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Local legislators introduce bill to reform how AMI is calculated for ‘affordable housing’

Hunters Point South

Feb. 22, 2017 By Christian Murray

Two Queens legislators have introduced a bill that would change how ‘affordability’ is determined for affordable housing developments.

State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblyman Brian Barnwell have introduced legislation that would require developers to calculate who qualifies for affordable housing based on the average median income (AMI) of the zip code where the project is built.

Their bill, which has been introduced in both the state senate and assembly, would require developers to provide affordable housing at these revised income levels in order to qualify for the state’s handsome 421 A tax break.

Currently, the AMI is determined by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development formula that is based on the average income of residents in the five boroughs, along with Westchester, Putnam, and Rockland counties.

Therefore, the AMI figure used for affordable developments in Queens is the same as that for the affluent counties as Putnam and Rockland. For 2016, HUD placed the region’s AMI at $65,200

Barnwell, a freshman who represents Woodside and Maspeth, said that the AMI calculation does not have to be determined on HUD.

“We can say if you [the developers] want the tax break use the AMI of the zip code,” Barnwell said.

Barnwell anticipates the bill will receive a lot of push back from the real estate industry since it will lower the AMI in many cases.

Barnwell said that some developers might say that they won’t be able to build if the AMI is lowered, arguing that their rental income would be less.

However, Barnwell said this does not concern him. He said that if the developers don’t build then it is less likely that lifelong residents will be forced out due to gentrification.

Assemblyman Brian Barnwell (represents Woodside, Maspeth)

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Do you people realize what things cost today?? Perhaps if you weren’t jaded by a artificially low rent of $1300 per month you would realize the actual cost of an apartment. If you can’t afford it, there are many other places to live. Not everyone can afford the perk of living so close to the city and that’s OK. I can afford an apartment with a view of Central Park and so I understand I can’t live there. I do t have the crazy notion that someone should charge me less because I can’t pay the going rent. That’s life


I pay $1300 for my rent-stabilized apartment. I “won the lottery” for a chance to pay over $2000 to move.

Sunnyside Love Me Long Time

I think it’s more important that they address WHAT affordable housing is. When the lottery for the last housing units to open in L.I.C. the price of a one bedroom was over $3,000. That is not affordable housing. That’s a jack.

Sunnyside Love Me Long Time

Actually Anonymous if you read between the lines this is a convoluted effort by developers to push through a new 421A tax break for developers. If you’re familiar with that now lapsed tax it put millions in the pockets of developers while costing us, the taxpayers dearly. They’re trying to hide the fact that rent stabilized apartments are moved off the list at the Landlords discretion instead of the City’s after tax breaks are received. This ploy id trying to fool the public into thinking hey, they are actually going to link affordable housing to the median income of the neighborhood. So let’s say this gets done and it’s discovered the actual cost of a one bedroom is $2,000 a month instead of $3,000 a month. What good does that do the renter if five years later the Landlord can take the apartment off the list and move it to market rent without oversight by the Housing Commission ? Gothamist has been following this chicanery pretty closely. Here’s a link to an interesting article:


agreed. we qualified for hunters point south – the one bedroom was about half the size of what we have now, shoddily constructed and almost twice the rent….they seemed shocked that we turned it down….!


That sounds fabulous! Please do all you can to make this come true. It would go a long way toward helping us feel like valuable people again. With the REB taking over NYC we all started to feel like garbage about to go down the shoot.


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