Photo: Barry Pousman
NYC’s affordable housing crisis makes headlines daily, but while most are quick to point to the exploitation and mismanagement of existing apartments as the root of the cause (which to a great degree it most certainly is), the Washington Posts asks us to consider the effect single folks have on a city’s housing inventory.
Today, more and more folks are living longer and marrying later (if at all), and living alone at any given age no longer carries the stigma it once did decades ago. 26 percent of modern American households consist of just one person now, compared to the 1940s when this number topped out at just seven percent. While this dynamic shift seems more like a cause for celebration (yay, we’re evolving and defying convention) it does have some serious implications when it comes to available housing. “Our housing stock wasn’t built for a society full of singles,” says reporter Emily Badger.
more on the issue here
Poor doors be damned. It looks like the anger and public outcry swirling around Extell’s new 50 Riverside Boulevard condo didn’t do much to deter New Yorkers from vying for a low-income unit at the building. The Times reports that the development company received a whopping 88,000 applications for the building’s 55 affordable apartments after they opened up the lines back in February.
The overwhelming demand is most certainly a win for developer Gary Barnett, who found himself in the hot seat for creating a separate entrance for low-income tenants, away from the market-rate residents. When speaking to the paper, Barnett called the whole poor door ordeal a “made-up controversy” adding to that “I guess people like it. It shows that there’s a tremendous demand for high-quality affordable housing in beautiful neighborhoods.”
So do poor doors really matter?
Image: View Grand Concourse via photopin (license)
“Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning.” The infamous phrase, uttered in a 1977 broadcast of a Bronx fire, has stuck in the mind of many New Yorkers even today. Indeed, the Bronx saw a sharp decline in population and quality of life in the late 1960s and 1970s, which culminated in a wave of arson. By the early 1980s, the South Bronx was considered one of the most blighted neighborhoods in the country, with a 60 percent decline in population and 40 percent decline of housing units.
Although revitalization picked up by the ’90s, the Bronx never quite took off like its outer-borough counterparts Brooklyn and Queens. While media hype, quickly rising prices and a rush of development has come to characterize those two boroughs, the Bronx has flourished more quietly. The borough, nevertheless, has become home to growth and development distinct from the rest of New York City. Innovative affordable housing, adaptive reuse projects, green development and strong community involvement are redefining the area. As Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said during this Municipal Arts Society discussion in 2014, this is “The New Bronx.”
Keep Reading About What’s Going on in the Bronx
Clinton Hill rents may be skyrocketing, but there are a handful of units coming up sure to bring some peace of mind to those worried that the neighborhood is turning into another haven for the rich. DNA Info reports that a brand new building coming up at 490 Myrtle Avenue at Hall Street that will boast a terrace, veggie garden, reflecting pools with cabanas and $1,064 two-bedroom apartments. The building is sited along one of the more rapidly gentrifying areas of the neighborhood, just a block away from the Pratt Institute along a stretch of Myrtle Avenue that is about to see a serious boom in new developments and green space.
Find out more here and if you qualify for one of the units
The city and the hotel industry have been waging war against Airbnb since last September in an effort to both preserve affordable housing and to protect hotel operators throughout the city. Though millions of dollars have been spent by both parties campaigning for change, apart from a couple of rulings ousting affordable renters for putting their apartments on the home-sharing site, not much has changed. Airbnb has failed to sway lawmakers, and the group leading the anti-Airbnb movement, ShareBetter, has only kept Airbnb from changing a state law that prohibits tenants in buildings with three or more units from renting out their home for short stays. In fact, according to Crain’s, Airbnb is thriving in NYC with now more than 27,000 rooms and apartments on its site.
Find out more here
The revitalization of East New York is at the center of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan, but like his ambitious Sunnyside Yards project, his ideas for the fallen areas of Brooklyn are apparently also filled with holes. According to a piece published by the Wall Street Journal yesterday, de Blasio’s plan to re-zone 15 neighborhoods to allow for taller and denser housing won’t do much good for affordable housing. The main reason? The rents are too low. In fact, housing experts believe that his plan is more likely to hurt the character of Brooklyn’s most tony areas, including Park Slope, Fort Greene, and Crown Heights, amongst many others.
More on their findings here
Image by Jorbasa Fotografie / Flickr
In New York City there are currently about one million rent stabilized apartments–about 47 percent of the city’s rental units. So why is it so hard to snag one? What are the benefits of having one (other than affordable rent, of course)? According to the New York City Rent Guidelines Board nearly 250,000 rental units have lost the protections of rent regulation since 1994. Why are we “losing” so many of them?
Find out the facts and how they could affect you
Brooklyn’s Pacific Park development, one of the pipeline projects examined in the report for it’s affordable housing offer. Rendering by COOKFOX
This morning the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) released a report today saying if the city fails to renew the existing 421-a partial tax exemption program, we could stand to lose thousands of affordable units. REBNY took a look at a sample of projects in the pipeline—including Essex Crossing, 5Pointz, Domino and Pacific Park, amongst others—and found that 421-a is responsible for 5,484 affordable apartments and 13,801 market-rate units in these developments. They argue that without the abatement the theses units would be in jeopardy and be “immediately be sent back to the drawing board.” They add that some of the units could even end up as high-end luxury condominiums and some of the middle- and low-income housing now in the works would be lost forever.
Find out more
On the surface it sounds like a great idea: Adjust zoning regulations to better accommodate the Mayor’s goal of preserving and creating 200,000 units of affordable housing. But some are angered that the proposal would lift current zoning protections and height limits by as much as 20 to 30 percent.
According to the Department of City Planning, the newly released plan, called Housing New York: Zoning for Quality and Affordability, addresses the city’s outdated zoning regulations that don’t reflect today’s housing needs or construction practices. However, an email from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation asserts: “The proposal would change the rules for ‘contextual’ zoning districts throughout the city–zoning districts which communities frequently fought hard to secure, to limit the height of new development and keep it in character with the surrounding neighborhood.”
More information ahead
Let’s face it, we all feel that we’re paying too much for our tiny NYC apartments, and while for most of us that’s just the name of the game, for others who are living in a rent-stabilized unit but being charged market-rate rent, it’s actually true. Want to know if you fall into that boat? A new website called amirentstabilized.com will help you find out.
The site allows renters to search their building to see if it’s on the city’s list of addresses with rent stabilized units. Unfortunately, it can’t tell you if your specific apartment is one of them, but it’s a great first step and provides resources for confirming your unit’s status, as well as filing a complaint if you’re being overcharged.
Find out more here