Skip to main content

As second term awaits, de Blasio can cite housing progress, but faces pressure to serve neediest

As his likely second term awaits, Mayor Bill de Blasio is facing pressure from the left/grassroots regarding affordable housing, which necessitates some hard choices. As City Limits reported today, in Massive Rally Demands Adoption of Alternative Housing Proposals:
Those rallying want the mayor to adopt two alternative housing proposals conceived by East Brooklyn Congregations and the Metropolitan Industrial Areas Foundation, faith-based organizations that have long been critical of the mayor’s housing approach. One calls for the rapid construction—within four years—of 15,000 units of senior housing on NYCHA and other city-owned lots and stresses the necessity of targeting low-income households. The other calls for a “top-to-bottom” rehabilitation of NYCHA over the same timeline.
These are proposals worth discussing, though it all comes down to numbers: de Blasio's plan for housing on NYCHA land would include a significant slice of market-rate units, and thus fewer low-income ones.

On 10/10/17, Gotham Gazette reported, Pushing New Affordable Housing Plan, Activists Plan Massive City Hall Rally, citing a non-specific mayoral response:
Mayoral spokesperson Melissa Grace said in an email Saturday, "We are big supporters of building affordable housing, including senior housing on underutilized NYCHA property. We’ve taken that fight on across the city and welcome the organizing and partnership of this and any group pressing to deepen those efforts. We look forward to working together.”
de Blasio, at a previous news conference suggested the city was constrained by the lack of "new housing aid from Washington,” plus the failure for the state to deliver on promised programs.

The de Blasio legacy

All this has led to some assessments. Jarrett Murphy wrote 10/4/17 in City Limits, Bill de Blasio is Still in His First Term and We’re Already Debating His Housing Legacy, that while de Blasio has been meeting ambitious affordable housing numbers, kept the lid on rents for rent-regulated apartments, helped tenants facing eviction, bolstered NYCHA, and created a “mandatory inclusionary housing” requirement for rezonings, "the city’s housing crisis continues."

And that's why coalitions like Real Affordability for All (RAFA) say "his plan does not include nearly enough apartments at the lower income tiers—where the affordability crisis is most acute and most painful."

Murphy suggests that, while de Blasio has made "enlightened and decent" choices, "[i]n two important ways, however, he has leaned toward being a far more conventional politician than his 'Tale of Two Cities' 2013 campaign suggested he would be, or as the times demand."

One is that aforementioned mismatch between the highest need and the working/middle-class, which means the neediest will see little help and also face risks of gentrification and displacement.  (That's without mentioning de Blasio's praise for "affordable" units aimed at those earning six figures, such as at Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.) The other is to rely on real estate developers.

Writes Murphy:

So the test will be how de Blasio applies the limited resources and authority he has. That could mean skewing the housing plan more—maybe exclusively—toward the poorest households, even if that requires tilting his program toward preserving more apartments and constructing fewer new ones, even if it means a smaller plan altogether. The mayor could also suspend the neighborhood-focused rezonings in favor of more citywide measures to absorb new density and protect tenants. The mayor has already proposed a “mansion tax” on high-end real-estate deals to pay for more senior housing, and he’ll be pushed to consider other taxes to nudge vacant buildings and land onto the market. Instead of merely experimenting with community land trusts, the city could commit to them fully. He could also support ways to strengthen rent regulations if the state legislature goes along.
On 10/5/17, J. David Goodman wrote in the Times, De Blasio Expands Affordable Housing, but Results Aren’t Always Visible, noting the emphasis on preservation rather than creation of affordable units, a testament to the federal constraints on public housing and lack of Koch-era abandoned buildings and vacant land.

Times have changed:
“If under Bloomberg they had offered what they’re offering now, people would have been happy,” said Benjamin Dulchin, the executive director of the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, a nonprofit. “But by this point, people are fed up and want real answers. That’s the dilemma they’re in.”
...“At the end of de Blasio’s second term, we’ll ask two questions: Will he have built the 80 percent of the 200,000 units?” said Mr. Dulchin, the housing advocate. “But the other question is, Will the city be more affordable? And a lot of communities are not convinced of that.”
The Daily News crusades

In an editorial today, De Blasio’s base bites back, the Daily News cites "the human reality check" de Blasio faces.

In an editorial yesterday, Build bigger, Bill and create housing for New Yorkers, the Daily News, while acknowledging progress, urges him to heed the protesters:
Grant this much to de Blasio: His housing plan resourcefully squeezes affordable units out of new apartment buildings and meanwhile invests billions into erecting new housing for the needy, even with too little help from the federal government and too few vacant city-owned parcels left. Hearing loud and clear that rents at first weren’t low enough, this year he added $1.9 billion more in capital funds.
But so alarming is the scale of displacement churning neighborhoods that the moment calls for a more dramatic change in the script.


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.

The previous graphic, from August 2017 (without the ghost B1)

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…

Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …