The Peninsula, a new affordable housing project in Hunts Point, will soon begin accepting applications via Housing Connect, the city’s affordable housing portal. But most of the 183 units will be financially out of reach to low-income families, according to city data.
Only one out of five of the apartments in the soon-to-be-completed low-income housing development will be available for families who are homeless or whose income puts them in the lowest income rung. For a family of three, that’s income below $32,220.
Similar patterns can be found in projects dubbed “affordable” throughout the city, according to government data. Surprisingly, even at 20%, The Peninsula will offer more “extremely low-income” units than most publicly subsidized developments.
Who qualifies for apartment units at The Peninsula?
The government subsidizes affordable housing projects like The Peninsula by offering property tax breaks to developers to ensure rents below market rates. Based on the level of subsidy, the city and developer allocate the number of apartments in each income category.
All rents are based on family income relative to the NYC area median income, which is $107,400 for a family of three.
The Peninsula is offering subsidized units for households making between 0% and 80% of the area median income. But just 36 units are reserved for people making less than 30% of the area median income — $32,220 for a family of three or $41,500 for a family of six.
According to census data, half of all family-households in Hunts Point and Mott Haven earned less than $32,026 in 2019. This means that roughly half of all local families are excluded from applying for four-fifths of the affordable housing units at The Peninsula.
Under city policy, half of the apartments are available for people from anywhere, and half are reserved for residents of Bronx Community District 2. But local applicants must still meet the income requirements.
Income Requirements for Apartments at The Peninsula, As % of Area Median Income
The Peninsula is being developed by Mutual Housing Association of New York (MHANY), a non-profit, and Gilbane Development Company. MHANY previously developed another affordable housing project at 700 Manida Street in Hunts Point, which is more focused on extremely low-income residents than The Peninsula.
Ismene Speliotis, MHANY’s executive director, did not respond to requests to comment, but she previously told the Hunts Point Express, “The balance between available public resources and affordability continues to be the ongoing, never-ending discussion and we are doing our best to maintain this balance and push for more resources.”
The office of Bronx Community Board 2, which plays a role in overseeing real estate development in Hunts Point, also did not respond to a request to comment.
How does The Peninsula compare to other new affordable housing across the city?
Government policy and budgets largely determine how much affordable housing is available for the poorest residents in the city.
Recent city administrations have used the affordable housing program as their main tool to combat the city’s ever-rising cost of housing. Other tools – such as public housing and Section 8 vouchers – depend on federal funding and have not been expanded in decades.
Even by offering just 20% of its units to the homeless and lowest income groups, The Peninsula has more units available for these groups compared to other projects built with affordable housing subsidies across the rest of the city.
Since 2014, the city has created 105,935 new affordable housing units for a broad range of income bands — from 0% all the way to 165% of area median income. Just 17.2% of new completed units are for those with extremely low incomes, city-wide. In fact, the city has created more affordable housing for people making more than 80% of area median income than it has for people making less than 30% of area median income.
Income Bands for NYC in 2021 (AMI)
Affordable Housing Across the City
The city’s affordability crisis affects everyone, but it is hardest on the poorest. There is a deficit of over 600,000 housing units that are available and affordable for extremely-low-income households in the New York-Newark-Jersey City area, according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition. As a result, 71% of extremely-low-income families spend more than half of their incomes on housing.
Some boroughs have created more subsidized affordable housing for the poorest than others. In Staten Island, 37% of new affordable housing is for extremely low-income households, compared to just 12% in Queens.
The Bronx has created 31,536 units, 20% of which are dedicated for extremely low incomes. Meanwhile, 23% of affordable housing in Brooklyn is for people who make more than 120% of area median income.
A spokesperson for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development said that the Express’s data analysis is skewed because it is based “on projects that [have been] completed, which is not a full reflection of the city’s Housing New York plan.” Instead, the spokesperson suggested, incomplete projects should also be counted in the analysis.
When The Herald and The Hunts Point Express did so, it found that the city-wide proportion of very-low-income units increased from 20% to 30%, but the proportion of extremely low income units actually decreased – from 17 to 16%.
The following map shows where new affordable housing for extremely-low-income people is concentrated, by neighborhood. In Hunts Point, just 17.2% of new affordable units are for extremely-low-income groups. In Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, the figure is nearly 100%.
Map of New Affordable Housing Units Dedicated to Extremely Low Income Households