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East Harlem's affordable housing stock may be in jeopardy

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The neighborhood may lose 25 percent of its affordable housing by 2040

Mayor Bill de Blasio may be charging forward with several rezoning proposals to fulfill his affordable housing agenda, but housing advocates are concerned that the city’s current stock of affordable housing might fall through the cracks. Nowhere is this more evident than in East Harlem, DNAinfo reports, based on a new study [PDF!] published by public policy think tank, Regional Plan Association.

As much as 25 percent of the neighborhood’s affordable housing stock could shrink by 2040, the report claims citing the future expiration of several affordable housing deals. The study was conducted in collaboration with the local community board, Community Board 11, and they found that about a quarter of the 56,000 residential units in East Harlem will see their affordability criteria expire in 2040.

For about 4,000 units, it will be a lot sooner, with the affordability set to expire between 2020-2030. Housing advocates are calling on a push for permanently affordable buildings, and in particular they are citing the gentrification in the neighborhood — the median income rose 35 percent between 2000 and 2013, which in turn indicates that there will be very few affordable options available once the current affordability restrictions expire.

The de Blasio administration on its part has highlighted the work of its Tenant Support Unit saying the group has worked to preserve 2,300 units of affordable housing in the neighborhood in the past few years. The city recently also announced a $135 million deal to preserve over 500 units of affordable housing in the neighborhood, but that, DNAinfo points out, will only be valid for the next 40 years. De Blasio’s overall rezoning and affordable housing agenda is also coming under scrutiny of late, from the City Council, which had initially supported his program.