By Joe Danielewicz
At a ground-breaking in mid-February, Mayor Michael Bloomberg explained the importance of the city’s newest housing development.
“Hunters Point South is the first large scale, middle class development to be built in our city in more than three and a half decades,” said Bloomberg.
The last large affordable housing developments were Co-Op City and Starrett City. In housing terms, “affordable” generally means costing 30% or less of your income on shelter. 60% of the 5000 homes at Hunters Point South will be set aside for middle income families. The rest will be available at market rates.
Hunters point south is part of Long Island City, it’s mainly a bundle of industrial building on the East River…Trucks and the occasional semi make up most of the traffic…But when the project is complete, this will be landscaped with water-front walkways, a new public school and new store fronts.
Some Queens residents say they want to move to Hunters Point South, but can’t afford it.
“Queens residents had a lot of hope about Hunter’s Point South,” said Farzana Morshed, who organized residents in 2008 to fight for more a bigger share of affordable housing when the plan was first debated. Morshed says she needs affordable housing.
“When we think about food cloths, and house rent, it is too difficult to survive,” said Morshed.
Morshed and other people in Queens have two problems with the development: Number one – not enough units were created…
“We see it as a drop in the bucket,” said Morshed.
Anna Dioguardi is the director for “community organizing and development” at Queens Community House – an advocacy and social services group.
“It’s complicated to understand the allotments of housing at, the most staggering thing is there’s no apartments for families earning $25,000 or less,” said Dioguardi.
And that leads to problem number two – the income limits on the development don’t match the community make up.
Queen’s median household income is 55-thousand dollars a year… the income range for “affordability” at hunters point south will start at $55,000 to $158,000 for a family of four. That leaves half of Queens residents out in the cold.
Judy Calogero is the CEO for the New York Housing Conference – a group that researches and advocates for affordable housing. She says developments sometimes need a mix of incomes to get off the ground or remain viable…
“It’s easy for anyone of us to say that ‘gee I wish that 50% or 75% of the units at Hunters Point would be to serve people that are below 60% of median income,’ that would be a great goal to do, but what is the cost of doing that?” said Calogero.
And Calogero says the income range is by design.
“There is a desire to have a mix. And not just have it be exclusively just one income group whether they’re middle income, or low income or upper income,” said Calogero.
For some families – the cheaper rent from new construction works in their favor. Lisa Desimone moved from the East Village to Williamsburg in September.
“I was paying $1,000 for 450 square feet but I was in a tenement slum filled with mice and a landlord that didn’t take care of anything,” said Desimone.
Now Desimone rents a 2 bedroom with her husband and daughter for 12-hundred dollars at The Edge apartment along the waterfront.…
Farzana Morshed still feels left-out from the affordable housing debate.
“You know, working families – city needs working families, city needs immigrant.. without working families, the city can’t build it’s economy very good,” said Morshed.
For the time being… Morshed and her husband have decided hold off starting a family… Morshed says she just can’t afford it.
“I’ve been married five years. I need a baby, but I can’t. I have work. So if I work, how can I have a baby? said Morshed.
The first part of construction at Hunters Point is scheduled to this month… with the first apartment buildings finished in 2014.