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Affordable Housing Group Blasts East New York Rezoning Plans

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On Monday, the city rolled out its official plans for rezoning East New York, which has been eyed as the locus for Mayor de Blasio's ambitious $10 billion affordable housing initiative, Housing New York, practically since it was announced in May 2014. In addition to bringing new parks, bike lanes, and a 1,000-seat school to the neighborhood, the administration wants to implement mandatory inclusionary zoning, which would require all developers looking to build within its boundaries to set aside at least 25-percent of apartments as affordable. The plan has its fair share of detractors: community group Real Affordability For All lambasts the program as a failure for those who most need it. "Most residents in low-income neighborhoods like East New York and the South Bronx, which are slated for increased density and rezoning within the next year, will not benefit from new housing created under de Blasio's current plan," a report released in sync with the administration's announcement reads. "New housing promoted as affordable in these areas will be too expensive and out of reach for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who live there."
According to the Times, de Blasio's mandatory inclusionary zoning plans are broken down into three options. In the first option, developers would have to make at least 25 percent of apartments permanently affordable to households with earnings averaging 60 percent of the area's median income, or $46,620 for a family of three. The second option would require developers to make at least 30 percent of apartments permanently affordable to households with earnings averaging 80 percent of the area's median income, or $62,150 for a family of three. The third option would let developers allocate 30 percent of apartments to households making 120 percent of the area's median income, or over $93,000 a year, but under that plan developers would not be eligible for city subsidies. Housing is considered affordable when a household spends 30 percent or less of their income on it.

Even with the additional building density and mandatory inclusionary zoning, the plan is only expected to hatch about 1,200 apartments in East New York. The plan has garnered a commitment from NYC Housing Preservation and Development, who will finance 1,200 affordable units in the neighborhood within the first two years of rezoning. Of those 1,200 apartments, 80 percent will be available to residents earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income, or $46,000. Real Affordability For All identifies about 700,000 New Yorkers citywide who make 50 percent of area median income or less, meaning that the initiative may not help out some of the neediest New Yorkers. "New so-called affordable housing will overwhelmingly go to wealthier, whiter outsiders—people who come from other neighborhoods," Real Affordability For All's report continues, " Instead of limiting gentrification and displacement, de Blasio's mandatory inclusionary zoning plan will likely accelerate them."

There are a few uncertains surrounding the rezoning that will determine whether or not the group's prediction for the neighborhood comes to fruition. Whether or not developers flock to the neighborhood for its additional height and density is still up in the air. With the so-called "poor door" verboten in new buildings, developers will have to get more creative about how they divide entrances and amenities for affordable- and market-rate tenants. REBNY, who was embroiled in its own subsidized housing scandal last week, is looking into whether the plan will amp up affordable housing production.

The plan is the first in many steps that will attempt to bring some 80,000 new affordable units to the city by 2024.
· New York Zoning Plan Requires More Affordable Homes [NYT]
· De Blasio's East New York Rezoning Plans Not Affordable Enough, Group Says in New Report ['Stoner]
· Real Affordable Communities: Mayor De Blasio and the Future of New York City [Real Affordability For All]
· Behind Booming East New York, Gentrification's Last Frontier [Curbed]
· De Blasio Unveils 10-Year, $41B Affordable Housing Plan [Curbed]