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Tracking Affordable Housing Construction In New York City


New York City multifamily construction continues to boom. From Q1 2014 to Q1 2017, permits were approved for just under 100,000 residential units, the highest in a decade.

But the flurry of development has come with mounting pressure for affordable housing. Access to housing for low-income and middle class New Yorkers has become a necessary function of solving the city’s housing shortage. 

Under Housing New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years. Forty percent of those units will come from new construction. 

"Since the start of the program, 25,342 affordable units have been constructed, and accounted for 21% of new residential units approved by the city," GFI Realty Services analyst Justin Fitzsimmons said. 

Tracking the number of permits approved by the city of New York for residential development helps map the volume of affordable housing projects coming online. Over the last three years, NYC has seen a concentration of new residential construction in the Bronx and Brooklyn.

Of the approximately 21,000 affordable units approved within this period, 39% were in the Bronx, according to research from GFI.  

In the Bronx, median household income hovers around $35K, compared to an average of $68K across the New York Metropolitan Area. The income gap highlights a priority for low-income housing in the borough, in line with the Housing New York plan to provide units to tenants making between 51% and 80% of the area median income. 

A new multifamily development in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

Monadnock Development’s 1,300-unit Compass Residences at 172nd Street broke ground in January 2014, taking advantage of rezoned industrial land along the Sheridan Expressway. The first two buildings opened in November 2016, with 237 apartments available to New Yorkers making under 60% AMI.

Monadnock announced in August that it would add an additional structure to the eight-building complex. The property will bring 366 affordable residential units to the project. 

The developer is also behind affordable housing projects in the East New York section of Brooklyn, which accounted for 29% of affordable units coming online in the city, Fitzsimmons said. Monadnock plans to build 240 affordable units across 21 buildings in the neighborhood.

Interest in the neighborhood comes as city officials explore opportunities to create new mixed-use and affordable housing in the area. 

Brooklyn and the Bronx have seen the majority of affordable development and have been the focus of public-private partnerships. The city selected seven different companies to construct 400 affordable units across the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

The initiative makes use of city-owned lots across Brownsville, Bed-Stuy and East New York in Brooklyn, Fordham and Melrose in the Bronx and Central Harlem in Manhattan. 

Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island accounted for 19%, 11% and 2% of new affordable units, respectively. The differences in construction volume compared to Brooklyn and the Bronx could correspond to the boroughs’ respective median incomes. Staten Island residents have the highest median household income, at almost $72K. Manhattan residents average a $67K annual income, while Queens inhabitants take home an average of $54K per year. 

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