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City Housing Chair Williams on affordable housing: 100-120% of AMI "not the income bands we need"

Ask New York City Council Housing Committee Chairman Jumaane Williams about affordable housing, and some interesting answers emerge.

In an interview with City & State TV, Jarrett Murphy of City Limits asked Williams about the 421-a tax break, which has long incentivized market-rate construction, but then was restored to require a limited amount of affordable housing--though it sorely needs reform, according to a recent report by the Fiscal Policy Institute.

"I don't think the units that we've gotten back from 421-a at all match the rate of return that we're looking for," Williams said during the interview. "If we're going to give up our money and our taxes, which we should, we have to make sure we're getting the units we need to the people who need it the most."

At about 6:48, Williams drilled down: "People use the word affordable, but they're talking 120% of AMI [Area Median Income] 100% of AMI. Those are not the income bands we need. We need it as we go deeper."

The AY disconnect

That, of course, represents a huge disconnect with plans for the next two "100% affordable" towers at Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Brooklyn, which will be paired with two market-rate towers.

In these next two subsidized towers, 65% of the units will be at even higher AMI ranges, up to 145% and 165% of AMI.

Rents, as noted in the graphic below, will be set based on 30% of AMI levels slightly to somewhat lower than the income levels. But the upshot is that little more than one-third of the total units will be affordable for "the people who need it the most," to quote Williams.