Promoting Equity in Subsidized Housing

As the real estate market begins to rebound, many affordable housing advocates and developers in NYC are calling for a modification of the 80/20 program.
September 9, 2011, 9am PDT | Jeff Jamawat
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The 80/20 affordable housing policy requires the developer to set aside 20% of new units for low-income tenants "making less than 50% of the area's median income," explains Marc Santora. As a result, "people from both extremes of the income scale live across the hall from one another" in Manhattan, creating the social and economic mixture in different neighborhoods.

Critics of the program identify two key elements that they find problematic. On the one hand, "it often does not make economic sense since it can cost three times more and provides fewer apartments than a traditional mid-rise dedicated to affordable housing," reasons Jeffrey Levine.

Additionally, the program raises the question of equitable appropriation of government subsidies. Ingrid Gould Ellen of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at NYU elaborates:

"How much are we willing to pay to create diversity? When you have a lot of need, should you put all the resources on serving the very neediest? Or should you have a broader approach, one that includes the upper middle class? It is something the city has been trying to balance."

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Published on Friday, September 2, 2011 in The New York Times
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