Affordable Housing in NYC

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On the Brian Lehrer Show today at 10:06 am.  Audio and a recap of this conversation will be posted here by 1pm.

Christine Quinn, speaker of the New York City Council, discusses the pilot program to turn vacant condos into affordable housing.  Rafael Cestero, Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, joins the conversation and discusses the pilot program as well as his tenure as HPD commissioner, which is coming to an end this week.



Rafael Cestero and Christine Quinn


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Comments [36]

@emjayay from Gravesend Brooklyn:

She is a genuine two faced political swine,
who does not even stand up for her own constituency.

: )

Mar. 29 2011 04:29 PM

i'm sure we can talk about more than one topic at a time. i won't call that zealotry. but thanks for ur input

Mar. 29 2011 03:38 PM
emjayay from Gravesend Brooklyn

Christine Quinn seems to be the modern gay version of the old time Tammany Hall machine politician. She appears progressive, and no doubt is on gay issues (yay!), but she is, once again, basically a typical politician. She loved her secret millions of dollars slush fund she pretended to not exactly know about.

On this housing issue, she thinks it's great to spend millions of tax dollars on direct costs and administration to give away some apartments to .00001% of middle class NYC residents. Then she can portray herself as helping middle class NYers.

As shown by one scandal after another at the city and state level, a whole lot of our city and state officials are in it for the free money they can corner for themselves by stealing Medicaid funds for their fake clinics, hiring all their friends and political donors to corner more funds in every conceiveable way, etc. You don't have to be a cynic to see a new bizarre revelation of this stuff in the news all the time. Quinn is the shouty happy face best of the worst.

The basic problem is the existence of policies handing out free taxpayer money in all kinds of ways, enticing politicians, old Italian and new Russian (or whoever) Mafia, corrupt doctors, and every one else to try to get their share (and much more).

Mar. 29 2011 01:50 PM
Yvonne from Park Slope

There is on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn at Grand Army Plaza right across from Prospect Park a huge mostly glass construction that I believe is both a condo and still, it seems from the last time I looked, a lot of vacant units. It was built, apparently, to be a luxury residence but they do not seem to be able to fill it. This may not be the type of building that you are looking for but I figured that I would mention it, just in case something is possible, because it seems so stupid to have places stay vacant when there is such a need.

I am retired, live on my pension and social security, have lived in Park Slope since 1976 and in my current apartment since 1989 and my rent is a little below market; I do not like how my building is kept up but I feel like I can't afford to move given the options. I assume there are a lot of people out there in this same situation. I am Caribbean American, have a graduate degree and think of myself as middle-class which means that I have too much for housing meant for the poor and not enough for a lot of New York City. Some of the people calling in and posting do not seem to really understand NYC rents.

I think rents in NYC have been crazy for a long time and it just keeps getting crazier. I am very glad to hear that there are attempts being made to provide housing for those in the middle like me. I do not understand why some feel this is a threat to the very real and ongoing need for housing for the poor ... why does it have to be either/or????? The middle, including the city's actors, artists, dancers, musicians, etc., is being squeezed out and this will completely change the essence of this great city.

Mar. 29 2011 01:36 PM

I think that New Yorkers would want to see the Assistant U.S. Attorney's report on Ms. Quinn's role in the embezzlement scheme that was being run out of her office, before they allow her near another "lemonade" stand from which she is free to "correct errors" for her friends and political supporters.
Does WNYC have any reporters covering the city council? Or are you on the line for that lemonade?

Mar. 29 2011 12:29 PM
emjayay from Gravesend Brooklyn

Corin W:

A 50K income is maybe 40K after taxes. 30% (not "less than 30%") of 40K is 1200, divided by 12 = 1000. I live 45 minutes to an hour by subway from Manhattan in the cheapest "decent" neighborhood in Brooklyn. You would be extremely hard pressed to find a small one bedroom apartment here for $1000, much more likely a studio. Two bedroom apartments start at about $1300-$1500.

Maybe you are not aware of the realities of the current rental market even in the far reaches of the outer boroughs.

Mar. 29 2011 11:04 AM
John from Brooklyn

The bldg just east of 121 North 5th Street in Williamsburg is nearly finnished, but the developer went bankrupt a few years ago.

Mar. 29 2011 10:46 AM
emjayay from Gravesend Brooklyn

Too bad the segment was so short there was no time for any actual discussion. While doing something about housing intended for the rich which didn't work out for the developers is a good idea, as pointed out here it is the fault of the pro rich people Bloomberg administration that they were built in the first place.

Spending our tax dollars ($68,000 a unit?) on a benefit for a miniscule percentage of NYC residents is absurd. It's not a housing policy, it's a lottery win for a few people at the expense of everyone else who are spending half their income for generally tiny badly maintained housing. Much to my surprise Brian asked a question down these lines, but of course allowed it to be ignored.

All the tax dollars spent on creating disfunctional multigenerational communities in housing projects is even worse., costing us enormous additional amounts in crime, police, and societal disfunction.

Fairly weak currentNYC rent stabilization? Not a bad idea, but why only larger (6 unit plus) old buildings? A complete top to bottom rethink of housing policy is one of the greatest needs of NYC and the country, not that it's gonna happen. Meanwhile we're either benefiting a few people or causing enormous problems for society in general, all at great cost.

On a related topic, in my working class Brooklyn block a developer recently knocked down a perfectly nice contextual 6 unit building and put up a poorly designed condo horror, indicating a lack of any kind of design oversight by the city.

And in case anyone is wondering, I'm more on the socialist than the tea bagger side of things.

Mar. 29 2011 10:46 AM
April from Manhattan

Not only were African Americans targeted in the NYC area for subprime mortgages, but even in elegant buildings like The Dakota, much mentioned in the news, there is a lot of racial discrimination in co ops and condos. My building has sixteen stories, 280 apts. and three or four African Americans. When I shocked everyone at the New York Historical Society by asking Rev. Butts, of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, whether there is still segregation in New York City, he began "In Atlanta..." Then did a double take to say "Well, yes, in housing, schools, employment and churches." The latter flabbergasted me.
So I hope that strict anti discrimination laws will be established for not only this new housing, which I also hope includes the poor. Brian cut me off before I could say that, probably to let on another person from another area. I'm a white Southerner originally who was, along with many other white Southerners were in the Civil Rights Movement. it's amazing how difficult to get that fact covered, though it's well documented in the Southern Historical Collection at UNC Chapel Hill. No one will touch it. Why not? The answer may come from Bob Moser in Blue Dixie, about how most Southerners are populists and shouldn't be written off by Democrats. I emailed Obama about this, thinking mentioning it could be politically advantageous to him. He Didn't write off the South. Anyway, Moser's line is "Talking about race in the South is a way of not talking about race in the rest of the country." He also points out the fallacy of the "Faustian bargain" Republicans made to win the South. I.e. that Nixon and Reagan were less racist than Southerners. Nixon was on tape growling "I'm against abortion, unless it involves a white woman and a black man." There goes our president. Re Christine Quinn, I was telephone polled by what turned out to be Walmart. The first question was "How do you feel about Christine Quinn?" I asked what's above the highest? By the end, I said "NO!! I don't want Walmart in NYC!" It would be nice to have a cheap place to buy cotton undies. I miss Woolworth.

Mar. 29 2011 10:44 AM
huang from Manhattan

I strongly feel the NYC is doing the right thing to help the middle class with affordable housing. Professionals are the backbones (and reliable taxpayers) in every aspects of NYC development and survival. But many middle income (under $100,000) professionals would not be able to pay for the market rate of rent for decent housing (such as a 300 square feet independent living space for a person).

Mar. 29 2011 10:37 AM
Marcus from nyc

I have lived in NYC for 22 years. It is increasingly become a city for the rich and the poor who serve them. Very tough for the middle class.

Mar. 29 2011 10:28 AM

Christine "Chavez" Quinn aka Big Red wants to keep her voters housed and alive. "Nationalizing" private enterprise is right up her alley. She is a vote pandering bombastic unAmerican with no sense of dignity. But since those with low aptitude relative to to accomplished taxpayers represent the voting masses, she of course will invent herself as a supporter of the former.

Mar. 29 2011 10:27 AM
Corin W. from Harlem

It's just a joke... With 50K, you can rent a 2-bedroom apartment with less than 30% of your rent in a decent neighborhood in NYC.

What are you complaining about?

Mar. 29 2011 10:24 AM
jim from Manhattan

All the developers received tax breaks for building, and new developments have ridiculously low maintenance fees while existing home owners have seen their property taxes double. When will there be property tax equity and a review of the property tax evaluation for the entire city!

Mar. 29 2011 10:24 AM
Tina from Brooklyn

Can the city help homeowners who are struggling with their mortgages by bringing those homes into the HPD programs?

Mar. 29 2011 10:23 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I'm glad to hear a caller ask about low-income renters. Mixed-income neighborhoods are fine, but why not have mixed incomes in the same building? (I am glad the failed building is being converted to affordable housing--it's just a q. of *who* can afford it!)

Mar. 29 2011 10:22 AM
Patricia from FH

To live in NYC you have to be either really rich or poor - there's no housing for those in the middle.

Mar. 29 2011 10:21 AM
Susan from Manhattan

There's enough help targeting the poor. It's great to see a project aimed at helping those who are right in the middle.

Often, I find I'm not eligible for low income benefits...but not rich enough to afford things, either. I often think there are no options (health, living etc) that help people who are in that economic limbo zone.

Mar. 29 2011 10:21 AM
David from Brooklyn

In Brooklyn Heights, 20 Henry Street has been an eyesore for several years. The tenants were all kicked out so the apartments could be transmogrified into luxury housing. That hasn't happened. (This is the historic Peaks Mason Mints factory building, which used to be an asset to the neighborhood, but is now apparently languishing behind scaffolding and sidewalk sheds.)

Mar. 29 2011 10:20 AM

@ Fishmael from NYC

I know! What is considered affordable?

I live in Poughkeepsie, and yes it's cheaper, but amazingly not by much. I guess we could all go live under a bridge!

And why does Christine Quinn constantly yell when speaking--it's soooo aggravating!

Mar. 29 2011 10:20 AM
h from brooklyn

what about single middle class. is there affordable housing available to us?

Mar. 29 2011 10:20 AM
Corin Wenger from Harlem

I fail to understand why the guests, as well as HPD and NYC govt, don't ever speak about the lowest two quintiles of NYC economy, the people who make less than 50K.

As a CUNY student for the past 10 years or so, I have tried without success to qualify for ANY apartment, and have no way of getting in one--because usually they want 40X the rent in yearly income. I have to rent rooms, and have no equity or housing stability as a result.

As the caller said--WHY NOT THE POOR!?

Mar. 29 2011 10:19 AM
From Greenpoint from Brooklyn

A skeletal start-of-a-building has been standing unfinished for at least two years in Greenpoint: on Eckford Street between Driggs and Engert. It's become a home for a pack of feral cats, and the structure looms large and sad in the middle of the block.

Mar. 29 2011 10:19 AM
Susy from Manhattan

I'd like to nominate the block in Manhattan where there was a tragic crane accident a couple of years back. (50th-51st between 1-2 aves) That entire block has been affected. The block was not in such great shape before the crane collapse, and now it's rodent infested, filled with incomplete and vacant buildings and looks neglected and sad.

Much of Midtown East (49-53rd sts) between 1st and 2nd ave is vacant, and hasn't been occupied since I moved here in 2007. It's bad for the businesses around here, and sad for the residents.

Mar. 29 2011 10:18 AM
Fishmael from NYC

and... could you ask your guests what an "affordable rent" is?

Mar. 29 2011 10:17 AM
Martha from Manhattan

i can no longer stomach listening to quinn. she is just a reminder of the poor quality of our leadership. please,, next segment

Mar. 29 2011 10:17 AM
nick from brooklyn

Too much back-patting here. We wouldn't have hundreds of un- and under-used condos around the city if the mayor and city council hadn't created an atmosphere for predatory lending and speculative investments which pushed poor people out of the city. And Quinn didn't come up with this idea at all, organizations like Right to the City have been talking for years about turning condos into housing for people who are actually poor (not $80K a year).

Mar. 29 2011 10:16 AM
Zachary Thacher from West Village

I'm all for helping relatively poor or lower-income people, but do these efforts throw off the housing market in NYC? I earn roughly 100k a year, which for many is considered middle class considering the high cost of living. I worry that these subsidies turn NYC into a city of multi-millionaires and poorer people, with no one in the middle.

Thank you for the excellent show and blog.

Mar. 29 2011 10:15 AM
art525 from Park Slope

@hjs- I mean forget about affordable housing, what about my bike lane?

Mar. 29 2011 10:15 AM
Will from chelse

There is a ready to go Condo building that has been finished now for 7 months in Chelsea:corner building of 16th St. & 8th Ave. This building has on street level a Bank and Pharmacy as revenue producers.... why not use this unused uninhabited?

Mar. 29 2011 10:14 AM
Deb Randorf from Brooklyn

I've been waiting for a NYC publicc/private partnership house to be completed for the last 7 years. Who is in charge of policing these companies who are selected to trenovate these homes? Same goes for these condos....
mine was first managed by BEC New Communities in Brooklyn, and now a group called Metropolis...

Mar. 29 2011 10:13 AM
art525 from Park Slope

@hjs112111 -yes it is off topic. But your question does show the absurd zealotry of you folks.

Mar. 29 2011 10:13 AM
Fishmael from NYC

Wait.... that went by so quickly, but, did your guest not say 50-79K ** for a family of four ** ????? So, what about an individual making in that range?

Mar. 29 2011 10:11 AM
Susan from NYC

This is nothing but another giveaway of public funds to rich, well-connected developers. The Quinn/Bloomberg cabal has already showered these neighborhood-ruining parasites with endless tax benefits and illegal zoning changes, and, now that their hubris is not paying off adequately, we are expected to buy up their white elephants. Meanwhile, we are closing firehouses and firing teachers. What's wrong with this picture?

Mar. 29 2011 10:03 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Affordable housing?

End rent stabilization and rent control (and join the rest of the country) and we will move toward affordable housing.

And while we are at it, why is Ms. Quinn never asked to give full disclosure that she and her partner live in a rent stabilized apartment while their household income is way above (at least) 93% of others in such buildings. Why can she comment on this topic when she is one of the most egregious examples of this inequity. Isn't this a conflict of interest that should become a whole segment on a future BL show!!??

Mar. 29 2011 09:37 AM

i know its off topic but please ask if quinn is as anti-bike lane as anthony whiner

Mar. 29 2011 08:46 AM

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