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February 14, 2007

Affordable housing: low income or below market--and neither

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder "mad overkills" Ratner's attorney over his improvised description of "affordable housing."

During the federal court hearing last Wednesday on the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case, Forest City Ratner attorney Jeffrey Braun, in answer to a question about the definition of "affordable housing," responded by saying "below market."

"We have a long history of public intervention in the housing market," he added, citing such programs as the Mitchell-Lama middle-income program, zoning incentives, and the city's plans to increase low-income units.

But "below market" was an imprecise description.

Affordable housing is more precisely described as subsidized housing which, for rentals at least, the rent is pegged at 30 percent of household income. (The affordable housing universe includes a much smaller fraction of subsidized for-sale units.)

Oder continues by explaining that the area median income figures used to formulate the Atlantic Yards housing plan are not relevant to the incomes of Brooklynites.

And here's one of the big myth busters about Atlantic Yards below-market subsidized housing:

Let's look at the Atlantic Yards housing chart. For the two higher-income bands, involving 900 units, two-person households would pay $1701 or $2127 per month for an apartment.

How does that compare to market rents nearby? I looked at the listings from the high-end Corcoran agency, checking off Boerum Hill, Fort Greene, Park Slope, and Prospect Heights, the neighborhoods closest to the project site (which would be mostly in Prospect Heights).

A sampling includes a Prospect Heights one-bedroom for $1395, a Fort Greene one-bedroom for $1400, a Park Slope one-bedroom for $1600, a Fort Greene studio for $1650, and a Boerum Hill one-bedroom for $1900.

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Posted by lumi at February 14, 2007 9:42 AM