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From CommonEdge: How Atlantic Yards Failed to Deliver Affordable Homeownership (With a Hakeem Jeffries Cameo)

I have an essay in CommonEdge today, How Atlantic Yards Failed to Deliver Affordable Homeownership (With a Hakeem Jeffries Cameo).

From the lead:
U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ inaugural address to colleagues in the early morning hours of Saturday, January 7, showed that the Brooklyn politician, the Democrats’ first Black leader in the House, should be a public fixture for years. While commentators hailed Jeffries’ tour-de-force A–Z passage contrasting Democrats and Republicans, what struck me most occurred in the last third of the speech, when Jeffries stated, “So on this first day, let us commit to the American Dream … if you work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to provide a comfortable living for yourself and for your family, educate your children, purchase a home, and one day retire with grace and dignity.”

An unsurprising list? Well, the reference to “purchase a home” reminded me of one of Jeffries’ first political victories, achieved in 2006 when he was about to assume elected office for the first time, as a New York State Assembly member.

It was a political victory, not a policy one, since the promise he received of lower-cost homes for purchase in Brooklyn’s controversial Atlantic Yards development project has not come to fruition more than 16 years later. The lesson, for observers of development battles, is that promises must be backed up in contracts, otherwise economic and political cycles can undermine them.

Also, as I write, elected officials need to keep the heat on. For the rest of the essay, go here.