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The Call Blog: What Qualifies As "Affordable Housing" In New York City?

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Have something to tell us at The Call? Drop us a line at and we'll post it to our blog.

If you listen to our viewers, you can add affordable housing to the list of issues that need improvement. Many say they are struggling to make their rent payments each month. What can Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio do? The market may have more say than he does...

As the first week at the "Talking Transition" tent drew to a close today, the focus turned to affordable housing. A panel discussion was held to share ideas about ways to make living in New York City more reasonable. The goal of the two-week conversation is to present ideas to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio in hopes of influencing policy.

The high cost of living in New York City was a frequent discussion on the campaign trail this summer and fall. All the mayoral candidates pledged to build more affordable housing in the five boroughs, and most criticized Mayor Bloomberg's administration for not doing enough to keep rents low. What do you say?

What message would you like to get to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio when it comes housing? How much of your paycheck goes to rent? What qualifies as affordable housing in New York City? What grade does Mayor Bloomberg deserve for his management of the real estate market the last 12 years?

Send your thoughts using the link above.

Hi John

Mayor Bloomberg deserves a "D" when it comes to creating affordable housing he only believes in building luxury high rises for the rich. I know Mayor-elect Diblasio will create affordable housing for the middle class, he wont close hospitals to build luxury high-rises As jimmy Mac said "the rents are to dam high"

Upper west side


Bloomberg gets an F on 99% of what he has done. To decrease housing cost, cut taxes and get the government out of real estate.

Port Richmond, SI

Hi John,

I have resided in my studio apartment for a little over four years. Though I am in a rent-stabilized apartment, I cannot afford the $1300 I am being charged for rent. No raises in four years, and an exorbitant amount of debt has brought me to a place of despair. I have never experienced any legal action being taken against me, but it looks like luck may have run out.

I am disgusted, ashamed, and this is all happening to me in a city I was born, raised, educated in, and currently work for. What gives? I have had a rent increase every year. When can decent, hard-working, law-abiding citizens get a break?

Mayor-elect DiBlasio and his team must come up with solutions, incentives, and givebacks for municipal workers. People like me are struggling everyday to make ends meet. He must either abolish the RGB, or mandate a freeze on increases next year. And we must, must, must get a retroactive raise!

If the city's projected $2 billion budget deficit is true, too many of us will be finding it difficult to rebound in such an economic climate.

Coney Island-Brighton Beach

Something that many of us cannot afford.

Rosalie from Brooklyn

Hi John,

That “Talking Transition” was not set up for all New Yorkers to attend and be heard. Each politician takes care of their own. They have their street fairs, parties, etc. What the high cost of living is to politicians is not the same for the citizens of New York that have lived here all their lives. Bloomberg was a disaster in every aspect of his administration without a doubt. DeBlasio was already involved in housing one way or another and whatever office he has served he has done absolutely nothing for the housing situation in New York. How about NYCHA? That was so appalling to see the devastation that was allowed to continue for so many years. I do know this mayor elect has ruffled feathers on wall street and some CEO’s, etc. from huge companies felt that they might up and leave New York because they have to much invested and have huge employee payrolls. DeBlasio made a remark about government control, for business something to that effect.

Thank you John,

Thousands of seniors are on the cliff of homelessness as about 90,000 seniors pay more than 50% of their income in rent. What else aren't they buying in order to pay the rent - food, medicine? Freeze the rent. Affordable housing has to include older New Yorkers. A fixed income is a fixed income.

Sheepshead Bay


If NYCHA can't keep up with its maintenance load and so many people are shut out of the projects anyway, why don't they just give out vouchers to low income/middle class folks who qualify whereby they can live anywhere in market rate housing? The city already pays out about $3,000/mo. to house homeless families in temporary sub-standard shelters, which we have all over the UWS. So why can't the city pay for real permanent housing, which would cost the city less than maintaining all the crumbling, crime-infested NYCHA projects?

Gretchen - UWS

Roughly 55+% of my paycheck goes toward my rent. And - my salary has been frozen the past four years.

Please Mayor-Elect DeBlasio, if you are listening, work with the Rent Guidelines Board to either freeze rent stabilized apartments or offer the lowest increase possible. Too many of us are running out of money, but want to remain in our apartments.

Jenna - Upper East Side

The rent stabilization fees should be strengthened. Landlords are harassing RS tenants, especially older tenants. Bloomberg has handed NYC to his RE cronies at the expense of middle class RS tenants. Stuyvesant Town is a prime example.

East Village

Telling people if they can't afford to live in NY to leave is wrong. Our mayor elect needs to make affordable housing accessible I'm a single mother who works for the City and my rent eats up half my paycheck after that I'm left with $689 a month its not fair when I have to feed myself my son pay utilities. Give us a cost of living raise our city workers are long overdue for it. Middle income is disappearing and gentrification doesn't help this no more high rises let them stay in the city and keep out of our boroughs qns bklyn Bronx


De Blasio can show his commitment to affordable housing for middle class families by getting all parties to the table to work out a fair solution for the Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper village tenants. Tenants have a plan to move the complex out of bankruptcy, secure leases for rent stabilized tenants, and create a path from tenant ownership while also honoring commitments to bondholders. This housing complex is a critical toehold for the middle class in Manhattan -- city workers, city pensioners, and hard working New York families.

Anne from Manhattan

Bloomberg did little as far as access to affordable housing is concerned It is a fact that since the beginning of the Giulani administration housing in NYC has gotten less affordable as rents go up and salaries remain stagnant ...... A family of 4 better be making at least 100k to live in manhattan no less the other boro'

Sal from Si

When I was a student, I paid every cent I made for my shoebox studio apt with no light and one window. I washed my clothes in the bathtub, walked instead of taking the subway. Everyone I know had to live that way. It took seven years until I was able to afford something better.

Because we couldn't afford to live in Manhattan, we lived in Brooklyn and Astoria. That's what made those neighborhoods. Stop blaming other people. I used to be poor and never got a handout.

Upper West Side

I'm not wealthy,but I also wouldn't qualify for subsidized housing. I just want a nice life for my family. Safe streets, parks, great schools, easy access to a subway. When did this become an impossible dream for me? Perusing real estate listings is depressing. I hope that Park Slope dweller Diblasio can help my demographic. The Carroll Gardens building I rent an apartment in has doubled in its worth since it was bought 2 years ago. I will not be able to live here much longer because this neighborhood is so expensive. I'm strategizing how to stay here long enough to grandfather my child into a decent school. But I just don't feel settled. It's not a comfortable way to live.

Lisa, Brooklyn

Good evening John & fellow viewers,

As a 1st time responder to your show, you finally picked a topic that I feel strongly about. I and many of my family & friends fall into the middle-class chasm. We make too much for government assistance but too little to comfortably pay for market rent. I currently pay more than half of my monthly salary for rent & don't qualify for the so called 'affordable apts' listed by the city since according to their income charts, I would have to have a household of 4 or more to qualify for anything. So I'm struggling to keep my head above water & save enough to maybe have a downpayment for a condo or co-op in the next 5 years (god willing). I've honestly started looking to move out of New York entirely in an effort to live better. As a born & bred New Yorker (very rare) I never thought I wouldn't be able to afford to live in the neighborhood or state I grew up in.

- Antigua (from Harlem by way of Brooklyn)

At this time in NYC, this seems to be the dilemna... if you can afford to pay $3, 000 a month you can get a one bedroom in murray hill. If you can afford $700 a month, and make $30,000 max a year, you can qualify for s subsidized , one bedroom brand new apartment in murray hill.

So, if you are rich or poor, there is a place in nyc for you. But, if you are part of the majority-- the middle class- and can pay more than $700 a month but not $3, 000 a month, you are out of luck.


Dear John,

My current rent in a [Staten Island] Section 8 apartment is about 36.5% of my current income. It is difficult to find a one bedroom apartment for the same cost in the entire city when property values can differ in each individual borough. We should be angry because of the affordable housing that the city sold at Stuyvesant Town and Starrett City.

Clifton, Staten Island

Great Topic!

Like any city, New York can only function if it has employees who are working class. Working class people are forced to commute such long distances to ‘affordable housing’ that they have no time to live or be with family.

At this rate, and with the notion “if you can’t afford to live there, don’t”, the working class will have to move away - then who will do those jobs? Of course, we’ll work here - it’s our home.

Our quality of life is far below the results of our efforts and the salary we’re paid for our hard work. So many of my co-workers are rooming together to live here at all and I may have to do the same in the near future.

Spending every penny on rent and food with little, if any, left over, is not what living in New York is all about. As with many of the viewers, I don’t have the solution and I earn just a little too much for low income. Where does that leave me for living when I retire? Low income housing then? I hope some great minds develop some true solutions.


I believe the next mayor needs to:

1. Reinforce and expand rent regulation for middle class people (the rich and the poor are already taken care of);

2. Come up with a system of cash resettlement grants for people whose stabilized rents have already gotten too high for them and are being forced to leave New York. (As they leave, their apartments are being used for tourists, executives, etc., so bringing in much money).

Ellie - Turtle Bay

Crack down on the monopolizing unions such as the brick layers n cement contractors MAKE MORE NYCHA BUILDINGS. how is it that businesses open shop here make money and use the labor of hardworking NYers??? If anyone or any conglomerate can afford to come to NY than they can afford to leave n we r stuck with the bill. More housing laws!!! A higher minimum wage. Its all connected.


I think the price of housing can’t come down naturally due in large part to too many wealthy being able to have NY as a second home, etc. In most markets, the working class could move away and rent would drop. In New York, the wealthy renovate and move in.

I say - every apartment building should have percentages of apartments for each income group, in a manner similar to the 80/20 method. Set it up according to the percentage of each income bracket the city actually employs.

For example - if 20% of workers in NY earn 36,000, 20% of each building should be priced at the housing guidelines for that income level.

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