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Affordable housing is one of the hottest topics in the real estate market these days. It all started with Mayor de Blasio’s plan to preserve or build 200,000 affordable units over the next ten years, which has resulted in a slew of new lotteries for below-market rate apartments, putting his goal ahead of schedule. And let’s not forget the expiration of the controversial 421-a tax abatement, which provides incentives to developers when they reserve at least 20 percent of a building’s units for low- and moderate-income tenants. But despite the buzz-worthy roll affordable housing has been on, many are still left wondering what exactly it is.
Everything you need to know about affordable housing
Rendering via NYCHA
After over a year-long debate, the city has finally unveiled renderings of a mixed-income tower set to rise on an existing playground at the Holmes Towers public housing complex in Yorkville. The New York City Housing Authority’s plan, which falls under the city’s NextGen program, will construct a 47-story building among the complex on East 93rd Street, as well as a new 18,000-square-foot recreation and community center run by Asphalt Green (h/t DNA Info). The new building will feature 300 total units, with half of them at market-rate prices and half of them affordable. However, an alleged plan to separate the floors by income level, as well as the fact that high-end housing is coming to a low-income site where the community wasn’t consulted, has sparked a good deal of controversy.
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Mayor de Blasio and his administration have made progress in meeting their goal of building 200,000 affordable units over the span of a decade, as 21,963 new units were added in 2016, the most in 27 years. However, there continues to be a shortage in East Harlem. Out of the nearly 20,000 affordable units, the city brought to all five boroughs, just 249 units have been built in East Harlem, according to a new report by the Department of Housing and Preservation Development (HPD). To better accommodate these residents, the city plans on expediting the construction of 2,400 units of affordable housing over the next few years, as DNA Info reported.
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An investigation by Public Advocate Letitia James’ office found that nearly 40 percent, or 884, of the 2,322 apartments in the Tenant Interim Lease (TIL) program sit unoccupied. After hearing multiple complaints from constituents at town halls, the public advocate’s office launched a full review of the program and discovered it does not meet its goal of providing New Yorkers with self-sufficient, low-income rentals (h/t NY Post). Even more shocking, at one TIL building on 615 West 150th Street, tenants had to move out in 1996 for what was supposed to be a two-year renovation. Per a policy briefing by the public advocate, they still have not been able to return to the units, and their possessions are locked up without access.
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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.
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Ever walk by an area with park benches, plantings, or public art, and think that something’s missing… oh yeah, there’s no people. Though positive in theory, some urban public spaces don’t engage their communities and aren’t efficiently designed. To address this issue, the Design Trust for Public Space held a competition, The Energetic City: Connectivity in the Public Realm, that requested project proposals to seed and develop projects that redefine New York City’s public space. Four winning ideas were selected, and their implementation will begin immediately through a design prototype, pilot intervention, public artwork, and research, planning, or public outreach stages.
Check out the winning designs