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If you’ve ever applied for affordable housing in New York City, you’ll know that it is all about the area median income, or the AMI. If you make too little or too much, you won’t qualify at all for affordable housing. Even if you do qualify, however, your AMI will impact your likelihood of actually acquiring a unit since most buildings have more units available in some AMI bands than others. For most New Yorkers, this is one of the most confusing aspects of affordable housing, so we’ve broken it down, from how AMI is calculated and what the current NYC parameters are to the many controversies surrounding the guidelines.
Everything you need to know
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Can anyone, at any income level, justify and sustain paying 80+ percent of their income on rent? Obviously not. According to the Housing and Urban Development website, “If a household pays more more than 30 percent of its gross income on rent and utilities it is considered rent-burdened.” Despite HUD’s claim, amNY highlighted two NYC renters in Section 8 housing who spend over 80 percent of their income on rent. The housing policies peg their rent to their income. Robert Rodriguez, who has lived in his Upper West Side apartment for 41 years and filed a lawsuit last June against the city, now pays a whopping 86 percent of his income in rent. Adding to the problems, on Wednesday HUD Secretary Ben Carson proposed massive changes, which would triple rent for the poorest households and make it easier for housing authorities to impose work requirements.
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While the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) continues to sidle away from its job of preventing housing discrimination, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) in partnership with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) have stepped up with a comprehensive fair housing planning process to head off segregation in New York City. The city announced today the launch of Where We Live NYC, a fair housing plan to fight segregation and unequal access. The plan outlines a process to study, understand, and address patterns of residential segregation and how these patterns impact access to opportunity, including jobs, education, safety, public transit and health. The plan will include extensive community participation and provide data and policy analysis that will culminate in the release of a public report that outlines measurable goals and strategies for fostering inclusive communities, promoting fair housing and increasing access to opportunity.
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President Trump appointed family friend Lynne Patton on Wednesday to oversee New York’s federal housing programs, despite her clear lack of housing experience. Patton, who formerly arranged tournaments at Trump’s golf courses and planned Eric Trump’s wedding, will head up the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Region II, which includes New York and New Jersey, and will oversee the distribution of billions of taxpayer dollars. As reported by the Daily News, Patton’s relationship with the Trump family dates back to 2009 when she first began as their event planner.
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Just two days after newly appointed Secretary of HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) Ben Carson went along with plans to cut federal funding to NYCHA by at least $35 million, the Trump administration is reportedly considering decreasing HUD’s total budget by a staggering $6 billion, or 14 percent, according to a leaked budget draft obtained by the Washington Post. Though it’s not clear how the cuts will affect NYC specifically, previous estimates said cuts to NYCHA’s federal aid could easily balloon to $150 million this year, and Mayor de Blasio was already weighing his options for how to deal with the blow. The Wall Street Journal reports that he said yesterday he plans to put aside city money to help fill the gap, but if the city is “cut on many, many fronts simultaneously,” there won’t be enough to cover the loss in federal funding.
What happens next?
Retired neurosurgeon and failed Republican presidential nominee Dr. Ben Carson is officially the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which will put him in charge of 8,000 federal employees and an agency with a $47 billion budget, tasked with overseeing most of the nation’s affordable and public housing, enforcing fair housing laws, and providing low-income persons with mortgage insurance. The senate voted yesterday 58-41 to confirm his appointment; the relative lack of Democratic pushback was surprising considering Carson not only has no political experience, but no apparent knowledge of housing, development, or urban issues. Likely with this in mind, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has already extended an invitation for Carson to come tour the city’s housing developments.
What’s next for HUD?
There’s been lots of chatter on the street and in the media on the subject of “poor doors” in new developments for those who have qualified for affordable housing. And though this subject has created quite a bit of controversy, it’s actually not quite what it seems. Rather than being outraged that our city allows real estate developers to “discriminate” against those who could never consider paying for the privilege of residing in their latest and greatest luxury building, naysayers should think about reading up on exactly what affordable housing is and isn’t—“rich” home seekers having an edge over the so-called “poor.”
We look at 80/20 and the ‘poor door’ controversy here