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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + FAQ (pinned post)

The evolution of Bill de Blasio, on affordable housing

From a conversation between incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York magazine's Chris Smith:
CS: In the most recent housing negotiations, you achieved two of your highest priorities — ending tax breaks for luxury condos and mandating the construction of affordable housing when projects are subsidized. But you could have taken power from developers by walking away from the 421a tax-exemption program,A property-tax break for developers who agree to set aside apartments for poor and middle-class tenants in new buildings. keeping the revenue, and having the city build its own housing. 
BdB: We didn’t feel it would leverage the amount of affordable-housing creation that 421a did. It literally came down to modeling out what’s going to work best. We don’t think we would get anywhere near as many units as if we leveraged the public element of the equation to get the maximum private investment. Our affordable-housing plan has a very substantial middle-class component. Now, some advocates don’t like that. They would like it all to be for low-income folks. I believe the mission is to reflect the historic mix that has made this place so extraordinary. It’s an eyes-wide-open decision.
(Emphasis added)

Now de Blasio might say he's been consistent, but I think the evidence suggests that, as he moved closer to power, his views have moderated.

Let's recall then-Council Member de Blasio's statement at a May 2004 City Council hearing on Atlantic Yards: "What we need for affordable housing in New York City is for the lowest incomes slanted downward, not upward.”

Or how about an October 2007 interview, as I reported, when de Blasio was readying a run for Brooklyn Borough President. (The extension of term limits left Marty Markowitz in the job.)

De Blasio acknowledged, “There’s a huge debate about what constitutes affordable, both in terms of what family income should be the cut-off point and what rent level people can actually afford.” (Well, there might be a debate about whether people can better afford 30% of net rather than gross income, but the policy won’t change.)

He continued, not unreasonably, “This is what I believe in: a tiered approach, whenever humanly possible, spread them out between the lowest income folks, which is families under $20,000, up to some level of moderate- or middle-income. Some people would cut it off at $60,000; some people would cut it off at $80,000. I don’t have a final number."

The tension

He acknowledged the tension between maximizing the number of units—which implies lower subsidies for more expensive units—and maximizing the spread of income levels.

As chair of the Council’s General Welfare Committee, he’d prefer to focus on the poorest New Yorkers, he said, but as a representative of his district, seeing families priced out, "then it’s perfectly legitimate to get up to 60 [thousand] or 70 [thousand] or more because it’s a tragic situation. School teacher plus bus driver is, what, $80,000?” (Probably more, with some seniority.)

Should those earning six figures get subsidized housing, I asked.

“Definitely below six figures,” he responded. “Absolutely below six figures. Over eighty [thousand] I don’t think is what I’m thinking about, although there may be some exceptions.”

Since then, the formula for calculating affordable housing, Area Median Income (or AMI), has made incomes and rents eligible rise steadily, while poorer New Yorkers see their incomes stagnate. That means that buildings like the "100% affordable" 535 Carlton can have most of their units aimed at households earning six figures, generating rather light response to the lottery.

BdB as central planner

Also note the mayor's apparent agreement that all land use should be centrally planned:
That wouldn't work, of course. But it's a bit of a straw man, because de Blasio could, in some cases, do more to ensure that property in the city is put to fairer use, like taxes on properties left empty

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