Report finds asking nicely for affordable housing doesn’t work

Say what you will about the Edge, but at least they actually built some of their affordable units. via Facebook

Say what you will about the Edge, but at least they actually built some of their affordable units. via Facebook

The problem of what to do about New York’s stock of affordable housing is one that’s bound to vex the next mayor, no matter who they are. That’s because if we don’t want large swathes of Brooklyn to become creepy ghost towns (not) populated by oligarchs with deep pockets, we’re gonna need a lot more of it. One suggestion to the problem comes from City Council member Brad Lander’s office, who recently released a report showing that for all of Brooklyn’s awesome new construction and re-zonings, basically nowhere outside of Williamsburg has gotten any affordable housing.

The report, that Lander put together with the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development Now, looks at the city’s voluntary Inclusionary Zoning program, which gives developers in certain neighborhoods the rights to shove more units in an apartment if they’re willing to build 20% permanently affordable housing into their developments. Since developers aren’t required to do this in areas covered by Inclusionary Zoning, they…haven’t done that.

The report could become a little outdated when, or IF, the affordable housing in Downtown every gets built, but at the moment, while 15 buildings in Williamsburg and Greenpoint have yielded 949 units of affordable housing, only two buildings with 83 units of affordable housing have gone up anywhere else in Brooklyn. This despite 4th Avenue, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Flatbush, Bed Stuy and Sunset Park all having areas in those neighborhoods eligible for the zoning bonus. And it’s not like there’s been any construction in those places.

To fix this, Lander and ANHDN recommend the city move to a mandatory Inclusionary Zoning program, among other things, like Boston, Denver, San Diego and San Francisco have. They claim studies have shown it won’t stop people from building here and point out that it’s not like all the construction in the past decade has added a significant amount of affordable housing. And come on, are we really gonna let San Diego hold a progressive victory over our heads?