Former PCV resident returns through apartment lottery

Nichole Levin, holding a gift bag with slippers at home on Monday, is happy to be back in Peter Cooper Village. Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday, March 31, Nichole Levin, an elementary school teacher and Peter Cooper Village native, got the phone call she’d been waiting for over a year. Her application to the Stuyvesant Town lottery for reduced rent apartments had been accepted. In fact, she was told, she could move in right away, and the apartment was in the same building in Peter Cooper Village as her mother’s home.

The news came as a happy ending to what was a somewhat stressful process, due to the wait — she’d even had to extend her current lease in Tudor City by a month while sorting out a paperwork issue.

Levin, 41, has since spoke with Town & Village about her experience, and has also since moved in (on Monday).

It was last March when the lottery opened for the first time, inviting those with incomes no higher than 165 percent of the area median income as well as those earning no more than 80 percent of the AMI to apply. Levin, who teaches English as a Second Language, had an income that made her eligible for apartments for renters in the upper income tier. Last March, this was $74,850-$99,825 for a single person seeking a studio or one-bedroom. It wasn’t until September, however, that she was contacted for a routine credit check.

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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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Wait list opens for affordable apartments in Kips Bay

By Sabina Mollot

New Yorkers on the lookout for a more affordable home might want to consider Phipps Plaza South, two buildings located in Kips Bay, where there is currently a lottery for affordable apartments.

There is at this time just a small amount of vacancies, but there is also a wait list, according to a spokesperson for Phipps, which, this week, announced the opportunity via an ad. The reason for the announcement since most units are already filled is that the owner, nonprofit developer Phipps Houses, is required to periodically refresh the waiting list if it’s out of date or applicants fall below a certain number. This policy is a HUD requirement for Section at 8 at the property.

The two buildings are located at 330 East 26th Street and 444 Second Avenue and together have 404 apartments that are mostly low-income. None are market rate, according to the spokesperson, James Yolle, and it’s covered under a regulatory agreement until 2039 and will then become rent stabilized. Any unit rented goes to someone on the waiting list, which applicants can get on based on income limits.

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