Skip to main content

City officials hope to reduce uncertainty for those in affordable housing lotteries, predict only partial solutions

As I recently reported, applicants for affordable housing face anxiety and uncertainty as they go through the lottery process, unsure how long it will take, even putting job or relocation decisions on hold as they await word.

And there's no solution just yet. City officials have produced a report, Improving Access to Affordable Housing Opportunities, which focuses on issues like financial preparedness and education about the lottery process, not the uncertainty faced by applicants.

The report does note, as I pointed out, that applicants expressed confusion regarding the wait:
The overall leasing process can be lengthy, in some instances taking more than a year. Updates about the status of one’s application are not always available, and applicants expressed worry that they were somehow forgotten or were missing emails, voicemails, and/or letters.
A separate document, After You Apply for Affordable Housing, focuses on ensuring that applicants prepare the proper information for their files to be evaluated, but leaves a general explanation about timing: "Interviews are usually scheduled from two to ten months after the application deadline."

So people wonder. As one 535 Carlton lottery applicant recently wrote on a forum for applicants, "I'm thinking about writing to our Mayor, about creating a portal with time frames, updates and status for applicants. This process is too nerve racking and should be a little more transparent once given an interview."

A 461 Dean applicant wrote, "The fact that they don't offer status updates is so lame. The should have a website that informs you of your status. Maybe do everything electronically.... I've been waiting for 5mths its been a nightmare. To be honest, I learned more from people on the forums than I did from Mhny [Mutual Housing Association of New York]."

NYC HDC "working to address" many concerns (but not all)

I queried the New York City Housing Development Corporation (NYC HDC) and got a response:
We are very sympathetic to the anxiety people feel, and are working to address many of the concerns that applicants have expressed in an upgrade of the Housing Connect system. While the changes will provide more information about where applicants are in the process, it is almost impossible to give an accurate status of where someone is in the process because there are so many factors that affect eligibility. We continue to work to standardize and make the process as transparent as possible, and coordinate closely with the marketing agencies to ensure that applicants are notified of their status in as timely a manner as possible.
(Emphasis added)

OK, it may be impossible to give individuals a specific update. But the message suggests that it might be possible to explain the progress in filling available units in a building.

A complex process, and a developer's pushback

The challenge involves the interplay of city agencies--not just NYC HDC but in certain cases New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development--with developers like Greenland Forest City Partners or nonprofit partners like Mutual Housing Association of New York (MHANY).

MHANY, formerly New York ACORN's housing arm, is processing the 84,000 applications for 461 Dean (181 units), the 95,000 applications for 535 Carlton (298 units), and the applications for 38 Sixth (303 units), for which the lottery is in process. (461 Dean is not being built/leased by the joint venture but by Forest City Ratner alone.)

I doubt nonprofits like MHANY have the funding/staff to adequately keep all informed; shouldn't that be the responsibility of the city?

At the recent bimonthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting, I queried a representative for the developer. Noting that I'd read some forums in which lottery applicants for 461 Dean expressed significant anxiety and uncertainty, I asked, "Do you have a sense of how long that move-in--at least for the affordable units--is expected to take?"

"No. But if you do the math,... very single lease has to be approved by the government," responded Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, "and then it turns into a lease, and then it turns into a move-in. Move-ins are based on people's schedules... So, of course no, I can't tell you directly. I get that you read a chat room, where people are annoyed with the process, by the way, that's perfectly reasonable. Everyone loves housing, especially--there's a high demand for affordable housing. I feel impatient too. We are working as fast as possible. We currently have 800 units [actually, about 782] of affordable housing, they’re at different levels of move-in, completion, and construction. So, the team on this, I have full confidence in."

That answer might have been more satisfying had reps from MHANY or NYC HDC contributed.

I tried to follow up: "To clarify, what people have reported, and it's all second-hand, obviously, is some people say it's all going to be done in four months, and some people say they've been told eight to ten months. I'm trying to get a little clarity on that. What's the ballpark figure?"

"I don't know who's saying eight months, and who's saying four. I'm not going to guess at what they're hearing," Cotton responded. "But you could imagine, 800 units... we have a great team working on this. And a really great team on the government side, that has to approve every single applicant. So it's just a machine, where like, we put it in and it comes out... "

Comments from the applicants: timing

Keeping watch on the forums, I've noticed general frustration with the process, and both frustration and praise expressed toward representatives of MHANY and NYC HDC.

One wrote, "It took me 5 months to hear back from them to sign HDC paperwork so you guys shouldn't get discouraged yet."

One applicant reported being told "that its normal to be waiting this long because the process takes anywhere between 2-10 months. Its been 4 mths since I interviewed  Im so anxious."

Comments from the applicants: learning more

Another wrote that a phone call to HDC led to a phone call from MHANY saying the application was approved.

One reported that going "incessantly" to the [presumably MHANY] office was more effective than emails or phone calls, which prompted a response that such actions were both difficult for applicants and also insufferable for those working to process all the applications.

Comments from the applicants: what's the process

Another reported filing a complaint with HDC about "MHANY's inability to communicate effectively, calculate income correctly, etc etc."

Another wrote, "I mean I know people whom have moved into affordable housing apartments and their process was nothing like this.

Another described the process:
Your first "interview" is an intake interview. Someone sits with you and goes through a checklist to make sure you have brought all the necessary paperwork. They may inspect some of your paperwork in front of you but usually it's just a preliminary interview to collect your information.
Then, depending on your log #, the management company starts reviewing applicants and all of their paperwork and deems whether or not you qualify for the next step. This step is where many people get weeded out for various reasons, and also when rejection letters get sent out. HDC DOES NOT SEND OUT REJECTION LETTERS - only the management company does.
If you make it through the management company first round, you will then be contacted to come in and either clarify certain aspects of your paperwork and/or sign further paperwork which allows them to submit your paperwork to HDC. This is what happened with me last week.
Once your papers are sent to HDC, the average response time is 1-3 weeks, however that can take much longer. Once your paperwork is at HDC it is out of your hands and all you can do is wait. When HDC decides to review your paperwork they can ask for further clarifications or they can deny or approve you.
If approved from HDC you are basically good to go, as long as there is an apartment available for you. The management company will call or email you to let you know whether or not you've been approved and the next contact will be from the building management in order setup an appointment to come in and view an apartment and sign a lease.
The confusing part for me and which you might also be surprised by was being asked to view an apartment before my paperwork has been approved or denied by HDC. That part is unusual. My only guess is that the building is behind schedule and they are looking to fill the first six floors ASAP in order to start collecting some rent. But like I said previously, the building does not look close to being ready for occupancy and I'm sure the majority of move-ins wont take place until at least a few months from now.
At least, a community of sorts

Given the long odds applicants face, most won't win the lottery.

One summed up the frustration, at least for the large majority who didn't win: "The end of this Summer, we need to have a loser log party for all of us who went through this grueling crap and wound up with nothing."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

So, Forest City has some property subject to the future Gowanus rezoning

Writing yesterday, MAP: Who Owns All the Property Along the Gowanus Canal, DNAinfo's Leslie Albrecht lays out the positioning of various real estate players along the Gowanus Canal, a Superfund site:
As the city considers whether to rezone Gowanus and, perhaps, morph the gritty low-rise industrial area into a hot new neighborhood of residential towers (albeit at a fraction of the height of Manhattan's supertall buildings), DNAinfo reviewed property records along the canal to find out who stands to benefit most from the changes.
Investors have poured at least $440 million into buying land on the polluted waterway and more than a third of the properties have changed hands in the past decade, according to an examination of records for the nearly 130 properties along the 1.8-mile canal. While the single largest landowner is developer Property Markets Group, other landowners include Kushner Companies, Alloy Development, Two Trees, and Forest City New York.

Forest City's plans unc…