The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Armory Meets "The Machine" Part I

For all its pro-biz posture, Crains NY has done a fairly decent job framing the ongoing debate over the future of the Bedford-Union Armory project. In its January editorial, it defined the struggle as one of conventional development strategy for community amenities and affordable housing VS. calls for truly affordable housing - 100% affordable housing. Let the record state that the Q has always felt that 100% truly affordable is the appropriate response to a low-income housing shortage in this historic and desirable neighborhood. The Armory is city-owned land now for chrisakes! If you can't build all-affordable on City land, you're not gonna build it anywhere.

Sure it'll be costly. The market-rate part of the equation (via RFP winners BFC partners) was supposed to pay for the creation of rec center and affordable units. But that's happening all over town, wherever City Planning can convince locals to allow upzoning (which is not as often as they'd like, given unsurprising NIMBYism).

What are we really talking about when we say 100% affordable? There is no reason to mince words or hide behind euphemism. We are talking about PUBLIC HOUSING. That's right. Housing where the rent is based on the family's income. And what do people typically call such reasonably priced housing? They call it "the Projects." No fair really, but there it is. Truly affordable housing in NYC is called The Projects. And there is nothing, let me repeat NOTHING wrong with that.

Imagine if you will an opportunity created specifically for current residents of Crown Heights to move into newly created apartments along beautiful Eastern Parkway. If we are truly committed to keeping Crown Heights diverse, we would jump at the chance. It's expensive yes, but in the form of subsidies, not out-and-out freebie. You still get rent at the Projects. Some people forget that people actually pay out of pocket for these places, though for some it comes primarily in the form of Section 8 vouchers. Which, it must be added, they are ENTITLED TO by law. Folks like to call S8 recipients all kinds of names - "ghetto," "moochers," "welfare moms." Hey if that's your attitude then maybe NYC is not the place for you, read me? We try, albeit imperfectly, to take care of our own.

So elected officials with a conscience took a stand. This is our chance to build (and again, I'm using the correct term here) "Public Housing."

And now comes word that a local nonprofit - The Local Crown Heights Development Corporation - will provide the developer with some cover, or as LCHDC would prefer you call it, some legitimacy, in the neighborhood. And who exactly is LCHDC? If you're a follower of Central Brooklyn machine politics, the answer is obvious. And it all leads back to Clarence Norman, Jr., the disgraced once former king-maker who has roared back to life in a remarkable behind-the-scenes series of power moves. This time, the move involves money.

And as Deep Throat once said (no the other Deep Throat), follow the money.

more to follow.


MikeF said...

NYC and NYS don't allocate the resources necessary to maintain the housing projects that we already have, and the feds continue to cut their contributions.

Why would we build more?

Tim said...

If we reallocate resources for homeless we could work wonders. We have plenty of money. This is a political issue. You know that we'll as anyone! We can't continue to ignore the homeless problem. So many have jobs but no apartment!

MikeF said...

Ignore it? We can't keep up with it. ...and have no realistic ability to increase taxes.

Anonymous said...

The Armory? Please. Now that Trump is president, it's time for the city to demand the return of Floyd Bennett Field. It's time to turn it into Floyd Bennett City. There's room for housing for hundreds of thousands of people on all that unused property.

Clarkson, you seem willing to overlook the factor that makes "project housing" the nightmare that it became. When the landlord can't reject a potential tenant for any of the usual reasons, trouble will follow. Inevitably.

Then what? Do you evict granny when her grandson is stashing drugs and guns at her place? Do you fine tenants in the projects for their complete failure to follow recycling ordinances? City housing is plagued with more violations than any other. The city itself is the city's worst landlord.

As for the increasing numbers of homeless in NY City, given what I've seen around Brooklyn and Manhattan, people are arriving from out of town and crashing here. Lotta white guys have been into urban camping between Penn Station and 5th Ave on the cross streets. A mixed crowd sleeps inside Penn Station in the corridors to the subways. The cops leave them alone as long as they stay near the subway lines and away from the plazas for the railroads.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

The City can kick out problem tenants. And it can reject applications too. As I said this is a matter of resources, attention, enforcement. You think honest folks in City housing like living next to drug dealers? No more than they do in the big buildings on my block, where residents of been fairly successful over the years getting rid of the worst offenders.

So now the appearance of white guys at Penn Station allows you to make blanket statements about the homeless population? Do some research, man. It's mostly families. Facts straight from the City:

In recent years, homelessness in New York City has reached the highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In December 2016, there were 62,674 homeless people, including 15,856 homeless families with 24,076 homeless children, sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system. Families comprise just over three-quarters of the homeless shelter population.

Over the course of City fiscal year 2016, more than 127,652 different homeless men, women, and children slept in the New York City municipal shelter system. This includes over 45,000 different homeless New York City children.

Anonymous said...

CROWN HEIGHTS — At a raucous public meeting Saturday, a plan to put a 106-bed men’s shelter on Bergen Street — one of 90 homeless shelters planned by the mayor citywide — was met with near-unanimous anger and contempt from locals, who told city officials to “shut it down.”

Seems there's some opposition to housing the homeless in the PLG area. It's no fun to have them around when they start talking to your young kids. Especially when the semi-crazy, drug-addled characters are hovering around the little ones.

Build the shelter at Floyd Bennett Field. I know. Can't be done -- yet. But de Blatz, or maybe Cuomo and Trump are in a position to make a deal.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Re:"Build the shelter at Floyd Bennett Field."

Hey, it's no_slappz again!

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Oh yes. It's Slappy alright. Been back awhile. What's it with Floyd Bennet Field? It's a swamp, barely at sea level. You think Slappy's got financial ties out there?

MikeF said...

Returning to NYC public housing:

Let me know when NYC and NYS can make up the difference, plus feel it is a good idea to build more.

Anonymous said...

Re:"You think Slappy's got financial ties out there?"

I guess we all do, considering it's part of federal parkland. ;)

Anonymous said...

Clarkson informs: In December 2016, there were 62,674 homeless people, including 15,856 homeless families with 24,076 homeless children, sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system. Families comprise just over three-quarters of the homeless shelter population.

A big contributor to homelessness is the octopus of Rent Stabilization. It's one thing for a tenant to enjoy the protections of rent stabilization. It's something else when the privilege can be handed down to subsequent generations. At that point, rent stabilization becomes de facto ownership without imposing any of the responsibilities of ownership.

Once the price disparity between regulated and unregulated apartments widens to the point that owners are earning less than the free market offers, the effort to evict stabilized tenants accelerates. Evicted parties are added to the rolls of those seeking "affordable" housing, guaranteeing that demand for "affordable" units will far exceed supply.

Until the early 1990s, outside of Brooklyn Heights and maybe Park Slope, the difference between regulated and unregulated rents was quite low.

Where do evicted tenants go? Yeah, they may end up in shelters. Or, among people I know, the mothers and children exit abusive households and enter the shelter system. More competition for limited space.

When rent laws and zoning rules restrict the construction of more housing, the obvious result is sharply higher rents for existing unregulated units. And more efforts by landlords to evict stabilized tenants. So, there exists a vicious circle of counterproductive forces.

The only way to get beyond this cycle is to build as many free-market units as possible. After all, it's taxpayers who fund everything. And then build "affordable" housing at Floyd Bennett Field.