Julie Strickland | The Real Deal

Homes in East New York
Homes in East New York

A square mile section of Cypress Hills, a northeastern subsection of Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood, is set to house the first 15 sites of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $41 billion affordable housing plan. But residents of the area, one of the poorest in the city, likely won’t be able to swing the cost of these “affordable” units.

The median income in the district is around $32,000 per year, and the median rent of the planned affordable units citywide is to be between $1,050 and $1,670, Shai Lauros, director of community development for the Cypress Hills Local Development corporation, told Gothamist. Affordable rents for this community, she said, “typically range from $375-$625, so there is a discrepancy here. This could contribute to displacement.”

As a mayoral candidate, de Blasio made Transit Oriented Development a basis for his community revitalization strategy, pointing to the planned rezoning and development of additional housing to locations with strong transit connections, and called for higher-density development at and around transit hubs. But a report on the Sustainable Communities initiative, published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development a few weeks after de Blasio’s housing plan was announced, found that the so-called sustainable communities have “the potential to spur gentrification and displace residents in low- and moderate-income areas.”

“Recent research confirms that walkable, transit-oriented communities nationwide are becoming increasingly less affordable and have varying benefits depending on the income level of the residents,” the HUD report added.

Michael McKee, treasurer of Tenants Political Action Committee, told Gothamist that a better affordable housing approach would be to build more public housing or revive the Mitchell-Lama model, though he called both scenarios highly unlikely.