Fair Housing, Or Affordable Housing? Pick One

Two shoes dropped in the wake of last week’s disparate impact ruling by the Supreme Court. The Anti-Discrimination Center filed suit, Tuesday, against the City’s policy of offering a local preference in affordable housing lotteries. The objection is that when new buildings are built in largely white neighborhoods, the preference for existing area residents favors whites. On the flip side, elimination of the local preference would destroy one of the City’s major tools for overcoming local opposition to affordable housing projects. Displacement is the first objection many neighborhoods raise to development. Meanwhile, HUD released a new rule on Wednesday that requires communities receiving federal housing assistance to submit plans on how they will Affirmatively Further Fair Housing. Local preferences might prove unacceptable under these guidelines as well. And, as reported last month, HUD is seriously considering setting Section 8 Fair Market Rents by zip code rather than metro area, so as to allow recipients to move into better neighborhoods. Apartment associations are cautioning that this may result in tenants unable to pay the difference between lower voucher amounts and actual current rents in neighborhoods such as the Bronx. The HUD Secretary touted this proposal this week in the context of additional efforts to end discrimination.

In further HUD news, the agency this week released an unsurprising study that found issuing homeless families permanent housing vouchers was more successful  at getting them permanent housing than any form of temporary help such as counseling.

Locally, the Queens housing market is apparently proving that supply and demand theory works. The New York Post reported that Douglas Elliman found average rents in the borough were down 5 percent from a year ago. And, while median luxury rentals were essentially unchanged, the ‘entry level’ high end rent was down almost 10 percent due to an ‘influx of inventory.’

Yesterday, Mayor de Blasio held a press conference trumpeting the removal of 8 miles of sidewalk sheds at public housing projects where there was no active construction. There was no discussion of whether the work was done, whether unsafe conditions remained, or whether the City would have to pay to put them back soon.

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