Brooklynites React to Affordable Housing Plan


The New York Times spoke to a few people in the areas most likely to be affected by Mayor de Blasio’s plan to upzone Brooklyn to construct more affordable housing. The gist of it is that people welcome new buildings if they are truly affordable, create jobs and are a reasonable height — four stories, not 40.

New housing should not overwhelm the neighborhood’s character, one resident, Tommy Smiling, said as he stood outside a bodega on Pitkin Avenue. In swiftly gentrifying parts of Brooklyn like Clinton Hill, where Mr. Smiling’s son lives, “it’s all brownstones, and then you have this skyscraper,” he said. “I’m not into that. Four stories? O.K., that’s not bad.”

Pardon Me for Asking Blogger Katia Kelly believes the plan is a giveaway to developers under the guise of affordable housing. “It’s, ‘The developers want to build — let’s tack on a couple of apartments here that are affordable,'” she said. Most interviewed said construction must be accompanied by appropriate increases in transportation, schools and sewers. The de Blasio plan allows for that, according to the Times.

For our part, we are concerned the plan could Manhattanize the outer boroughs without making a dent in affordability. Rezonings could produce a ton of ultra-expensive high-rise housing that will vastly increase housing costs in ungentrified areas such as along Atlantic Avenue and Broadway from Barclays Center and the BQE into East New York. (Above, Broadway Junction, where Broadway, Fulton and Atlantic intersect on the borders of Bushwick, Ocean Hill, Brownsville and East New York.) With no set proportion of affordable units, there could be opportunities for abuse and corruption. There’s also a practicality issue: How will the city have time to review every as-of-right development?

What’s your opinion?

With Caution, a Poor Corner of Brooklyn Welcomes an Affordable Housing Plan [NY Times]

28 Comment

  • I’ve been reading the PDF of the plan (available at I’m particularly concerned about the changes in zoning and land use, a lot of which seem nearsighted and bound to cause issues in the future. Also concerned that there is a prevailing sense of “built baby, build,” that doesn’t take into consideration the character of the neighborhood or any architectural standards. For someone who lives close to the Broadway corridor, that’s a scary thought. Don’t’ particularly want a giant tower in my back yard. I can feel a strong case of NIMBY coming on.

  • Yes NIMBY the persistent chant of those who demand a solution to everything…..somewhere else.

  • Does Katia Kelly have any credibility left at all????? Does she really understand anything????

  • Housing has always been an issue that has bedeviled NYC. The new approach to urban planning emanating from places like Harvard seeks to add density. Lots of it. The sky’s the limit. According to brainiacs like Edward Glaeser, author of “Triumph of the City” the things that many of us like about city life such as brownstones, and historic districts, are actually what are wrong with our cities. Brownstones are inefficient use of city real estate. 80-story towers are much more efficient. According to him, one of the reasons NYC has such a housing crisis is because of neighborhoods like Park Slope and Fort Greene, all that prime urban land being taken up by quaint low-density Victorian row houses. Glaeser raises many good points but turns a blind eye on the many positives of preserving established neighborhoods in older cities let alone preserving low to medium density. This is the current thinking and the Mayor’s office is plugged into it. We will see how it all works in reality.

    • there are many examples of lower income housing projects that are just not the right solutions. NYC “PJs” as they are referred to boing some. Cabrini Green in Chicago being the most egregious. Arent there a lot of studies out there that show how lower density works better? Philly’s approach to building townhouses (Philly has the land available) seems to be a much better solution. Higher density can backfire badly.

    • ah, academics. Things always work out so well on paper (traffic circle, I’m looking at you).
      In reality, neighborhoods need to be places where people what to live. The idea of stashing everyone in towers – while certainly efficient – is also likely to be unpleasant to many (myself included). So much for neighborhood character…

  • my opinion is that ‘Manhattanize’ is provincial and meaningless term and should be avoided. And if you look around this city you’ll see plenty of highrises that are not in so-called ‘non-gentrified’ neighborhoods and not occupied by gentry.

  • Building affordable housing in NYC only helps a very small percentage of low income “lottery winners” who manage to get one of these great deals. Most of the lower and middle class is left sharing small expensive walk-up tenement apartments if they want to stay in the city.

    De Blasio’s promise to reduce “inequality” in NYC is pure political gimmickry. The only way for folks who can’t afford to live in NYC to afford decent housing is for them to move out of the city. It sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.

    Most politicians will promise anything to get elected. De Blasio is full of s#$t like the rest of them.

  • The easiest way to reduce “inequality” would be for De Blasio and his Merry Men to outlaw foreigners from buying property in NYC. The NYC real estate market would tank immediately and affordability, De Blasio’s self-proclaimed goal, would be achieved!

  • This plan isnt a plan but an idea for a plan. Like most of the other announcements from the Mayor, he declares victory before the work has even started. (See the announcement regarding the UFT contract – real numbers, please, or the LICH “victory,” or the UPK win, etc., etc). My main takeaway from the $41 billion “plan” is that it counts on huge support from the State and even more from the private sector that may not materialize. Also, as others have pointed out, we need to see details – City Planning is just beginning its work on rezonings of 12 areas. That process takes time but we have a Mayor saying we have the solution to the affordability problem