Affordable housing lotteries fail low-income residents and favor middle-income earners, says new report

Posted On Thu, April 20, 2017 By

Posted On Thu, April 20, 2017 By In affordable housing, Brooklyn, Policy

In every state and major city in the country, extremely low-income renters face a shortage of affordable housing. Although low-income applicants in New York City display a higher need for affordable housing, policies created by Mayor de Blasio and his administration continue to set aside more units for middle-income applicants. In a detailed report, City Limits analyzed affordable housing in Brooklyn and compared the need for affordable housing to the actual number of allotted low-income and middle-income units. For just one building, the tower at 535 Carlton, nearly 95,000 households entered the lottery for its “100 percent affordable” units. However, only 2,203 applicants were eligible for the 148 middle-income units, and over 67,000 households applied for the 90 low-income units. The data shows low-income households in search of affordable housing face much tougher odds than middle-income applicants.

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As part of the $4.9 billion Pacific Park Brooklyn complex, the middle-income units at 535 Carlton in Prospect Heights, housing designed by COOKFOX architects, range from one-bedrooms renting for $2,680 monthly and two-bedrooms at $3,223, which are deemed affordable for those earning six figures. For those seeking rents set at approximately 30 percent of household income, there were 44 units in the building’s other middle-income category, for which 4,609 households applied. These include one-bedrooms at $2,170 and two-bedrooms at $2,611. About 18,680 households applied for the 15-moderate-income units, with seven one-bedrooms asking $1,320 per month.

The vast majority of applicants were in pursuit of the 90 low-income units at 535 Carlton, with 72 percent of the applicant pool applying for them. In this income band, one-bedrooms are priced at $589 and $929, for singles earning $21,566 to $25,400 and $33,223 to $38,100, respectively. A large number of these applicants were deemed ineligible because their incomes were too low or their incomes were between the two low-income bands. Plus, as part of a new policy, 15 low-income units will be distributed separately from the lottery, set aside for homeless households.

While residents of all income brackets look for affordable apartments, there seems to be a disconnect between what apartments the community can afford and what type of apartments are actually distributed. Both 535 Carlton and 38 Sixth, an affordable housing project that’s near completion, have 50 percent upper-middle-income apartments, with rents at 160 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). Despite setting aside half of 535 Carlton’s units for residents from surrounding Community Districts, the 111 applicants that matched that preference only had a one-in-five chance of getting one of the 22 apartments. On the other hand, middle-class income households are eligible for two-thirds of the units at 535 Carlton and 38 Sixth, despite this income bracket representing less than 10 percent of the city’s total population.

[Via City Limits]


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