Redefining Affordability in the Most Expensive Neighborhoods

Ryan Hutchins reports on the details of a recent negotiation between Helen Rosenthal, Upper West Side City Council representative, and the developer of a 1,000-unit residential project in Hell's Kitchen.

The negotiations between Councilmember Rosenthal and TF Cornerstone hinged on two thresholds of affordability. With regard to the first, "Rosenthal told TF Cornerstone that the threshold to qualify for the least-expensive units—the ones that would be set-aside for some of the poorest New Yorkers—should be raised." So "[she] increased the eligibility cut-off from 40 percent of area median income, or A.M.I., to 60 percent." 

Then comes the second question of affordability —namely, what it takes for middle-class, or upper middle-class, families to live in extremely expensive neighborhoods like the Upper West Side. The increased level of the lowest threshold of affordability, "allowed [Rosenthal] to negotiate more 'affordable' units for much-higher-income families. Rosenthal told the developer to dedicate 10,000 square feet, or about 20 more units, for moderate-income households…Those new units will be dedicated to households making between 175 percent and 230 percent of the A.M.I."

Hutchins goes into a lot more detail about the political blowback and other implications of the deal between Rosenthal and the developer.

Full Story: Defining ‘affordability’ upward


building block set

NEW! Build the world you want to see

Irresistible block set for adults when placed on a coffee table or desk, and great fun for kids.

Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245

NEW! Get the "Green Bible"

Understand the complexities of planning at the local level while preparing for the AICP* exam. Find out why this edition is included in the APA's recommended reading list.
Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

The Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs is the only comprehensive ranking and listing of graduate urban planning programs available.
Starting at $24.95