There are several statements that are misleading or incorrect in a recent FaceBook post about affordable housing.
The first incorrect statement is that developers requested a change in the Affordable Housing Law because they thought the law too onerous. The actual motivation to explore this issue originated from the Village Board and the Land Use Technical Committee in order to increase the number of affordable housing units being built. The issue was also raised by professional staff of the Village.
Second, an individual who is qualified for affordable housing is “persons with incomes less than or equal to 80% of the current AMI for Rockland County, New York as determined by the HUD." It should also be noted this also pertains to affordable/workforce housing. (VON Code 120)
In order to communicate accurate information regarding the number of affordable housing units being built as a result of the change in the law, I contacted our Village Planner, Bob Galvin. Bob provided me with this information:
Glendale Project on Main Street - 2 units built and rented up last three years
Montclare Project (Main/Midland) - 4 units - to be built (not started yet)
Pavion - 13 units under construction (have had over 500 applications for the total units - number of applications just for the affordable units not yet determined)
Gateway – (Main and Highland) - 3 units to be built (developer has indicated that they would like to use the $40K payment into Housing fund for $120,000)
TZ Vista ---would include 13 units (if payment to fund utilized, at $40K per unit payment into Housing Fund - $520,000)
So, right now, the change in the law will result in 19 affordable units (at 80% AMI per VON code) being built or coming on line, and potential payments of up to $640,000 to the housing fund. Before the law was changed, there were no affordable units being built or planned.
In addition, while not subject to the new law, the Nyack Point project (former Sew What's New) Rockland Housing Action Coalition had 300 applications for the 33 units that are affordable and will begin renting to veterans, special needs, etc. below the 80% AMI.
The third is the issue of the buy out fund. This concept was devised to make developers who elected NOT to build the number affordable units required under our Code to pay into a fund for not doing so. The actual code states that the buy-out per unit will be a minimum of $40,000 per unit. The purpose of the fund as laid out in the code states that the funds shall be used to “either advance affordable housing within the Village of Nyack; to provide grants for credits against the purchase price of residential real estate within the Village of Nyack by qualified persons (persons with incomes less than or equal to 80% of the current AMI for Rockland County, New York as determined by the HUD); or to provide grants for owner-occupied housing rehabilitation projects within the Village of Nyack”. As Mr. Galvin communicated to me, under the current law the TZ Vista project as proposed would result in 13 affordable housing units or buyouts. At the minimum of $40,000 per unit this could result in almost a half million dollars being placed in the fund.
The rationale for this fund was to create a mechanism for people who are on fixed income or low income to remain in their homes and to keep them repaired.
So while we all want more affordable housing, we do have different views on the methods of getting there and the implementation of those methods. It is however important to read the code and understand what it says. The decision to change the law has resulted in more affordable (not low income) housing units being built and the development of a fund to help current residents stay in their homes.
There is still a lot of work to be done on the issue of affordability for residents of Nyack. I want to focus on how we maintain and expand our options and move forward to develop policies and initiatives that are beneficial to our community/village as a whole.