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Report: East New York Rezoning An 'Engine For Displacement'

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More bad news for Mayor de Blasio's affordable housing agenda: the administration's plan to rezone East New York got a kick in the gut this week by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, whose office reports (PDF!) that some 50,000 East New York residents could face displacement under the neighborhood's proposed rezoning. Displacement is, in theory, something the rezoning would strive to avoid, but Stringer's analysis found that the affordable housing created by the rezoning would require 55-percent of neighborhood residents to pay more than 30 percent of their annual income in rent, rendering the apartments unaffordable by the city's guidelines.
According to Stringer's analysis, the affordable apartments created under the rezoning would be affordable to a family of three with an annual income of $46,620, which far exceeds the neighborhood's average median income of $32,815. In order for a family of three to live in a market-rate apartment created under the rezoning and spend no more than 30-percent of their annual income on rent, they would need to make $83,484.

Stringer's analysis (PDF!) also critiques the amount of affordable housing the rezoning would bring to the neighborhood. As things stand now, about 50,000 East New York residents live across 22,000 affordable apartments that aren't rent regulated (read: defended by the legal protections that come along with that designation) meaning that they're vulnerable to upward pressure on the market in the area. The rezoning would add 6,312 apartments to the neighborhood, of which 3,447 would be affordable and 1,742 would be set aside for East New York residents.

"For generations, East New York has been overlooked and under-resourced by the City in schools, parks, public transit, and affordable housing," Stringer said in a statement, "However, instead of strengthening the affordability of this community, the proposed rezoning would instead serve as an engine for displacement." Stringer recommends creating a special zoning district which would allow for added density, targeting the affordable housing levels to the community's annual median income rather than New York City's, and establishing stronger rules against harassment of existing tenants.

Affordable housing advocates have been rallying against de Blasio's East New York rezoning since it was unveiled in September. In addition to requiring mandatory inclusionary housing, which would require developers to build affordable apartments if they take advantage of certain tax incentives, the rezoning would bring new parks, bike lanes, and a 1,000-seat school to the neighborhood.

Stringer's analysis is not totally unexpected. Earlier this week, the Manhattan Borough Board voted against Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, and another proposal under the mayor's 10-year, $41 billion affordable housing plan, Housing New York, called Zoning for Quality and Affordable Housing, which would allow developers to build more inviting-looking, but taller buildings while not increasing their square footage. The vote made Manhattan the third borough to vote against the proposals.

[Image credit: "East New York" by MMZach. Original uploader was MMZach at en.wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Sreejithk2000 using CommonsHelper.(Original text : MMZach "I took this photo and release it under cc-by-sa."). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
· Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and the East New York Rezoning: An Analysis (PDF) [official]
· Affordable Housing Group Blasts East New York Rezoning [Curbed]
· Critics of Mayor De Blasio's Citywide Zoning Proposals Multiply [Curbed]
· East New York To Get More Affordable Housing [Curbed]
· All East New York Rezoning coverage [Curbed]
· All East New York coverage [Curbed]