Photo via Wiki Commons
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
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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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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In New York City, and the rest of the country, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find affordable housing. To combat this, the Habitat for Humanity NYC announced a plan to build affordable houses for buyers in Brooklyn and Queens. The organization, aimed at constructing quality housing for families in need, will bring 48 units of affordable homes to these boroughs by redeveloping abandoned or foreclosed properties. Since most of these homes have been left vacant for decades, many are run-down and have negatively impacted the surrounding neighborhoods. As Brick Underground learned, the city’s Housing Authority first acquired these properties and then sold them to Habitat for Humanity at $1 each.
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When Superstorm Sandy hit the community of Red Hook, thousands of residents were left without power and basic necessities for over two weeks. The neighborhood’s infrastructure suffered substantial damage, with almost all basement mechanical rooms destroyed. In an effort to rebuild Brooklyn’s largest housing development, Red Hook Houses, post-Sandy, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) commissioned a project by architecture firm Kohn Pederson Fox (KPF). Their “Lily Pad” design includes installing 14 “utility pods” that deliver heat and electricity to each building, as well as creating raised earth mounds to act as a flood barrier (h/t Archpaper).
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Rendering of Mill Brook Terrace courtesy of NYCHA
As part of the New York City Housing Authority’s NextGen initiative–the controversial policy of partnering with private companies to develop housing on open space in existing public housing projects–an affordable senior development is coming to the South Bronx. As reported by NY Yimby, Mill Brook Terrace in Mott Haven will be a nine-story, 169-unit building at 570 East 137th Street and will be set aside for seniors who earn no more than 50 percent of the area media income, or less than $36,250. Designed by Perkins Eastman Architects, the building will include a 9,000-square-foot senior center on the ground floor, which will include a commercial kitchen, community space, activity room and an outdoor garden.
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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.
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Just a day after Ben Carson‘s confirmation as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) last week, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) penned a letter not only inviting him to tour the city’s public housing stock (the largest in the country) but urging him not to support budget cuts that would ultimately affect its 400,000 residents. Roughly $2 billion of NYCHA‘s total $3.2 billion operating budget comes from HUD funding, which is immediately needed for the thousands of apartments in dire need of repairs. But their worst fears have come true, as the Wall Street Journal confirms that Trump’s first budget cuts geared towards the city reduce NYCHA’s support by $35 million, the agency’s largest decrease in federal aid in five years, and this figure could very well grow to an unprecedented $150 million.
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?
, Mon, September 19, 2016
Google Street View of the Holmes Towers with the playground in question in the foreground
This past spring, the de Blasio administration revealed plans to lease “empty” NYCHA land–parking lots and grassy areas–for the creation of market-rate housing, which certainly ruffled the feathers of affordable housing advocates. Though the proposal hasn’t been set into motion city-wide, it is taking shape at one housing project on the Upper East Side, the Holmes Towers on 92nd to 93rd Streets and 1st to York Avenues. As the Daily News reports, NYCHA recently “described tenant support for the plan to let a developer build 300 units — half market rate, half affordable — where the Holmes playground now sits.” But this “tenant stakeholder committee” says they feel very differently.