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‘Affordable’ housing in Long Island City? Many residents say ‘not at all!’

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LONG ISLAND CITY (PIX11) – One after another, high-rises are popping up all over Long Island City.

Some of them like Q41 tout affordable housing for New Yorkers.

But ask many of the people who live around the latest development what they think of the prices and affordable isn’t exactly what comes to mind.

“For people like myself, I couldn’t afford that,” said Long Island City resident Alicia Hopper. “I couldn’t afford that at all.  It’s ridiculous.”

The apartments at Q41 are below market price in Long Island City.

A new “affordable” one bedroom will rent for about $1,800 per month, far less than the average $2,400 most new apartments in the area go for.

But, to even be considered for the “affordable” apartment, a lottery applicant must have a minimum income of $75,000.

Barika Williams, Policy Director at the Association For Neighborhood and Housing Development, says most New Yorkers just don’t make enough money to meet the federal guidelines for affordable housing which are based on the area’s median income.

“We’re a low and moderate income city when it comes to housing speak, as opposed to being a middle income city,” Williams said.

Part of the problem with middle income affordable housing is determining exactly what “middle-income” means.  Here in New York, that salary is calculated by using the entire tri-state area — which means wealthier suburbs like Westchester and Long Island help inflate median salaries here in New York City. That allows developers to charge more for apartments and also require a higher salary to qualify.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has been a staunch advocate for changing the way we define exactly what housing is affordable.

In a statement de Blasio said, “Affordable housing must really be affordable. New York City desperately needs new zoning rules to require that developers include housing working New Yorkers can actually afford.”

Williams agrees.

“Teachers, firefighters, students coming out of school, seniors on fixed income, folks who just got married and had a baby and still have student loans, it’s everybody.”

And without them having a place to live, many New Yorkers agree, the city wouldn’t be a place worth living.


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