Blackstone deal will not benefit the people who need it most

The asset management firm Blackstone group is in talks to buy more than 10,000 apartments in Manhattan’s East side that will include about 500 units set aside for low-income families. Sam Beck, director of Cornell University’s New York City Urban Semester program and an anthropologist who studies the effect of gentrification on low-income families and neighborhoods says providing affordable options for families in New York is a positive move, but adds that the deal is short-sighted and will ultimately not benefit the people who are most in need.


Beck says:


“This is a step in the right direction for Mayor de Blasio, but there are concerns that the investment in affordable housing will not amount to a long-term strategy. According to the details of the deal, affordable housing at Stuyvesant Town will be guaranteed for only 20 years. This does not provide enough continuity for people who want to live in the neighborhood and pay reasonable rent.

“Stuyvesant Town used to be a blue-collar, low-income neighborhood. Providing affordable housing as the area is re-developed is an important step to maintain cultural and social continuity.  But we need to be wary of what ‘affordable housing’ means in the context of New York City.

“Affordability is a term that really mystifies what is really happening with these residential options. Affordable units in New York are off limits to the most vulnerable people in the city because – with yearly incomes at $15, 20 or 25 thousand – they are not making enough money to qualify. Many of the people who most need affordable housing are undocumented immigrants, whose work is essential for the city to function but who are not considered by these policies. This is a cruel irony: they work for the city’s restaurants, in manufacturing, and in construction projects. They make very little money, but cannot ask the city to help on housing.

“Despite Mayor de Blasio’s plan to provide 200,000 units of affordable housing, New York City will probably remain too costly for middle class families. Middle class families making between $50 to 150 thousand cramp up in small, 600 square feet studio apartments and eventually leave the city for the suburbs when they have children.”


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