Everywhere you look in NYC these days, there’s new tall glass buildings going up. Mostly they’re offering condominiums for sale not office space and the developers often have their eye on wealthy foreigners who are eager to invest in NYC’s hard to get real estate. But of course there’s a problem. What about the people who can’t afford the prices for what is after all a limited amount of NYC real estate. What’s at stake is NYC’s population diversity, that a place which has always had a mix of people is rapidly becoming somewhere where what is called ‘affordable’ housing is thin on the ground.
So the New York State Govt has put in place a scheme to provide tax credits to developers who provide some affordable housing in their brilliant new shiny towers and the City Govt allows them to build slightly larger buildings if they do the same thing. All so that the housing mix in NYC doesn’t become too lopsided and City retains the valued diversity of it’s historical past.
However the end result is not always what people are happy with. One such development, at One Riverside Park, has already garnered negative publicity because while they are providing affordable housing, the tenants in said affordable housing will not get to share the luxurious lobby enjoyed by the wealthy condo owners. The affordable housing tenants will enter through a ‘poor’ door around the side of the building from the big main entrance.
This is a 33 story development and there will be 219 luxury apartments sitting over the top of the afforable housing which will take up the lower floors. The cheapest of these condos will cost $3.6m and these owners will enjoy a pool, a bowling alley, a rock climbing wall, a golf simulator and a screening room.
Meanwhile there will be 55 low rent apartments available to low income owners, the criteria being that a family of 4 must earn below $50,304 to qualify to rent one. They will be provided with a community room and bike storage facilities only. And of course they will enter through the poor door.
It is a starkly rich/poor divide in the same building, and there are a number of other buildings where this is also happening. But the housing choices for low income earners are dwindling daily, so each time one of these new developemtns goes up with some low income housing provided within it, then the overall tally of affordable housing ticks upwards. It’s not a perfect solution, but it is part of a solution. Applications have now opened for the One Riverside Park development and people are watching very closely how many people apply because that will be one measure of how bad the low income housing situation really is.