2014-05-16 / Columnists

Arverne East Must Have Mixed Housing

Everyday New Yorkers Are Welcome in Rockaway
By Councilman Donovan Richards

Last week Mayor Bill de Blasio laid out an ambitious and bold plan that would preserve or create 200,000 units of affordable housing across New York City. This was put forward to address the skyrocketing cost of living, as the average New Yorker may spend more than half of their check on rent. The causes of this problem include former Mayor Bloomberg’s housing policies, which have created an inequality crisis that we now must clean up to ensure New Yorkers can remain in the city they love.

When I campaigned for office, I heard countless stories from working low and middle class Rockaway residents who are struggling to make ends meet. They shared their stories of hardship; having to choose between paying their rent or mortgage and putting food on the table daily. I made a commitment to those families that I would do everything in my power to level the playing field for them. My office plans on making good on those promises with the Arverne East project.

Last week The Wave’s Katie McFadden raised a valid question; what is affordable housing and what does it mean for the Rockaways?

First-off, incomes are based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) estimate for Area Median Income (AMI), which is estimated to be $83,900 for a four-person household in New York in 2014. Those with an “extremely low income” make 0 to 30 percent of the AMI, or less than $25,150 for a four-person household. “Very low income” New Yorkers make 31 to 50 percent of the AMI, or $25,151 to $41,950. Those with “low income” make 51 to 80 percent of the AMI, or $41,951 to $67,120. “Moderate income” means those who make between 81 and 120 percent of the AMI, or between $67,121 and $100,680 and those making between 121 and 165 percent of the AMI, or between $100,681 and $138,435 are said to have “middle income.” (Yes, I copied and pasted Katie.)

Now the answer to the question, Will low-income New Yorkers be provided an opportunity to live in Arverne East? The answer is yes. Let us look at the salary of everyday working low and middle income New Yorkers below:

NYC police officers starting salary- $44,744; healthcare workers (resident physician) salary- $45,000; NYC teachers starting salary-$45,000; and firefighters starting salary-$45,000.

Now I have heard stories that a small group of people are opposed to some components of affordable housing being built at the Arverne East site. Are you saying that working New York City police officers, healthcare workers, teachers and firefighters shouldn’t live in Rockaway? I remember these low and middle income heroes protecting us during Hurricane Sandy. Are they only good enough to protect us during a crisis and not good enough to live here?

The truth is that my community and I are in support of some market-rate, and affordable housing components for low and middle class families.

Arverne-by-the-Sea, Dayton Towers, Ocean Village, Waters Edge Condominiums all have one thing in common, the city subsidized part of these projects so that working New Yorkers could live in an affordable Rockaway. Yes, I intend on keeping that momentum going with the Arverne East project. We will also continue to work with the developers and the city to ensure that a hefty percentage of units and housing go to local residents instead of increasing our population drastically. It is critical that we give Rockaway residents an opportunity to dream big, while bringing in additional disposable income which will assist us in bringing in additional commerce such as a movie theater, etc.

Over the past year, I have been honored to work alongside Rockaway Wildfire, Rockaway Youth Taskforce, Faith in New York, Align, Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corp., Margaret Community Corp., and countless other organizations to ensure that Arverne East is a success. These organizations have launched a community benefits agreement campaign that I support, which will ensure that as Arverne East materializes the local community benefits.

Furthermore, as the chairman of the Environmental Protection Committee, I have oversight over the Mayor’s Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability, which oversees the implementation of PlaNYC for the entire city. Post-Hurricane Sandy, it is critical that resiliency and sustainability are at the forefront of the developer’s and administration’s mind as we build. This is why the Bluestone and L&M group are proposing a double dune system, solar energy and geothermal in their plans.

I have also commissioned the city to release a request for proposals (which they already have), so we can expand the Addabbo Health Center eventually, and I will push to have a 24 hour emergency room open at the former Peninsula Hospital sight as plans materialize. The plans we will release later this month will also include a vocational school, so that we can offer the unemployed training in the construction trades, green jobs, hospitality, etc. All of this will enable us to put people to work.

The east end of the Rockaways is beyond excited about the opportunity to finally see something come to life on 80 acres of land that have been left desolate for my entire life span. As a former resident of Ocean Village who lived in the affordable housing complex, my apartment faced this sight and I always dreamed of the day we would see something great happen in Arverne.

I’m happy to say that day seems like it has finally arrived. Only I’m the councilman of the 31st District now, thanks to an affordable apartment and constituents who trust me to fight for them!

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"Inequality crisis that WE

"Inequality crisis that WE must now clean up" ? What's with this "WE" shit? Does he have a MOUSE in his pocket or something? Just like Obama, he pushes the GREAT DIVIDE!


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