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The mismatch: Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park affordable housing vs. Brooklyn's need (but helping solve borough's housing crisis?)

So how well does the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park affordable housing--below-market, income-linked--match the need in Brooklyn? Short answer: not much.

Let's compare the affordability to Brooklyn at large. Yes, the four Community Districts/Boards from which residents get there preference for 50% of the slots in the housing lottery do have a higher median income than the borough at large. (See the caption in the chart below.)

But remember that Atlantic Yards was touted in 2006, as the flyer below shows, as helping solve "Brooklyn's housing crisis." And the numbers are far off.

Brooklyn demographics

First, let's look at Brooklyn demographics, via the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. According to American Community Survey, the average household size is 2.74 people. So that means many would be seeking two-bedroom units.

(One- and two-person households, who can fit in studios or one-bedroom apartments, have a much better shot. Yes, four-person households can fit in a two-bedroom unit, at least if the kids are in bunk beds, or someone sleeps on the couch. But there are no three-bedroom units in 461 Dean, and there will be 15 such units at 535 Carlton, of which 9 will rent for more than $3,000 a month.)

I've color-coded the five income cohorts for which there will be affordable housing, and then applied the same color codes to the announcements for the two affordable lotteries, limited to the two-bedroom units. (The color-coded categories do not precisely apply to the affordable housing categories, but they're pretty close.)

First, note that people in the three lowest-income cohorts--some 28% of the borough--are likely not eligible for any of the affordable housing.  Then notice that only those in the two best-off cohorts--12.4% of the borough are ineligible.
In the 3/4-mile study area in a smaller radius of the project site, which obviously does not include the full four Community Districts from which residents get preference in the lottery, 34.5% of households would have incomes exceeding $100,000, according to the Final Supplemental EIS issued in 2014. By contrast, the borough figure is 25.2%, as indicated above.
Low-income units

One central challenge is that what is defined as low-income, in relation to Area Median Income (AMI), is already higher income than many in Brooklyn.

In the green category, for the 9.6% of Brooklyn households earning $25,000 to $34,999, there would be 1 of the 36 two-bedroom units at 461 Dean, and 4 of the 87 two-bedroom units at 535 Carlton.

de Blasio's housing goals, set in 2014
In the yellow category, for the 11.3% of Brooklyn households earning $35,000 to $49,999, there'd be 9 two-bedroom units at 461 Dean, and 22 at 535 Carlton.

Remember, despite the intention of de Blasio's housing plan to focus 78% of the units on low-income (and very low income/extremely low income) households, they get a far smaller fraction of this housing.

Moderate- and middle-income units

In the red category, for the 15.5% of Brooklyn households earning $50,000 to $74,999, there'd be 5 two-bedroom units at 461 Dean, and 22 at 535 Carlton.

In the purple category, for the 10.5% of Brooklyn households earning $75,000 to $99,999, there'd be  5 two-bedroom units at 461 Dean, and 13 at 535 Carlton.

In the blue category, for the 12.8% of Brooklyn households earning $100,000 to $149,999, there'd be 16 two-bedroom units at 461 Dean, and 44 at 535 Carlton.

461 Dean
461 Dean lottery
535 Carlton

535 Carlton lottery
Oddities in the Supplemental EIS

From 2014, Supplemental EIS; click to enlarge
Irony alert: in the 2014 Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, Chapter 4A, Operational Socioeconomic Conditions, excerpted at right, households with income over $100,000 are classified as "market-rate."

That doesn't fully square with the separate acknowledgement that the maximum allowable income (in 2011 dollars) for a family of four in the highest affordable income band (141-160 percent of Area Median Income AMI) is $134,790. (Both the allowable AMI and the percentage thereof have increased.)

Note that the Supplemental EIS "analysis assumes the commercial mixed-use variation which includes up to 4,932 residential units, including up to 1,800 affordable units."

That's different from the long-promised residential mixed-use variation, with 2,250 affordable units, and assumes more office space.


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