Complaining about high rents is nothing new for New Yorkers, but we’re actually not alone in our misery. According to a new study from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and Enterprise Community Partners, reported in the Washington Post, “nearly 15 million [U.S.] households could be ‘severely cost-burdened’ by 2025, meaning they’ll be spending more than half their money on housing.” Today, that statistic applies to 11.2 million households (one in four households), which increased by three million since 2012.
Historic brownstones in Brooklyn Heights via City Realty
The war wages on between the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and citywide preservationists. Many thought the contention between the groups over whether or not historic districts lessen affordable housing was a personal sentiment of former REBNY president Steven Spinola. But his successor John Banks has released a new report that claims landmarking doesn’t protect affordable housing.
The report looks at the number of rent-stabilized units in landmarked and non-landmarked districts between 2007 and 2014, finding that “citywide, landmarked properties lost rent stabilized units (-22.5%) at a much higher rate (-5.1%) than non-landmarked properties.” Of course preservationists quickly fired back. Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) calls the study “bogus” and says it does nothing to address how many units would have been lost had these areas not been landmarked.
Yesterday, we reported that My Micro NY, the city’s first micro apartment complex, was accepting applications for its affordable units, which account for 22 of the building’s 55 studios. Located at 335 East 27th Street on the border of Gramercy and Kips Bay, the building has units that range in size from 260 to 360 square feet. One person earning between $34,526 and $48,350, or two people making between $34,526 and $55,250, qualify for a $950/month studio. And one person making between $53,109 and $78,650, or two people earning between $53,109 and $89,830, qualify for slightly larger $1,492/month studios. Hmm… is this really affordable, especially considering the tiny footprint of these micro dwellings? Tell us what you think and if you’d get in on the action.
Renderings via nARCHITECTS
We knew this day was quickly approaching; just a couple of months ago, we reported that My Micro NY (also known as Carmel Place), the city’s first micro apartment complex, was fully stacked, reaching its 120-foot height at 335 East 27th Street on the border of Gramercy and Kips Bay. Now, Brick Underground reports that the $17 million development began accepting applications this morning for its 260- to 360-square-foot affordable studios. According to the site, the available units are “11 $950/month studios for one person earning between $34,526 and $48,350, or two people making between $34,526 and $55,250; and three $1,492/month studios for one person making between $53,109 and $78,650, or two people making between $53,109 and $89,830.”
Recently on the Brian Lehrer radio show on WNYC, Mayor De Blasio addressed questions about the effects inclusionary development–i.e. giving developers the green light to build market rate housing if they set aside 25-30 percent of the units for low- and middle-income residents–has on the quality of life in lower-income neighborhoods. A growing concern among housing activists is that reliance on this kind of inclusionary zoning leads to gentrification that pushes out the lower income residents due to the 70-75 percent of market rate units bringing new, wealthy residents and new businesses that will cater to them.
Photo via Wiki Commons
According to a new report from the Daily News, for every affordable apartment offered through the city’s housing lotteries since 2013, there were 696 applicants, leaving you with a measly 0.14 percent chance of being selected. “All told, there were 2.9 million applications for 4,174 affordable units available from 72 lotteries run by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD),” says the News, yet another signifier that average New Yorkers are struggling to pay ever-increasing rents.
Photo courtesy of Airbnb via Facebook
As if it wasn’t challenging enough to find a reasonable apartment in New York City, Airbnb is now taking up 20 percent of available units in popular Manhattan and Brooklyn zip codes, reports the Daily News. According to a study from New York Communities for Change and Real Affordability For All, the East Village is the most affected, with 28 percent of its apartments being rented as illegal hotel rooms on Airbnb. Additionally, the 20 most popular neighborhoods on the room sharing site “have lost 10% of their available housing units to Airbnb.”
Construction has begun on the final building of the four-tower development on the western edge of Fort Greene. The 32-story tower at 86 Fleet Place will house 440 rental units and will be the culmination of a 15-year redevelopment of a low-slung, Robert Moses-era retail strip along Myrtle Avenue.
The developer of 86 Fleet, and three other sibling buildings to the east, is Red Apple Group’s CEO and owner John Catsimatidis, who we might better remember as the billionaire Republican candidate in the last mayoral election and the owner of the oft-maligned Gristedes grocery store chain. According to the Wall Street Journal, Red Apple picked up the 2.5-acre, four-block site for $500,000 from Long Island University in 1982. The site spans 900 feet along the southern frontage of Myrtle Avenue, between Flatbush Avenue Extension and Ashland Place, and shares its blocks with the Toren condominium to the west and the Fred Trump-built University Towers complex to the south.
At the end of last month, the Rent Guidelines Board voted to freeze rents for the first time on one-year leases for the city’s more than one million rent stabilized apartments, which make up about 47% of the city’s total rental units. They also increased rents on two-year leases by only two percent, the lowest in the board’s 46 years. While this historic ruling is a huge win for tenants, it doesn’t bring back the astonishing number of apartments that have been deregulated. Since 1994, nearly 250,000 units have lost rent regulation protections, and over these past eight years alone, New York City has lost more than 50,000 rent stabilized apartments.
To put that staggering number into perspective, cartographer John Krauss has put together a handy map that shows where all of these 50,000 apartments are located (h/t Gothamist). Using scraped tax bills, he plotted changes in the number of rent-stabilized units, building by building.
If you need more proof that there are some serious flaws with the 421-a program, once again, look no further than One57. As reported by the Journal, the super-luxe tower was the beneficiary of a whopping $65.6 million tax cut, an abatement granted in exchange for a paltry $5.9 million contribution to help cover the cost of 66 affordable apartments in the Bronx. That means your tax dollars subsidized apartments at nearly $1 million per unit—the highest known subsidy under the program—when affordable units on average cost a mere $179,000 apiece. It’s estimated that the generous cut could have provided for 367 affordable apartments. The findings came from the latest review by the city’s Independent Budget Office (IBO).