Here’s Why Some Affordable Housing in Bushwick Can Cost More Than in Manhattan

Evan Haddad


Last week, news about some pricy one-bedroom units in East Williamsburg available through the NYC Housing Lottery made us look further into the issue of affordable housing in the Bushwick area and beyond — especially after we found out that other affordable housing options for middle-income earners are hitting the market in the neighborhood.

The confusing thing for many readers was the word “affordable.” How can apartments that cost $2,253 per month, such as those in East Williamsburg, be considered affordable housing? 

Because affordability is relative.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), which oversees affordable housing, determines eligibility for its program based on New York City’s Area Median Income (AMI). Housing is considered affordable if it costs about one-third or less of what the people living there make.

That means if you earn around $25,000 per year (very low income), you qualify for affordable housing options that cost around $650 per month. It also means that if you earn $90,000 a year (middle-income) an apartment that costs $2,500 per month still technically qualifies as affordable in the program. While the majority of affordable housing units in New York City are for people with extremely-low to low incomes, there are options for middle-income earners.

You may also wonder why that newly-constructed one-bedroom in East Williamsburg costs $2,253 per month through affordable housing, while a recent listing of a one-bedroom in Chelsea costs just $659.

That’s because where affordable housing is located and how much other apartments cost to rent in those neighborhoods don’t factor in, a spokesman for HPD told Bushwick Daily.

Apart from building new residences, much of what HPD does is preservation, which includes helping people lock in rent regulation for their current housing and solving tenant harassment issues.

Preservation efforts represent much of HPD’s work in Bushwick.

Courtesy of HPD

Some of the misconceptions about the affordable housing price tags come from a general misunderstanding about the program itself. Many people think of public housing when they think affordable — which is not the same thing. 

While news of pricy affordable housing in Bushwick may irritate some regardless of any explanation, in 2017 HPD created the most affordable housing ever, a department spokesman told us. 

Still, for Brooklyn residents earning less than moderate income ($68,721), there isn’t exactly a diverse range of newly-constructed housing options available to rent now.

The images above show the affordable housing options in Brooklyn that are currently accepting applications for new residents. The building at 23 India St. in Greenpoint has 140 newly-constructed units available for applicants making very low income ($25,771-$42,950). The buildings at 126 Boerum and 22 Melrose, which are in Bushwick, have eight units available to middle-income applicants.

Cover image courtesy of Jason McCann on Unsplash

Latest articles

Related articles