New York City public advocate and Democratic mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio added his voice to a growing chorus of commentators (including The Observer) who have noted similarities between Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s affordable housing platform, announced in her State of the City address earlier this week, and a plan proposed by the real estate industry in 2011. The proposal would cap property taxes for whole buildings if they agreed to set aside a certain percentage of their units to let at below-market rate rents. Read More
Affordable Housing or Lack Thereof
Speaker Quinn Vows to Keep Park Slope and Carroll Gardens from Becoming ‘Luxury’ In State of the City
In her 2013 State of the City speech, City Council Speaker and Democratic mayoral frontrunner Christine Quinn focused on housing affordability—namely middle-class housing.
Ms. Quinn’s headline proposal is to “build 40,000 new middle-income affordable apartments over ten years.” It’s unclear what definition of “middle-income” she would use, but the Middle Class Squeeze report that she released earlier today defines middle class as “households with incomes between 100 percent and 300 percent of area median income.” Read More
As Sandy Creates Thousands of New Homeless, Advocates Draw Attention to Those Suffering Before the Storm
The winds of Hurricane Sandy caused massive damage to the New York area when it made landfall at the end of October. But the gusts of the superstorm blew more than just debris, dislodging New Yorkers from their homes and into a constellation of already full shelters. Yet in spite of the issue of overcrowding both before or after the storm, there may actually be large amounts of space to house people in the city.
Hoping to capitalize on the renewed awareness of homelessness and the dire situation in the city’s shelters, advocacy group Picture the Homelesss and a number of its allies held a rally Friday morning in Harlem to draw new attention to its regular reports on vacant properties in the city. Picture the Homeless has long argued that landlords across the city have left properties vacant while they wait for property values and rents to rise. The practice, known as warehousing, is legal, but it robs the city of precious living space at the same time.
“If you were able to pull out the money for Sandy, you were able to pull out the money before Sandy,” Raul Rodriguez, an organizer with Picture the Homeless, declared, criticizing the city’s failure to capitalize on rundown properties. Read More
Usually, living down by the tracks is bad thing, but after looking at the renderings of an affordable apartment complex in East New York, all we could think was, “how can we sign up?”
Dunn Development Corp. will develop four buildings in East New York, the department of Housing Preservation and Development recently announced, an announcement that came with some lovely colored renderings of the project. The developments, collectively known as Livonia Commons, will include 270 new units of low-income housing as well as 11,000 square-feet of ground floor retail space. Read More
Late last week, a new 48-unit affordable housing development opened at 926 Madison Street in Bed-Stuy, Brownstoner reports—which is good news for residents in a once-rough neighborhood where the locals’ biggest fear is now likely rising rents.
Rents in the Brooklyn neighborhood went up 6.5 percent between April and May of this year; the neighborhood has seen steadily rising rents since the beginning of the year. Read More
Last Friday morning, Felix Guzman woke up early, grabbed his fishing pole, and headed over to the East River for some catch and release fun. For 40 years he has lived in the same building on Academy Street in Inwood and in that time he has “seen a lot.” So when he got back to his apartment around 11 am and saw that his street was teaming with newscasters, elected officials, cameramen, and local community members, he wasn’t surprised. They’d been there before. “It’s always been tough here,” Mr. Guzman said. “I’m glad they’re doing something about it.”
The building in question was 552 Academy Street, a crumbling 72-unit brick building located across the street from Mr. Guzman’s apartment. A year ago he had stood outside and watched as dozens of tenants dragged their belongings onto the sidewalk, confused and frightened and wondering where they would relocate to next.
The building, the city told them, was unsafe, which was why they had to vacate the premises. Although Mr. Guzman had never been inside, he heard rumors that at times the units lacked gas, running water, and electricity. “This is what happens when you get these slumlords and all they care about is the money,” Mr. Guzman said, referring to the building’s landlord, Rachel Arfa, whom the City blames for the hazardous conditions. Read More
Finally, You Can Apply for That Affordable Housing Lottery Online (Though It’s Still Just as Hard to Get In)
“We’ve been doing it the same way since before we had email,” affordable housing developer Martin Dunn lamented, speaking to The Observer about the grueling process through which New Yorkers have historically had to apply for subsidized housing in the city.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn put it even more starkly in her 2011 State of the City address, when she called on the Bloomberg administration to find a way to digitize and streamline the process: “In a 21st century world—where you can do everything online—we still make people apply for housing using 18th century technology.”
It used to house cast offs from some of the city’s oldest buildings, but soon it could house low-income New Yorkers.
The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development is seeking a developer to turn a Williamsburg warehouse that served as storage for the Landmarks Preservation Commission into an affordable housing development with 50 apartments. The development, at 337 Berry Street, sits on a 15,000-square-foot lot and calls for commercial or community space on the ground floor, as well as about 1,200 square feet of open space for residents.
The views are not too bad, looking out on the Williamsburg Bridge and Manhattan, though the rumble of the J-Train just might intrude on the apartments, as well, barring some good windows. Read More
If you aren’t comfortable living in a church, that’s fine. But what about a library?
The Municipal Arts Society is leading the conversation on converting public libraries into apartment buildings, the Real Deal reports. President Vin Cipolla noted that the change in technology (read: Kindles and iPads) will lead to under-used, or even unused, library spaces. Read More
We know from Michael Kimmelman’s premiere review in The Times that Via Verde, the affordable housing complex in the South Bronx, is just about the best thing since humans decided to stop living in caves. It turns out it is not just a new model for mixed-income housing, and a pretty one at that, but also a great place to live. Read More