized ≠ "low income"

Though Rob Solano of Churches United for Fair Housing--the sponsor of the first seminar--spoke with emotion about ten people sharing a bathroom, and people having to sleep on couches, many of the affordable units will be out of reach of such low-income residents.

(The first seminar is tomorrow at 6:30 pm at Brown Memorial Baptist Church, 484 Washington Avenue in Clinton Hill. RSVP to Churches United for Fair

No one at the press conference explained who'd be eligible for the 1100 units. Nor did they appear to welcome questions. DBP President Tucker Reed took three questions and chose, as the last questioner, someone who clearly wasn't press (no pen, notebook, or camera).

 Melissa Burch of Forest City, CM Laurie
Cumbo, BP Eric Adams, DBP President
Tucker Reed, from L-R. Twitpic via Adams
When I asked Reed afterward how the 1100 units were split among low-, moderate-, and middle-income units, he said he didn't know but I could contact the developers. (Affordable housing simply means households pay 30%--or sometimes 35%--of their income, which can vary greatly.)

Subsidized may top market rents

A significant slice of the coming subsidized units will be low-income units, and those households especially could use the help applying for the lottery.

However, a good number of the subsidized units will be well out of reach for those households. Well, we do know that, of the 600 units coming in the next two all-affordable Atlantic Yards towers, half the units would rent to middle-income households earning up to 165% of Area Median Income (AMI), with rents based on 160% of AMI.  

For 2013, 100% of AMI is $85,900 for a family of four and $60,200 for a single person, according to Housing Connect NYC, which has information on lotteries for city-subsidized buildings.

At 165% of AMI, a single person could earn $99,330 and be eligible for subsidized housing. If rent is 30% of $96,320 (160% of AMI), the monthly tab would be $2,408.

Those numbers should rise by 2015. Even according to 2013 figures, that subsidized unit would be more than the cost of a studio at the new Oro 2/BKLYN Air tower in Downtown Brooklyn, which lists rents from $2,315, Brownstoner said last week.

Querying Cumbo

I caught up with Cumbo after the press conference, and asked whether two-bedroom units renting for some $3400--as could be the case for middle-income subsidized units at Atlantic Yards--represented affordable housing for her constituency.

"That seems to be one of the bigger challenges," she allowed, after I noted how the actual affordability of the units was not announced until the day after the news broke. "While there has been a celebration of this... the question still comes up: affordable to whom?"

(Cumbo joined a celebratory press release at the time, saying, "I thank the Governor, the Mayor and the community advocates for making sure this project was done right. I am grateful for all the community members who fought the good fight to keep Brooklyn, Brooklyn.")

The deal to ensure that Atlantic Yards affordable housing would be built in ten years did not come with clarity on the distribution of affordability, though 40% of the subsidized units should be low-income ones. While the deal "may not be great by some standards," Cumbo said, "it was a way to come to a middle ground, it's going to expedite the process."

From the announcement

The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership explained the program:
Despite this, developers often have a hard time filling that quota, with lottery applicants often deemed ineligible for minor errors in their applications or poor credit. Enter a unique program spearheaded by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, in conjunction with State Assemblyman Walter Mosley and City Council Member Laurie Cumbo and some of the area’s largest real estate developers including Acadia Realty Trust/Washington Square Partners, BFC Partners,Forest City Ratner Companies, Steiner NYC LLC, and Two Trees Management Company, to help area residents better compete for the units coming online.
Five free seminars on financial empowerment will be led over the next year by housing advocates so area residents have the credit history they need to qualify for housing lotteries, as well as in-depth orientations on the application process.
Nonprofit groups hosing future seminars include the Fifth Avenue Committee, the Pratt Area Community Council, and the Mutual Housing Association of New York, which is Forest City Ratner's partner on Atlantic Yards affordable housing.

More coverage

Here's coverage of the press conference:


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…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in November 2017, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won't be so cheap.


The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

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 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…