2014-05-09 / Editorial/Opinion

Affordable For Whom

Affordable sounds so good. Everyone wants their housing to be more affordable whether it’s lower water and tax bills for homeowners or rents for tenants.

With Mayor de Blasio releasing a plan to build and preserve 200,000 affordable units over the coming decade it’s time to ask a couple of questions: What exactly is affordable housing? And affordable for whom?

Affordable housing is defined by government as housing that costs a family no more than 30 percent of its income. So affordable for a family that makes $80,000 a year is different than a family of four which makes $25,000. There are levels to all this “affordable” housing talk. There is “affordable” for middle income families, low income families, very low income families, and extremely low income families.

When the mayor and other elected officials tout “affordable housing” we’d like to know what they mean. What level of income exactly? And do they mean for the people already living here? Or would this housing be offered to all eligible?

Affordable housing sounds great. But can Rockaway’s one hospital handle a new population? Is the lousy Rockaway infrastructure able to accommodate more housing?

City Councilman Donovan Richards says he wants more affordable housing and wants a “balance” between affordable and market rate. Sounds good, too.

But let’s hear his definition of affordable. Does he want Rockaway to get housing for those with extremely low income? And exactly how much of it? Specifics, please.

When emergencies occur (such as Sandy) the poor are the most vulnerable and require the most services.

Affordable housing might turn out to be anything but.

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