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Housing Lottery For New Sunnyside Development Raises Questions About Affordability

Outside Sunnyside Point at 47-16 Greenpoint Ave. (Photo: Nathaly Pesantez)

Sept. 6, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez

A new housing lottery at an upcoming building in Sunnyside has left many bewildered over its eligibility guidelines, with claims that the available units are anything but affordable, and indicative of an unfolding crisis in the city.

The city opened up a housing lottery last week for three middle-income units at “Sunnyside Point,” the 10-unit, four-story building still under construction at 47-16 Greenpoint Ave.

The affordable units—one one-bedroom and two two-bedrooms—have a monthly rent of $2,251 and $2,714, respectively.

As for income requirements, one person, for instance, would need a salary between $77,178 and $95,030 to qualify for the one-bedroom apartment offered in the lottery.

Reactions to the housing lottery, in a neighborhood with a median income of around $57,000 and still unaccustomed to seeing even average market-rate rents at those prices (a sizable one-bedroom typically goes up to $2,150), were swift.

“None of this is affordable,” one Facebook user wrote on the Sunnyside Post’s article on the lottery.

“My one bedroom is nearly half of this in Sunnyside and I split!” another Facebook user wrote. “That is absolutely not affordable.”

Brent O’Leary, president of the Hunters Point Civic Association and City Council candidate, slammed the “so-called” affordable housing lottery during a last-minute press conference a week ago.

A press conference organized by City Council candidate Brent O’Leary against the affordable housing lottery at the building pictured left. (Photo: Nathaly Pesantez)

“Right now, there are thousands of Sunnyside and Woodside residents who are deeply afraid of being priced out of their own neighborhood, and by claiming that $2,300 a month should be considered affordable is a slap in the face to all the people who call this neighborhood home,” O’Leary said.

Yet the three available units have been labeled as such, with the developer to receive an as-of-right tax exemption through the state’s 421a program, administered by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The three units will also be rent stabilized and subject to rent stabilization laws.

The 421a program grants partial tax breaks for a period of about 10 to 15 years to developers who provide a percentage of affordable units in newly-constructed buildings.

The developer, AB Capstone, chose an affordability option that sets aside 30 percent of units to households making 130 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) in order to get to tax break.

While AMI is set by the federal government, the city is required to use these figures when dealing with affordable housing.

When asked about the backlash to the housing lottery in Sunnyside, the HPD said units around the city are made available to people in several income tiers.

“The Housing New York plan builds and preserves affordable housing for a wide range of New Yorkers, with the majority of the homes serving low income residents,” said Matthew Creegan, HPD spokesperson.

For Lisa Deller, chair of Community Board 2’s Land Use committee with a deep background in affordable housing, the Sunnyside Point housing lottery shows issues with the 421a program and affordable housing in the city.

“They’re getting a lot of tax benefits for three units. I mean, really?” Deller said. “That’s pretty unconscionable, to just get a large tax abatement for three units. We can do better.”

Deller said the 421a program should require more affordable units and at deeper income levels to truly be considered a public investment in exchange for tax breaks. She pointed to the existing struggles residents within Community Board 2 are going through, where 45 percent of households are considered rent burdened as they are spending more than 35 percent of their income on rent.

Additionally, Deller questions whether the 421a program in a city continuously growing ever skyward is actually needed.

“421a used to be for very distressed neighborhoods to incentivize developers to work there,” she said. “These aren’t distressed neighborhoods. Do we really need to incentivize them here? I don’t think we do.”

While the area has yet to see many developments and affordable housing lotteries spring up compared to neighborhoods like Greenpoint and Long Island City, several are already in the pipeline, and the neighborhood’s growing profile will likely bring more of these developments—with similar prices and affordable units—soon.

Sunnyside Point is expected to open its residential portion in March 2019. It’s market-rate units, based on listings on apartments.com, range from $2,400 for a studio and $4,000 for a two-bed, two bath.

Sunnyside Point, at 47-16 Greenpoint Ave., seen from Queens Boulevard (Photo: Nathaly Pesantez)

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35 Comments

Gerald

Anyone who follows these housing availabilities should know it’s all BS. I’m a NYC employee, should get a 5% advantage on housing opportunities, and after 15 years of applying have never received one call. Plus half of all these “affordable housing” are not affordable at all! No surprise here….




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Sunnyside Optimist

421-a is overseen by the state, not the city. I don’t think Van Bramer had anything to do with these rents.
https://therealdeal.com/2017/04/09/its-back-lawmakers-revive-421a-as-affordable-ny/
Notwithstanding the massive changes that are happening in our neighborhood, and the belief by the developer and their lenders that they can actually achieve these high “affordable” and market rents, this program does lock in the lower rent band for the 3 units for the long term, when market rate rents could conceivably look like Williamsburg’s. If you believe that more units should be locked into affordability, it might make sense to talk to your state rep.




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Happy

Well hard working middle class who saved and bought in neighborhoods are happy rents are going up that means property values up about time the little guy makes some money




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Immoral Society

Not necessarily. Perhaps today. If you can’t afford to live there, move. Think outside the box or you’ll always be poor and insignificant. Capitalism favors those who are creative and make a sacrifice. Sorry you wasted all your money on small desires. If you don’t like it move to China.




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VelvetKnight

That’s exactly the problem. It used to be that a simple factory job could let you buy a home and support a family. By definition, “the little guy.”

Now, many families can barely afford to rent with both parents working, and billionaires think raising minimum wage is them being “greedy takers.”




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rgs uptown

ha! ha! ha! all that and you get to listen to the 7 train and the lovely roar of traffic on queens blvd 24 hours a day! just love affordable housing in sunnyside! nice work deblasio and JVB! thanks for keeping the working class in mind!




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silent majority

Also don’t forget about the MET projects right down the road. some Millennial will rent it until they are robbed then cry about it. Reap what you sow.




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sarac

have a monthly rent of $2,251 and $2,714, respectively. who the hell can afford that.the upper middle class . That is not Sunnyside. I do not know anyone who lives alone. they just cannot afford to.




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sarac

I think it is disgusting how they are charging these ridiculous rents and expect people to survive. DiBlasio and Van Bramer should be ashamed. What about the hard working people who make 40 to 50 a year where do they fir in to this. where is the middle ground.




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A Woodsider

Property taxes, the cost of heat, water, electricity, maintaining a building, etc. are all rising. The “up keep” of our politicians ( pay, insurance coverage, etc.) are going up. The cost of supporting “the world” (welfare, homeless, undocumented aliens, etc.) is going up. Everyone living here who is NOT above mentioned have to pay or become one of the above mentioned. Anyone surprised? We are ALLOWING THIS TO HAPPEN!




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Hair On Fire!

Our politicians are the only ones who can do anything at all to stop this. And where are they? Walking hand in hand with the marauders. Joe Crowley, JVB and Joe Conley of CB2 led us like sheep to the slaughter. Denise can’t undo the damage Crowley did in a decade or more of covert cooperation. The original Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. JVB is just a shorter version of the same thing and we have to put up with him for another few years. Shite!




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SurfeRoss

Let the experiment begin!

I’m interested to see if there’s demand for such a thing. That corner is not desirable to live on. And the people who are moving to this neighborhood, aren’t looking to pay w-burg prices for not a w-burg scene.

It’s a product for a market that doesn’t exist. And I think that’s what is agitating residents – the developers don’t understand this neighborhood.




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Sunnyside

I live literally across the street and pay exactly as much. Demand is definitely there. The neighborhood is getting better.




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SunnysideEye

HA, I live on 46th & Greenpoint (down the block & a much more desireable corner) in a newly renovated 1 br apartment and pay $1800. I guess the developers are looking for jackasses like you!




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Sunnysider

*sips tea from terrace with floor to ceiling windows, while in-unit laundry does its job, and new restaurants move in* you guys are totally right. totally right.




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user 1

The 7 train is right there – the need does exist. Sunnyside is like bushwick is to williamsburg – if you can’t afford LIC – sunnyside is your next best option to be in with the hot zone.




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gadg

More like LIC -> Astoria -> Sunnyside

As long as LIC keeps building the rents will only creep up here slowly. Bushwick and Greenpoint are being hammered currently, because Williamsburg essentially capped their density, so the demand is being pushed outward.




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gadg

Yeah, the units look like they’re overpriced by around $500 and being on that corner you could probably knock another $100 off that.

I think we should upzone the area nearby 33 st station and build big towers there so all the rich yuppies can buy apartments there instead of driving up rents further into Queens. This is one of the reason I like that LIC exists, because without it I imagine rents in Sunnyside would be even higher.




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typical liberals, lets make everything free!!

in my bldg in sunnyside one bedroom sare going for 2100-2200
This is the going rate




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truth hurts

typical conservative: i don’t want to admit i’m a sucker, so everyone else must be wrong!




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Gerry

Makes you wonder why developers aren’t out there building brand new buildings and charging the same rate as the old apartment someone’s lived in for 15 years? It’s almost as if they are incurring some coat to build these projects.




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Joseph Pio

In with the new, out with the old… No reason Sunnyside residents shouldn’t enjoy the area becoming more upscale! People with money will bring change for the better. New stores, restaurants, schools etc… are a good thing.




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Kyle

Well, that’s the point – they won’t be able to enjoy it as all of these supposed improvements will lead to their dismissal from their neighborhood. As for these improvements, I’ll pass – walk in any “good” neighborhood in NYC and all you’ll see is “retail space for lease” signs on storefronts that actually used to be you, you know, actual stores. No thanks.




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Boo hoo

That’s all you’ve seen since the BID went through. Tons of commercial real estate that sits empty until yet another bank or cvs/rite aid/duane reade is put in. Rents go up and nothing to show for it.




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Ande

I know friends/neighbors who are already priced out and looking at neighborhoods further into Queens along the 7. I love living in Sunnyside; I have a community here, but every year the rent increases, my pay does not, and affording to live there gets less viable.




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Flores 360

Welcome to the world of Bill de Blasio, where his ideas are forced down our throats despite controversies.




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fdasga

Building new housing where there wasn’t housing before isn’t pricing people out.

If you want cheaper housing allow massive towers in the area to be built.




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JAMES EDSTROM

ALL A SHAM, BUT WE ARE SURE VAN BRAMER SUPPORTED THIS, IT’S HIS NEIGHBORHOOD. GOD FORBID HE HAD LOW INCOME PEOPLE AROUND HIM.




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Progressive in Sunnyside

Mr photo op JVB is a snob and a racist posing as a progressive. He is probably riding the train with Cynthia Nixon taking photos as they never mention low income affordable housing in Sunnyside.




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gdfagh

“Affordable” private housing will never ever exist.

The only solution we have is a mixture of massive upzonings to lower the price of market rate units and a large expansion of public housing programs, we’re doing neither.




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