Housing lottery sparks outrage in Greenpoint

As new development continues along the North Brooklyn waterfront in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, the conversation often turns to affordability. Such was the case this past week when a lottery opened for affordable units in the Two Blue Slip building on Greenpoint Landing. Two Blue Slip is a 39-story residential tower that is part of the ongoing Greenpoint Landing complex at the very northern tip of Brooklyn. Designed by Handel Architects and managed by Park Tower Group, the massive project plans to erect seven mixed-use buildings within the decade.
Two Blue Slip is the first of these buildings to open, with a grand total of 359 units. To ensure that local residents could reap the benefits of the new tower, 127 units (including 35 studios, 35 one-bedroom units, and 25 two-bedroom units) were set aside for a special affordable housing lottery.
However, outrage broke out as soon as the process started this past week, with critics expressing dismay at monthly rents that start at $2,370 and go as high as $3,530.
The rents are based on the average median income (AMI), which the city uses to determine affordable housing prices includes all of the five boroughs. But the inclusion of wealthier areas in Manhattan and beyond the city’s limits leads to high prices for units in other parts of the city, often barring local residents from moving into new developments in their own neighborhoods.
The lottery for Two Blue Slip was set to an AMI of 130 percent, a high number but one that is not unusual. This equates to an eligible household income range between $81,258 and $192,400 for affordable units in the building.
Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher took to Twitter to express her dissatisfaction with the lottery.
“More than 80 percent of jobs in Brooklyn pay less than the minimum eligible salary ($81,258/year) to qualify for these units,” Gallagher wrote.
She specifically called out 421-a, a property tax exemption policy at the state level that gives real estate developers decades worth of tax breaks for building new multi-family residential buildings with at least 10 to 15 percent affordable housing units.
“Neoliberal housing policy is giving massive public subsidies to private developers so they submit a handful of units few can afford into a lottery where the chance of winning is 0.1689 percent,” Gallagher continued. “421-a is a bad joke.”
As for Two Blue Slip and the greater Greenpoint Landing Project, Park Tower Group recently secured an additional $170 million in funding from New York City’s Housing Preservation and Development Corporation to help with construction of the additional towers.

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