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

Housing lottery opens for 662 Pacific St. (Plank Road, or B15); middle-income max (130% of AMI) but wide range & below-max rent (studios $1,537), though still not for neediest; no more 50% preference for locals

Plank Road (662 Pacific St., aka B15) has not only opened to market-rate tenants, it has finally hit the city's Housing Connect portal, with the affordable housing lottery ending on Jan. 18, 2022. Given time for processing, that suggests move-ins won't start for a few months after that. That's a significant delay.

The 94 units all have a maximum income of 130% of Area Median Income (AMI), or middle-income, as I've long suspected (and had been established for the catercorner 18 Sixth Ave., B2, or Brooklyn Crossing).

In what may be a recognition of the market, they have lower rents than required--much lower for studios ($1,547), and somewhat lower for one-bedrooms ($2,273) and two-bedrooms ($3,219). Still, none of those would serve those who most fervently hoped for affordable housing in the project.

The units have washers and dryers, and the building has amenities--all for a fee including "Gymnasium/ State of the art Gym, Children's playroom, Recreation Room/ Resident lounge, Outdoor Areas/ Landscaped terrace, BBQ area and kitchenette, Rooftop Terrace and Pool area."

The developers (and Empire State Development) have remained mum about AMI/rent levels, despite questions. (Expect more info at tomorrow's Quality of Life meeting.)

High ceiling, lower rents

As with some other buildings similarly with that 130% of AMI maximum (under the Affordable New York tax break), the income levels are broad and the rent levels, at least for the smallest units, are well below what could be sought.

That means that some residents could be paying well below 30% of their income, which is the benchmark for "affordable."


For example, rents for studios are $1,547/month, not the potential $2,263, as seen in the chart below, from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Rents for one-bedrooms are $2,273, not the allowable $2,838. Rents for two-bedrooms are $3,219, not the allowable $3,397.

Those discounts are very inconsistent. For studios, that $716 reduction is a 31.6% discount off the maximum. For one-bedrooms, that $565 reduction is a 19.9% discount. For two bedrooms, that $178 reduction is just a 5.2% discount.


That's apparently a recognition that it is less likely to get units rented at the allowable rents. But I'll ask why the inconsistency, and whether it is possible to later raise rents to the potential ceiling. See below for some more analysis of the incomes and rents.

No community preference?

Notably, unlike with the three previous buildings containing affordable housing, in which 50% of the units were set aside for those from the four local Community Districts, there's no community preference--even though that was long promised by the developers, the city, and Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project.

See for example from the Socioeconomic Conditions chapter of the June 2014 Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement:
In addition, for Building 2 (presently under construction), the project sponsors have informed ESD that they intend to submit an affordable housing marketing plan to HPD that would provide for a community preference for residents of Community Districts 2, 3, 6, and 8, and also intend to include a community preference in the affordable housing marketing plan for future buildings.
This requirement apparently was discarded in the 421-a revision in 2017, as Gothamist reported. Though Crain's suggested (according to Gothamist) that HPD "could still make their own rules about community preference under 421-a," a mayoral spokesperson dodged the question but said that the city would "continue to use the community preference as a critical anti-displacement measure in the affordable housing development that the City is financing at record pace."

Indeed, a look at the city's housing lottery portal shows that various NYC-financed buildings do contain the preference, while buildings relying solely on the 421-a tax break do not.

Interestingly enough, some 421-a buildings--as well as the NYC-financed buildings--contain set-asides for those with hearing/vision or mobility issues, but Plank Road does not, at least according to the notice.

The Housing Connect notice for 662 Pacific St. states that "Applicants who live in New York City receive a general preference for apartments," but that preference is not detailed.
Drilling down on income and rents

Let's try to analyze the units at Plank Road a little more, recognizing the differences among the unit sizes.

For example, income eligibility for studios ranges from $53,040 which is about 65% of AMI, to $108,680, or 130% of AMI. That means that those at the top of the scale--as detailed below--get a great deal, since they're paying well below 30% of their income.

For one-bedroom units, income eligiblity for one person ranges from $77,932, which is more than 90% of AMI, to $108,680, which is 130% of AMI.  For two people, the income range is from $77,932, which is a little more than 80% of AMI, to $124,150, which is 130% of AMI. 

For three people--presumably including a small child, not a third earner--the income range is from $77,932, or more than 70% of AMI, to $139,620, which is 130% of AMI.


For two-bedroom units, income eligiblity for two people ranges from $110,366, which is about 115% of AMI, to $124,150, which is 130% of AMI.  For three people, the income range is from $110,366, which is a little more than 100% of AMI, to $139,620, which is 130% of AMI. 

For four people, the income range is from $110,366, or more than 90% of AMI, to $155,090, which is 130% of AMI. For five people, the income range is from from $110,366, or more than 85% of AMI, to $167,570, which is 130% of AMI.

Who's paying 30%--or more/less, for studios?

Let's do some more math. The $1,547 rent level for studios is $18,564 a year. That's 35% of a $53,040 income, the lowest eligible, but 17.1% of $108,680 (the max for one person) and 15% of $124,150 (the max for two).

It's 30% of $61,880, which is a little under 75% of AMI for one person and about 65% of AMI for two people. Note that 80% of AMI counts as "low-income" under city guidelines, though that's hardly targeting the neediest. Nearly half of Brooklyn households have incomes below $60,000.

The maximum allowable rent level, $2,263, represents an annual payment of $27,156, which is 30% of $90,520, So those with higher incomes would pay a lower percentage: that $27,156 represents 25% of $108,680 and  21.9% of $124,150. In other words, those at the max level would get a bargain even at the maximum allowable rent level.

Who's paying 30%--or more/less, for 1-BRs?

The $2,273 rent level for one-bedrooms is $27,276 a year, or 35% of $77,932 and 25.1% of $108,680 and 22% of $124,150, and just 19.5% of $139,620.

That total is 30% of $90,920, which is a little less than 110% of AMI for one person, about 95% of AMI for two people, and about 85% of AMI for three people. 

The maximum allowable rent level, $2,838, represents an annual payment of $34,056, which is 30% of $113,520. So those with higher incomes, at least with larger households, would still pay a lower percentage: that $34,056 represents 31.5% of $108,680, 27.4% of $124,150, and 24.4% of $139,620.


Who's paying 30%--or more/less, for 2-BRs?

The $3,219 rent level for two-bedrooms is $38,628 year, or 35% of $110,366 and 31.1% of $124,150, 27.7% of $139,620, 24.9% of $155,090, and 23.1% of $167,570.

That total is 30% of $128,760, which is more than 130% of AMI for two people, about 120% of AMI for three people, nearly 110% of AMI for four people, and about 100% of AMI for five people/

The maximum allowable rent level, $3,397, represents an annual payment of $39,564, which is 30% of $131,880. So those with higher incomes, at least with larger households, would still pay a lower percentage: that $39,564 represents 31.9% of $124,150, 28.3% of $139,620, 25.5% of $155,090, and 23.6% of $167,570.

Comments

  1. What a dam shame, making these units for the higher incomes, well I guess that's the end of low income units being built there at Pacific park, in general, what a dam shame and shame on Democrats and Republicans to allow this to happen, in these resources neighborhoods, thanks Mr norman for the info, next stop for me probably be NJ, iam out

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