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Post puffs 38 Sixth among "cheapest... chicest" housing; reality: 1,876 households applying for 152 costly middle-income units

Via Ashley Cotton Twitter
Yesterday, the New York Post published a sunny real estate roundup, NYC’s cheapest housing might be its chicest, prominently featuring two "100% affordable" buildings within Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, 38 Sixth and 535 Carlton.

That's 38 Sixth leading off with the two images on the first page, the interior and then the exterior view. From the article:
Greenland Forest City Partners — a joint venture with Greenland USA — is developing Brooklyn’s Pacific Park, which includes two new affordable addresses. “Whether it’s market-rate, mixed or affordable, we want to create a sense of community … and then everyone becomes invested in the home.”
One of the Pacific Park buildings, the SHoP Architects-designed 38 Sixth Ave., opened in August. All of its 303 units are priced below market-rate for individuals making between $20,126 and $173,415.
(A studio is as low as $532, and a three-bedroom as high as $3,695, for those who met the income requirements and won the lottery.)
Note that 38 Sixth Avenue was not open in August but rather empty as of 10/26/17, according to parent company Forest City Realty Trust.

Not cheap at all

Nor are most of the units, however below market, cheap. Remember, "affordable" means that people are supposed to pay 30% of their incomes in rent (though, in practice, those in the lower part of the income "band" would pay more).

Half the units in both 38 Sixth and 535 Carlton are aimed at households earning nearly or more than six figures. At 535 Carlton/38 Sixth, studios rent for $2,137/$2,121, 1-bedrooms for $2,680/$2,663, 2-bedrooms for $3,223/$3,206, and 3-bedrooms for $3,716/$3,695, and are open to households within relatively limited income bands.

While the article quotes architect Rick Cook about how "quantity and quality need to go together," it ignores the glaring issue, as I and Rachel Holliday Smith have reported, about how half the units are upper middle-income ones, with large quantities at 535 Carlton not taken in the lottery, because so few people applied, and because the cost of the units is significant.

Mangled math, and few applicants for middle-income units

I have an op-ed in City and State, Simplistic Math Mangles the Odds of Affordable Housing Lotteries, that points out that the chances within a lottery differ enormously, and middle-income applicants have a much better shot.

As I wrote, citing research first published in City Limits, only 2,203 applicants for 535 Carlton fit the preliminary income qualifications for 148 middle-income units. And, for the first time, I report that the numbers are even worse for 38 Sixth:
Indeed, another "100% affordable" building at Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is now opening, 38 Sixth Avenue, with a configuration similar to 535 Carlton: 152 of the 303 below-market units are designated for upper middle-income households, including one-bedrooms at $2,663 and two-bedrooms at $3,206.
I recently obtained the lottery log for that building: 89,704 households filed applications. Simple math, dividing 89,704 applicants by 303 apartments, suggests that the average applicant had a 1-in-296 chance of finding a home.
But averages are meaningless when it comes to such applications. My closer look shows that only 1,876 households fit the income guidelines for the 152 upper middle-income units. That's about a 1-in-12 chance, all before the applicants face full vetting, and the odds are even better for larger units.
Given the experience with 535 Carlton, it's a good bet that, as residents move in, many of those not-so-affordable apartments will be hard to fill.

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