Saturday, January 25, 2014

Rising Mantinance Costs At the Amalgamated and Park Reservoir Cooperatives

  Most of the recent mayoral candidates said they supported 'affordable housing'. Many people say NYC is losing its 'affordable housing'. But there is little explanation in the news or from the politicians what it is and why NYC and future generations need it.
        At the Amalgamated and Park Reservoir cooperatives near Van Cortlandt Park the current monthly charges are similar and comparatively reasonable, except that these charges have been rising faster than the rate of inflation. For some residents these charges are beginning to be difficult to afford. Still, Amalgamated and Park Reservoir fall into the category of 'affordable housing'. What does that mean?
        There are three categories of housing: 'subsidized', 'affordable' and 'market rate'. In this scheme, 'affordable housing' is a technical term. The three categories are not a description of the level of the monthly charges. They are a description of the income of the people for whom each category is meant to serve. Subsidized housing is for those people with no or such low income that they could not afford the rent in any building fit for human living. The Federal government's HUD housing projects are an example of 'subsidized housing'.
        'Affordable housing' is for people with low or moderate income who could not, especially in NYC, afford what commercial landlords charge so as to make a profit. If NYC were to lose its affordable housing, people with low or moderate income would be forced to leave the city.
        The third category, 'market rate housing' is for people with enough income to afford what landlords will charge them or who can afford to buy their own apartment or home. Such people are often called middle class or upper middle class or rich.
        What makes 'affordable housing' affordable is that there is government help usually with the financing of the original housing and with property tax relief called abatements. This government help makes possible monthly charges that low and moderate income people, such as low wage workers, disabled people with some compensation, families with children, and retirees on fixed pensions, can afford. Housing is only in the 'affordable' category if such people can pay the necessary cost to gain an apartment and the monthly charges. Government assistance to 'affordable housing' is necessary or the housing would become market rate housing and those people would lose the ability to stay in it. The government assistance is a service to the society, making it possible for all classes of people to live in NYC.
        There are four main threats to affordable housing. (1) The government might withdraw its assistance. (2) The housing might be privatized or commercialized. (3) The initial move-in cost may exceed that which low and moderate income people can accumulate. Or (4) the monthly charges might rise above what such people can handle.
        Amalgamated and Park Reservoir, for example, will only stay in the 'affordable' category if constant attention is paid to any government movement to end the tax abatements, if every effort is made to oppose privatization and if every proposed carrying charge increase is demonstrated to be absolutely necessary. Otherwise, many current cooperators and all future generations of low and moderate income people will not be able to live there. Then the wonderful cooperative experiment they represent will have failed.

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