Housing Starts: Brokers Push Gentrification | Finding Housing as an Ex-Con | Imagining East New York

August 19th 2014

New Orleans-Public housing project B.W. Cooper, new HANO-supported, mixed-income developments in the background (Elaisha Stokes)

  1. Imagining the Future of East New York At first glance, the city’s plan to launch its affordable housing initiative with an ambitious development in East New York sounds reasonable enough: We’d see mixed-income apartment buildings and stores on Atlantic Avenue, along with an office-shopping-housing complex near the Broadway Junction station. There’d be new plantings, benches, walkways and bike lanes. What’s not to like? Then I ran a little thought experiment. Atlantic Avenue runs through my neighborhood, too. What if this development was proposed for Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights? There’d be rioting in the streets, that’s what. We’d see lawsuits, petitions, and outraged op-ed pieces penned by local literary lions. [Wall Street Journal – 08/15/14]
  2. Haves, Have-nots Divided by Apartment Poor Doors New York is a city where the rich and relatively poor have long lived side by side, with who pays what often a closely held, widely varying secret. But a recent spate of buildings with separate amenities for the haves and have-nots is hurling that question out in the open, provoking an uncomfortable debate over equality, economics and the tightness of the social fabric. [Associated Press – 08/18/14]
  3. NYC’s Next Hot Neighborhood Targeted With Property Funds New York’s real estate world is filled with tales of ordinary people who bought property decades ago and saw values skyrocket to the millions. Seth Weissman is seeking investors to get in early on the next hot neighborhoods. The veteran of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and hedge fund Perry Capital LLC started CityShares, which enables participants to reap rewards from increasing apartment demand in gentrifying areas. Investors who pledge at least $100,000 to one of the program’s neighborhood-focused funds become partial owners of a group of buildings and share in the rental income. The first pool is more than halfway toward its target of $5 million, which will be used to buy properties in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant. [Bloomberg – 08/15/14]
  4. For Ex-Cons, Finding Housing May Become Less Difficult in the Big Easy The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, known as HUD, provides public-housing assistance to about 3.4 million households annually, either in the form of housing projects, where tenants pay rent substantially below market rate, or rent-subsidy vouchers, to be used in private, market-rate housing, better known as Section 8 vouchers. Historically, people with criminal histories have been banned from receiving these benefits. Under federal law, local public-housing authorities are empowered to create their own guidelines for admission, provided they adhere to the Fair Housing Act of 1968. For most local housing authorities, these guidelines banned formerly incarcerated people from public housing. In some instances, just a record of arrest, even without charges, was enough to have an application for housing denied. [Al Jazeera – 08/14/14]
  5. Housing Crisis Reconsidered Given all you have read, do you believe that New York’s affordable-housing crisis is more severe than in other large cities, and do you believe it is getting worse here at a faster pace than it is elsewhere? Your answer is probably yes. But the correct answer is no, according to new research from the Citizens Budget Commission that does something usually missing from housing debates: comparative analysis. [Crain’s New York Business – 08/15/14]
  6. Brokers Give Gentrification a Push By Opening a String of Coffee Shops in Harlem Now, it’s the brokers causing the gentrification of Harlem. A group of Upper Manhattan real estate agents sick of peddling apartments in buildings with abandoned or substandard retail spaces on the ground floors has opened a string of coffee shops in a bid to spruce up the neighborhood — and hike prices for the units above. Call it coffeehouse gentrification — but the java joints have transformed long-abandoned storefronts that had little hope of attracting mainstream tenants. And they’re making the units upstairs more attractive to renters and buyers in return. [New York Daily News – 08/15/14]
  7. Crown Heights Tenant Union Shows the Way Crown Heights, the neighborhood east of the Brooklyn Museum and the tranquil fields of Prospect Park, has the fastest rising rents of any community in Brooklyn. Trendy restaurants and boutiques, with names like the “Owl and Thistle General Store,” have accompanied the more affluent newcomers who are driving up rents. But for the neighborhood’s longtime residents, who are mostly African-American or Caribbean, the changes have attracted real estate and private equity companies that see an opportunity to make an enormous profit by driving tenants out the rent-stabilized apartments. Some of those longtime residents are turning to the Crown Heights Tenant Union (CHTU), which started last fall as a group of about a dozen residents and community organizers and has since established a presence in dozens of buildings throughout the neighborhood, including 10 buildings where strong tenant associations have taken root. [The Indypendent – 08/13/14]
  8. Stalled Brooklyn Waterfront Project Proceeds A Brooklyn waterfront development on pause for years is set to move forward now that its developer has found a partner. Palin Enterprises and Mack Real Estate Group have entered into a joint venture to develop 145 West St. in the Greenpoint neighborhood—an 800,000-square-foot project with more than 600 residential units and 23,000 square feet of retail space. It is one of the larger Greenpoint developments expected to drastically reshape a neighborhood that already has been transformed from a blue-collar Polish-American enclave to hipster-chic favorite. [Wall Street Journal – 08/17/14]
  9. Quantifying de Blasio Bill de Blasio rode to the mayoralty in 2013 on a wave of promises: citywide prekindergarten, more help for the downtrodden, politer policing, fewer traffic deaths and greater focus on the boroughs beyond Manhattan. His empathetic oratory has been a departure from the businesslike pronouncements of his data-focused predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. But Mr. de Blasio’s efforts can just as well be quantified—as can his rhetoric. [Crain’s New York Business – 08/18/14]
  10. The Housing Being Built in New York Doesn’t Meet the Needs of New Yorkers Earlier this week, Crain’s reported that while spending on residential construction is poised to soar to $10.2 billion this year, up from $6.8 billion in 2013, a much larger proportion of that money will be directed to high-end luxury units, producing just 20,000 units, down from the approximately 30,000 per year that were built annually during the last boom cycle. These days even developers of luxury rentals projects, which remain very much in demand among resident New Yorkers, have a difficult time bidding against high-end condo developers, who can afford to pay far more per buildable square foot. The problem with this all these posh, sprawling condos, as a recent report on micro-units and accessory dwellings from NYU’s Furman Center illustrates, is that they aren’t meeting the needs of people who actually live in New York. The city demands cheaper, smaller housing units, with 57 percent of all adults in the city identifying as “single,” according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and 54.5 percent of the city’s population classified as rent-burdened—or paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent—in 2011, up from 40.7 percent in 2000. [New York Observer – 08/15/14]
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