Riverside tests out controversial MIH track for Bed-Stuy project

Apr.April 06, 2017 11:50 AM
Rose Castle

378 Flushing Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant

Riverside Developers is planning a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing project in Bedford-Stuyvesant where most of the residents will earn more than the area median income.

The developer is seeking to rezone sites at Flushing and Franklin avenues as part of the MIH “workforce option,” Politico reported. This track was designed to benefit middle-class tenants by setting the affordable requirement at an average of 115 percent of the area median income ($89,355 for a household of three). Riverside will set aside 30 percent of its 296 units for these tenants, while the rest will be market-rate. The City Planning Commission approved the project — two building at 376-378 Flushing Avenue and 43 Franklin Avenue — in March.

This will be the first test of the MIH’s workforce option and highlights the debate over what is meant by “affordable.”

“I believe that people who have higher (incomes) also need assistance, but if they need assistance, we certainly know that people of lower (incomes) also need assistance, and this doesn’t include any of them,” Council member Jumaane Williams, who voted against MIH, said during a recent Council hearing.

Riverside won’t receive any city subsidies for the project. Council member Steve Levin, who represents the area and whose support is crucial for the rezoning to go through, noted that he voted in favor of MIH with the workforce option in mind.

“In going for a project that is not relying on subsidy, I think what’s being put forward is creating some traditionally middle-income (housing),” Levin said. “I don’t think that the project in and of itself would be then the cure-all for affordable housing needs in the neighborhood, and there’s going to continue to be a need for more lower-income housing.”

Two Democratic state senators recently proposed a bill that would change how affordability in housing projects is calculated. AMI is based on how the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s calculations, using a formula that lumps the five boroughs together with Putnam, Westchester and Rockland counties.[Politico] — Kathryn Brenzel

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