BHB reader/Heights Hero Martin L. Schneider comments on our Open Thread Wednesday this morning about last night’s affordable housing forum at St. Ann’s. We thought it warranted it’s own post.
Here’s what he had to say:
I attended the housing panel last night at St. Ann’s.
Our Councilman Steve Levin spent much time on the need for helping people in crisis…the homeless, temporary shelters, rent control which he called the “backbone of the housing program” and the complex and expensive needs in emergencies from fires and hurricanes and the like. He addressed the affordable housing, 80/20 solution which he seems to fervently believe in.
The 80/20 program is a City and State subsidy for builders which provides extra floors for buildings and other tax supported advantages to the builders in exchange for providing 20% of the units at far below market rates. Builders love it.
It seems to me that the 80/20 system which plugs people living at lower income levels into buildings with people who are, to put it politely, much better off, in fact, much, much better off, must generate serious sociological issues about those who would live that way. It also allows the City to duck any meaningful contribution to permanent housing for the working poor who number in the hundreds of thousands of families. It does all this by turning housing over to the builders themselves. The builders like it because it has been shaped to favor their financial needs to show a profit.
I have three major questions which didn’t get asked in the flurry of mostly personal questions by people seriously aggravated over their unfair treatment at the hands of greedy landlords and rapacious builders.
Question #1 : Is this a sound way to build a sense of belonging, neighborliness and community or really just a small band-aid for the working poor?
Question #2: Aside from the questionable democratic housing sociology, how many band aids have been provided so far and how many are projected over the next several years and is that number really going to make a difference in the creating a more livable city.
Question #3: Years ago, there was a meaningful and huge number of apartments developed under non-profit housing plans. The cooperative housing movement, started in the ’30s and continued on to the Coop City in the Bronx not only produced enormous numbers of successful units but also created true communities where residents enjoyed the experience of ownership, fellowship and the satisfaction of personal responsibility. The Heights Cadman Plaza coops was one of the last such projects to be created. The big question is: Why isn’t Coucilman Levin focusing at least some attention on the great potential of non-profit housing? Has the real estate board so dominated the City’s housing policy in recent years as to permanently blot out the possibilities of not-for-profit housing?
— Matthew Taub (@MatthewTaub1) June 25, 2014