New bill would calculate AMI for affordable housing based on zip code, not region

Posted On Tue, February 21, 2017 By

Posted On Tue, February 21, 2017 By In affordable housing, Policy

To set qualification guidelines for its affordable housing lotteries, the city turns to the set area median income (AMI), basing annual household income and rents off this figure. However, as The Real Deal explains, “the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development calculates AMI regionally, “using a formula that lumps the five boroughs together with Putnam, Westchester, and Rockland counties.” For 2016, this equated to $65,200 for a single person and $90,600 for a family of four, but a new bill proposed by Democratic State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Brian Barnwell would require developers of new 421-a projects to calculate AMI based on the specific zip code in which the building is going up.

Barnwell explained, “It shouldn’t matter what is affordable in Westchester to determine what is affordable in Queens. This proposal will help lifelong residents of the area to be better able to actually afford the new housing. No longer will lifelong residents be forced out due to gentrification.”

The proposed bill would not pertain to current 421-a projects, but those future projects under Cuomo’s revised version of the tax incentive program Affordable New York. Under this revision, “rental buildings with 300 or more units–in Manhattan south of 96th Street and in Brooklyn and Queens’ Community Boards 1 and 2 one mile from the East River–that reserve at least 20 percent of units as affordable for 40 years will be eligible for tax credits for 35 years,” as 6sqft previously explained. It also specifies six different affordability options, ranging from 40 percent to 130 percent of the AMI, of which some elected officials have been critical, claiming that the higher percentages are not adequately affordable. By tailoring the AMI to zip codes, however, this could be less of an issue.

[Via TRD]

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