This week, affordable housing advocates took to the streets to protest the New York City's plan to sell a blot of land in Brooklyn to a private developer for the whopping price of $1.
The site, 15 Lafayette Avenue, is about as prime as it gets in Brooklyn. It straddles Downtown Brooklyn and the rapidly-gentrifying (pretty-much-already-gentrified) Fort Greene. It's right next to cultural institutions, subway lines, and right across the street from renowned cultural center BAM.
So why is the city selling off the lot for a buck? Mayor Bill De Blasio's office says it's in the name of affordable housing: 49 of the 123 units will be classified as affordable, and the city says that by giving the developer a break on the land, New York won't have to foot the bill for the below-market-rate units.
"Having the ability to provide land at a nominal cost for an affordable housing project helps to greatly reduce the need for direct taxpayer subsidy (i.e. city capital, federal funding, etc.) which can then be used for other affordable housing projects," the Department of Housing Preservation and Development told the New York Observer.
But advocates have questioned whether giving away a piece of land worth many millions of dollars is worth 47 affordable apartments, especially since many of the city's "affordable" apartments are actually meant for families making north of $60,000 a year.
"He's giving away land for $1, why can't that land be given to not for profit?" Marcus Moore of Picture the Homelessness told the Observer. "We know what to do with that land. We could put a dent in this homelessness right now."
The land giveaway is part of De Blasio's strategy to work with developers to increase the amount of affordable housing in the city by requiring that most new developments have about 20 percent affordable apartments. That strategy is controversial, as it's not clear that it will put a big dent in the city's need for affordable housing. And, some say the strategy just allows more luxury housing to be built in previously-affordable neighborhoods.
[Image via Google Maps]