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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/what's coming/what's missing, who's responsible, + project FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

Projections vs. reality: middle-income emphasis means Atlantic Yards off-track to meet promised allocation of low- and moderate-income affordable apartments

Given what we now know about the middle-income housing, without any community preference, at the next two Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park towers (and likely two more after that), let's look at the promises and the reality of the project's affordable housing

Crucially, with 876 more affordable units required to be built beyond those already under construction, it seems impossible to deliver on the project's promise of mixed-income affordable housing, at least within the 4,500 rentals promised.

The deficit is too large: 646 more low-income units and 385 more moderate-income units, for a total of 1,031. Only if some of the projected 1,652 condominiums are shifted to rentals (or affordable condos) could the project possibly get back on track. 

But low- and moderate-income units, however promised, are not required, given that the guiding Development Agreement does not reflect the initial promises but allows crucial slack, defining affordable housing as participating in a government regulatory program.

Those units, crucially, were supposed to fight gentrification, but the longer they're delayed, the less likely they reach the needy, since the income floor for low-income units rises steadily along with rising regional Area Median Income, or AMI. 

Also, without an extra push or subsidies from the city and state, it seems likely that most if not all of the future affordable units will be middle-income ones aimed at households earning six figures, such as two-bedroom units renting for more than $3,200, rather under $1,000

Currently, 100% of AMI for a four-person household is $119,300, with commensurate discounts for smaller households. B4 (18 Sixth) and B15 (662 Pacific), have 30% affordable units aimed at middle-income households earning 130% of AMI. For a four-person household, 130% of AMI is $155,090.

For a one-person household, 130% of AMI is $108,680, but, as I wrote, the rents are set below the maximum, and people with far less income are eligible.

So maybe they're "middle-income lite," at least for the studios, since the two-bedrooms have a much lesser discount.

To quote a recent land-use recommendation, on 840 Atlantic Ave., from Borough President Eric Adams, "much of the anticipated affordable housing in the Pacific Park development will be geared toward AMIs greater than 100 percent." (I'm not sure if that's inside information or, more likely, informed speculation.)

Middle-income emphasis

Meanwhile, as shown in the chart, there should by 2023 be a total of 1,054 units of middle-income housing, though only 900 were supposed to be built. While such households surely appreciate a reasonable deal on rent, they were not the ones who marched for the project.

This assumes the 240 apartments under construction at the B12/B13 (615 Dean/595 Dean) sites will, like those at B4 and B15, have 30% affordable units aimed at middle-income households earning 130% of AMI.

After all, if these buildings promised more affordability than B15 and B4, likely we would've been told. (If one-third of the affordable units were low-income, under Option B, that would add 80 such apartments. That still wouldn't solve the deficit among low- and moderate-income units.) 

About the MOU

MOU means the 2005 Affordable Housing Memorandum of Understanding, signed by original developer Forest City Ratner and the advocacy group ACORN, that promised--not so solidly, a range of income "bands," two low-income, one moderate-income, and two middle-income at various percentages of AMI.

Note that the percentages on the page below are based on the overall 4,500 rental apartments, not the 2,250 affordable units.