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September 3, 2009

Bargaining for Brooklyn: insights into Vito Lopez's influence and how affordable housing lotteries work

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder adds Nicole Marwell's "Bargaining for Brooklyn: Community Organizations in the Entrepreneurial City" to his continuing education on all things Atlantic Yards:

[The book has] become surprisingly relevant to observers trying to understand political power in North Brooklyn and beyond, given the role of Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Vito Lopez.

Also, as I describe below, the book offers insight into the not always fair lotteries used to winnow applicants for affordable housing--an issue that should be on the Atlantic Yards radar screen.
Marwell also describes how housing lotteries work--an instructive example for those watching Atlantic Yards, given that, should affordable housing be built, it would be distributed via lottery.

(Actually, there might be multiple lotteries, or parts, given that half of the subsidized units would be reserved for residents of Community Boards, 2, 6, and 8, and ten percent of the total for seniors.)

Marwell writes that lotteries can be gamed somewhat--though, I suspect, given the intense publicity over Atlantic Yards, the chances would be lower.

Still, housing organization ACORN, partner with developer Forest City Ratner, would be under intense pressure from its members--the people who showed up, in many cases clueless and hopeful, at public hearings to tout the projects--to deliver the units to them, or at least to help position them for the best chance at such scarce housing.

Keep in mind that only 900 of the promised 2250 affordable units would be low-income (under 50% of Area Median Income, or about $35,000 for a four-person household), and that only a fraction of those units would be delivered in the first building or two.

Also note that even proponents, like former Empire State Development Corporation CEO Marisa Lago, have said it's highly unlikely that the project would be built in a decade, as officially promised, and that there's no evidence that there are sufficient affordable housing subsidies--or that the ESDC can require the timetable to be met.


Posted by lumi at September 3, 2009 6:44 AM