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New building at Brooklyn Bridge Park, with middle-income emphasis, inspires cynicism about "affordable housing"

Eleven years ago, when Council Member de Blasio aimed at the 2009 Brooklyn Borough President race, he invited bloggers to a Park Slope coffee shop. Asked about affordable housing, he proposed a tiered approach, from the poorest, families under $20,000, to middle-income households.

Should those earning six figures get subsidized housing?

"Definitely below six figures," he responded.

Well, that's changed, partly because incomes have risen--leaving the truly needy even farther behind--and because lower-income units require more subsidy. Area Median Income (AMI), the base from which a percentage is applied--80% and lower is technically low-income--has risen: 100% of 2018 AMI is $104,300.

Consider the example of "100% affordable" 535 Carlton, with half the units for households earning up to 165% of AMI--affordable but tough to rent, with two months free on some leases--which de Blasio hailed.

At Brooklyn Bridge Park

Now come 100 new affordable units at 15 Bridge Park Drive in Brooklyn Bridge Park, plus 40 market-rate ones, but only 25 of 100 affordable units are technically low-income, and not so low-income at that: at 80% of AMI, that means studios start at $1,394, for individuals making nearly $48,000. (The low-income units at 535 Carlton are for households earning up to 40% and 60% of AMI.

Another 25 units are middle income units renting for 130% of AMI, while the other 50 are middle-income and renting for 165% of AMI: $2,947 for a studio, $3,157 for a one-bedroom, $3,797 for a two-bedroom, and $4,380 for a three-bedroom. The units will be rent-stabilized, but this is clearly not where the need is greatest.

As Curbed's Amy Plitt tweeted:
So yes, the city is building "affordable" housing, technically. But the skew towards the higher income brackets—who can likely afford market rate apartments anyway—is bizarre and shitty. (In this particular building, the most units are reserved for the upper-upper tier!)
Daily News editorial writer Alyssa Katz tweeted:
Mayor de Blasio forced Brooklyn Bridge Park development into public review that almost derailed construction in order to wedge in affordable housing...that is mostly affordable only to the upper middle class. To what end?
Revising the back story