Photo: Edgar Zuniga Jr./Flickr
On the heels of the mayor’s January announcement touting record new affordable housing, the NYU Furman Center published a study showing that “high-opportunity” neighborhoods are actually losing affordable housing fast.
Affordable housing is disappearing in neighborhoods with the highest quality schools, the lowest crime rates and the greatest access to jobs.
Researchers at the Center’s Moelis Institute for Affordable Housing Policy looked at changes in the location and neighborhood characteristics of NYC’s subsidized rental housing. They discovered that the distribution of subsidized units in the city changed significantly between 2002 and 2011, due in part to new development, but also through rising landlord opt-out rates from affordable housing programs, a trend they expect will continue.
Researchers examined homes in the Subsidized Housing Information Project (SHIP) database, an aggregate of 50 public datasets that represents the largest portfolios of privately-owned, publicly-subsidized, income-limited affordable rental housing programs in New York City.
Under these programs, privately-owned properties are able to receive a subsidy from the government if owners keep rents affordable to low-, moderate-, or middle-income residents for a given period, usually 30 years. But nearly a quarter of the 235,000 units contained in the SHIP database have been converted to market-rate in the last 60 years.
Over the next decade, nearly 60,000 subsidized rental units will be eligible to opt out of their affordability restrictions, and many of these are in premium neighborhoods of Manhattan. In the 1970s, 17 percent of subsidized rental units were below 96th street. Since 2000, that number is only six percent. Much of the new affordable housing of the last decade has been in high poverty neighborhoods, neighborhoods with above average violent crime and neighborhoods with lower-performing schools.
This news casts a shadow on Mayor de Blasio’s recent Affordable Housing Plan victories. The city has financed 40,000 apartments since de Blasio took office, enough for 100,000 New Yorkers. This includes new senior housing, housing for the very lowest level incomes, and programs for the formerly homeless. But much of that housing is in what the Furman Center deems low-opportunity neighborhoods.
The Furman Center notes that rent burdens for low- and moderate-income renters will continue to grow in New York City. To ensure equal opportunity, they recommend that city policymakers pay attention not only to “the number or quality of subsidized, affordable units produced, but also to the characteristics of the neighborhoods where those units are built.”