Editorial: When affordable housing is a prize

Last week, Blackstone reopened its lottery for reduced rent apartments in Stuyvesant Town, an announcement that was welcome news to the rent burdened but still raised the inevitable question of whether a discount of a few hundred bucks on rents that would otherwise start at over three thousand is truly affordable.

The answer is of course it is not, and it’s still hard to grasp — at least to us — how things got to the point where in order to get an affordable place to live in New York, one literally has to win a lottery. It feels a bit like a dystopian cautionary tale of what could happen when a wealthy politician, untouched by the people’s concerns about the need for affordable living, prefers to simply let the market do its thing. Oh, wait… that actually happened.

Fast forward to the present. Mayor Bill de Blasio has been quick to tout the affordable housing he’s built and preserved, as he promised to do on the campaign trail, but again, the Devil’s in the details. In the case of Stuyvesant Town, the 5,000 units committed to so-called affordability (which start at $2,800 for one-bedrooms) only become available as each rent-stabilized unit turns over. Additionally, half of those units, once vacated due to a tenant moving out or dying, will become market rate. So income eligible market rate residents and others hoping for at least some relief may be in for a very long wait. Note: We don’t blame Blackstone for this 50/50 arrangement, which seems fair, or for reopening the lottery, which as we also reported last week, prompted a few hopeful people we spoke with to try their luck.

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What ST/PCV lottery winners can expect in their apartments

The renovated units have a dishwasher and light wood finishes on the cabinets. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

The renovated units have a dishwasher and light wood finishes on the cabinets. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The apartments allocated as “affordable” in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village are, as Blackstone, has promised, renovated, which would be expected given the only somewhat reduced price.
However, unlike market units, they can’t be toured by prospective renters until they’re contacted because an apartment has become available. Would-be tenants won’t encounter any surprises though since all the available one and two-bedroom units are similar in layout and in the fixtures.

What’s to be expected is an included air conditioner in the living room window and in each bedroom, though like all other tenants, they’ll be paying extra surcharges to keep cool. The ACs will be either GE or Friedrich. At this time, monthly surcharges are $26.65 per unit, a rate set by the Division of Housing and Community Renewal for all tenants.

Kitchens will come with a dishwasher, which like the other kitchen appliances like the fridge and microwave, are manufactured by GE.

All kitchen cabinets have wood finish with white appliances and granite or Corian surface countertops.

All apartments have the classic blond wood parquet floor that will ultimately have to be 80 percent covered.

Bathrooms are white-tiled.

All apartments will have at least four closets, including a linen closet, though they won’t necessarily all be laid out the same way.

Additionally, like all other residents, lottery winners will have their utility fees included in their rents, which are determined by area median income.

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Opinion: Planet Albany

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

I taught a class in politics at City College some years ago. Fortunately, I never had to explain what is going on at all levels of government these days, especially in Albany. From grade school we are instructed that in a democracy, the majority rules. In other words, if you get the most votes, you get to govern. In Albany that is not a given.

There is no need to rehash what happened in the Presidential election. As we know, the candidate with the most votes was not declared the winner.

Notwithstanding Donald Trump’s insistence that he was cheated out of millions of votes, he actually lost the popular vote. But in Presidential elections, the winner is the one who gets a majority of the Electoral College vote, which Trump did. That is a fact, whether we like it or not.

However, consider the curious case of Albany. Like at the federal level, there is a chief executive in the person of the governor. And like Congress, there is a bi-cameral Legislature, the State Assembly and the State Senate.  And that is where the intrigue begins. After the November elections, the Assembly continues to be dominated by the Democratic Party occupying over two thirds of the seats. In the Senate, Democrats also outnumber Republicans, albeit very narrowly by 32 to 31. Governor Cuomo is also a Democrat. So one would think that this could be the golden age for Democrats and their policies…right? Nope.

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