The City of New York’s recently issued Housing New York: A Five Borough, Ten-Year Plan reported that New York City’s shortage of affordable housing has reached a crisis point. Most New Yorkers now have limited options for housing and have to spend an unacceptably high share of their income just to put a roof over the head, which means having too little left over for other basic needs. High rent-burden affects nearly every income group in every neighborhood across the five boroughs.
In fact, the statistics illustrate that in 2012, almost 55 percent of all rental households were rent-burdened (spending more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing costs). More than 30 percent of rental households are “severely rent burdened” because they spend more than 50 percent of their incomes on housing.
Because of the limited amount of affordable apartments, each and every year a number of brand-new affordable apartments are created by specialized programs of the New York City Housing Development Corporation and the New York state Housing Finance Agency. These organizations coordinate their efforts through the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD”).
The mission of the New York State Housing Finance Agency is to create and preserve high quality affordable multifamily rental housing that serves community across the State of New York. The New York State Housing Development Corporation seeks to increase the supply of multi-family housing, stimulate economic growth and revitalize neighborhoods by financing the creation and preservation of affordable housing for low, moderate, and middle income New Yorkers. These organizations have and continue to create housing opportunities to the residents of the City of New York.
Both of these organizations offer prospective renters of affordable apartment’s information on their websites (www.nyshcr.org and www.nychdc.com and www.nyc.gov.hpd ) where they can gain insight on the apartments which are now renting; income eligibility and other helpful information. These apartments are advertised in local newspapers. Additionally, the New York City HPD has an affordable housing hotline that describes available apartments and provides information on obtain an application.
After the deadline, applications are selected for review through a lottery process. To participate in a lottery, an individual must complete an application form and mail it to the developer within the specified application period. The newspaper advertisements and information on the websites should provide the applicant with information on (1) income guidelines, (2) who to contact, (3) where to mail your request for an application, and (4) where to mail your completed application. Deadlines for applications will also be noted in the advertisement.
After the drawing of the lottery, the developer schedules interviews (in numerical order of the log sheet) with prospective homeowners. In addition the developer schedules interviews with applicants who meet various preference requirements (residents of Community Board district where development is located, active duty uniformed NYC police officers, mobility-impaired, vision-impaired) prior to interviewing other applicants.
Certain affordable apartments are made available for seniors over age 62 as well as artists and members of the theater arts.
Last December, the ribbon cutting ceremony was held for opening of Riverway apartments located at 20 Riverdale Avenue in Brooklyn. The new development provides 115 units of affordable housing with onsite supportive services to seniors 62 years of age and older. Income restrictions were set for the apartments providing a total of 23 apartments available to seniors earning up to 40% of Area Median Income (“AMI”), or nor more than $24,080 annually for an individual. 91 units were made available to seniors earning up to 50% AMI, or no more than $30,100 annually for an individual. Tenants will pay no more than 30% of their adjusted gross monthly income towards rent with the remainder of the cost being subsidized by Project based Section 8 vouchers provided by the New York City Housing Authority.
This past summer, more than 53,000 artists applied for 90 new affordable living and working spaces located in a former public school on East 99th Street between Second and Third Avenues in East Harlem. Developers for the space known as El Barrio’s Artspace PS 109 received 51,313 online applications and 2,000 paper applications by the July 14, 2014 deadline.
Apartments located in this development were available to a single person whose annually income was lower than $35,300 and a $50,000 limit on families of four. Monthly rents range from $494 for a 420 foot studio to $1,022 for a 1,135 square foot two bedroom apartment. One bedroom apartments, which range in size from 640 to 975 square feet rented for $844 a month.
The majority of brand-new residential apartment buildings under construction in New York City offer a total of 20 percent of the apartments for affordable units. These affordable apartments are created through the 80/20 Housing Program of the New York State Housing Finance Agency (“HFA”). HFA offers the developers tax-exempt financing to multi-family rental developments in which at least 20 percent of the units are set aside for very low income residents. At least 20 percent of units must be side aside for households with incomes at 50 percent or less of the local area median income, adjusted for family size. Alternatively, 25 percent or more of a project’s units must be affordable to households whose income is 60 percent or less than the local AMI, adjusted for family size. Twenty percent of a project’s units must remain affordable to very low income households for a given time period agreed between HFA and the building owner.
In Midtown West, construction is underway for the Moinian Group’s 60-story residential rental building at 605 West 42nd Street. When completed, the tower will have a total of 235 affordable apartments and 939 market rate apartments.
One of the largest affordable housing developments is taking place Hunter’s Point south a mixed use development situated on approximately 30 acres of prime waterfront property in Long Island City section of Queens. Up to 5,000 housing units, 60 percent of which will be affordable to middle income families.
Under the rules of affordable apartments, once an individual qualifies to rent an affordable apartment they are protected to remain in that apartment no matter if their income rises above the initial income when they secured the apartment. In many instances these tenants never pay more than the initial rental adjusted for inflation.
Presented blow is a chart from the Housing New York: A Five Borough, Ten Year Plan explaining the income levels and rents for affordable housing.
It is indeed a science to secure an affordable apartment; nevertheless, it is worth the investment of time to be one of the lucky individuals renting, in many instances, a newly built apartment unit.