By Jolie Milstein
For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
From Tilden Gardens to City Point, Brooklynites have always been on the front line of fighting for affordable housing. That fight has taken on greater importance as the borough gets less and less affordable for low- and middle-income families who are struggling to make ends meet.
Fortunately, Brooklyn — and all of New York — just took a huge step forward in addressing the housing crisis as the governor and state Legislature approved $2.5 billion for affordable and supportive housing. With more than half of statewide renters struggling to afford their homes and about 88,000 New Yorkers still homeless, the housing funds could not have come at a more critical time.
The positive impact of these new funds will go well beyond new units of affordable housing — they will also catalyze spending and the creation of good-paying jobs that strengthen communities throughout our city. In fact, New York’s affordable housing industry generated more than $54 billion in total economic impact across the state between 2011 and 2015, as we found in a recently released report. The vast majority of that spending took place within New York City, where more than 83 percent of the state’s subsidized housing — or around 106,000 affordable units — was built and preserved during that five-year period.
Our analysis also found that affordable housing production supports more than 65,000 construction-related jobs annually across the state, including hardhat jobs on the worksite and others involved in providing development materials. The same buildings also provided more than 9,000 permanent jobs each year, such as those for building service workers and employees of ground floor retail tenants in mixed-use projects.
Brooklyn families are seeing the power of development firsthand in East New York, where Livonia Commons will provide 278 affordable homes alongside with retail and community facilities that will assist in creating an active and vibrant neighborhood. Mixed-income housing development has also driven the growth in Brooklyn Heights thanks to The Pierrepont, which is now providing more affordability while bringing new life to the area next to the East River.
While these new funds will have an enormous impact, there is still much more work to be done to address New York’s housing crisis. As we continue to advocate in favor of safe, quality affordable housing for low- and middle-income families, we will continue to spread the word that well-planned projects provide the local spending and good-paying jobs that sustain neighborhoods and create pathways to the middle class — for Brooklynites and all New Yorkers.
Jolie Milstein is president and CEO of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH).