(Updated) Community negotiators got faster affordable housing and new oversight. They didn't know two all-affordable towers would skew toward $100K+ households.
BrooklynSpeaks and the Fifth Avenue Committee stated:
Community groups and local residents reach historic accord with New York State and developers of Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards Project: Agreement calls for delivery of 2,250 promised units of affordable housing ten years earlier than previously agreed; imposes penalties for failure to meet deadlines; creates tenant protection fund and special oversight subsidiaryEmpire State Development stated:
GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES COMPREHENSIVE PLAN TO ACCELERATE THE DEVELOPMENT OF ATLANTIC YARDS PROJECT AND ENSURE TIMELY DELIVERY OF PUBLIC BENEFITS: Plan Includes Commitment to Build 2,250 Affordable Apartments by 2025 instead of 2035
Governor Creates Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation [AYCDC], Fourteen Member Board will Monitor and Oversee Atlantic Yards Project and Advise ESD Board
(Updated: As BrooklynSpeaks' Gib Veconi points out, correcting the original version of this post, since 2008 the governance always would have been controlled by the governor.)
In other words, the delivery of housing is actually not ten years early, just ten years ahead of the "outside date."
And there likely will be more family-sized units, though we don't know details.
But the under-examined issue regarded the affordability of new units, news that made a big splash in the Daily News and has provoked critical comments from Daily News columnist Harry Siegel.
100% affordable sounds good, but...
"[T]he community has been crying out for affordable housing now,” Michelle de la Uz, executive director of the Fifth Avenue Committee, told the Times.
I got a response today from de la Uz:
The basis for our lawsuit was disparate impact on African Americans related to the delay of the provision of affordable housing. Income levels were not part of our claim and had the suit been filed, the City of New York would not have been a respondent.
Regardless, our research shows that the the impact of the delay occurs across all AMI bands for African Americans.
And to answer your question directly, we were not consulted nor asked to sign off on any aspect of the affordability levels, though they appear to be consistent with the CBA/MOU which allows households up to 160% of AMI (city programs now allow up to 165% of AMI) to receive subsidy. You'd need to ask MHANY and FCRC to disclose if their MOU has been amended in any way.
We continue to believe the AMI levels should be looked at for the project to try to make the units affordable to more Brooklynites.
That implies that all who signed on, including the elected officials, were similarly touting "faster affordable housing" without recognizing that the de Blasio administration had changed the configuration of the housing for the next two towers (and possibly more).
Those points are worth making, but as I pointed out, the public relations statements touted the entire affordable housing package.
Not quite. For example, in these next two towers, the community is getting a different allotment of affordable housing, with only 30% of the affordable units--as opposed to the promised 40%--for low-income households. Rather than have 20% of the units go to moderate income households, there would be only 5%.
Council Member Laurie Cumbo said, “Affordable housing is one of Brooklyn’s greatest challenges and this agreement addresses it head on." Actually, it doesn't.
Good job @AYReport explaining role of potential @BklynSpeaks suit 2 accelerate #affordableHousing at #AtlanticYards http://wnyc.org/2CefY
Norman Oder @AYReport 2h
@GibVeconi Agree it played significant role. But still question how much leverage @BklynSpeaks had/used, given housing details that surfaced
Gib Veconi @GibVeconi 1h
@AYReport #FairHousing claims r based on race, not income. Affordability bands in NYC subsidy policy not in potential lawsuit scope.
Norman Oder @AYReport 1h
@GibVeconi Thks4 for clarification, but did u/FAC know of/agree 2 income configuration in 2 all-affordable buildings? Big departure from MOU
@AYReport Was not privy to those details, but AYCDC should oversee fulfilling affordability commitments on total 2,250 units going forward.
Norman Oder @AYReport 52m
@GibVeconi OK. AYCDC role is progress. But how do 390/600 $100K+ affordable units address gentrification issues you've eloquently raised?
@AYReport 180 units 4 <= 60% AMI = big acceleration. Yes need more, but getting these now matters 4 ppl facing displacement pressure.
Norman Oder @AYReport 33m
@GibVeconi I hear u, but isn't there big tradeoff if rest of affordable units skew upward? BkSpeaks pr emphasized total aff. housing package
Norman Oder @AYReport 28m
@GibVeconi Also note: low-income units = 40% of total affordable in #AtlanticYards, but only 30% in next two towers. Another tradeoff.
Gib Veconi @GibVeconi 24m
@AYReport same tradeoff if not mistaken. See previous reply re AYCDC.
How much progress?
The same argument could apply to the next two towers: all but the 30% low-income units would be "mitigating the developer's risk with taxpayer subsidy while gentrifying the community board."
The shift from 20% to 30% low-income units, and faster delivery of those units, will be meaningful to those 180 households facing displacement pressure, as Veconi stated. And the new Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation should monitor--if not tweak--the affordable housing of the project going forward.
But it's incomplete to describe the 590-600 units in the two new towers simply as more "affordable housing" without explaining how the configuration has shifted.