Western Queens community activists and Community Board 2 members said they are concerned that provisions for affordable housing at the city's portion of the massive Queens West development project are not affordable enough.
The city's Economic Development Corporation released plans last month for Hunters Point South, which serves as the third and fourth phases of the 74-acre Queens West project along Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City. The 37.5-acre project, which does not yet have a developer, will include 5,000 apartment units, of which 60 percent will be affordable housing and the remainder will be market rate.
But community activists complained last week to Community Board 2, the first stop in the project's seven-month approval process, that lower-income families would not be priced out of Long Island City by the project.
"People are really struggling," said Hannah Weinstock, community organizer for affordable housing advocacy group Queens Community House. "We have 17 percent of families in the area making less than $20,000 per year that are being forced out of the neighborhood they love as well as having to choose between rent and food."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's $7.5 billion New Housing Marketplace plan will create 165,000 units of affordable housing at locations across the five boroughs, including Queens West, by 2015. But Weinstock said the plan would only create new housing for households earning between $55,000 to $158,000 per year, neglecting lower-income families who are most in need.
"The higher range of [the plan] is pretty difficult to justify," she said. "We don't need any more luxury apartments in Long Island City. The city will not adjust to the fact that the entire community has rejected this plan. They haven't explored other options."
But Tracy Sayegh, the city Economic Development Corporation's project manager for Hunters Point South, said the income bracket designated for the project was for a family of four. She said a single-income household that earned $31,000 a year could qualify for an apartment at the project. She said all units would be below market rate.
"There is a need for middle-income housing," she said. "This is an income sector that is not being addressed."
The Hunters Point South plan must go before Borough President Helen Marshall, the City Council and the Department of City Planning.
The first two phases of the $2 billion Queens West project will be developed by the Queens West Development Corp., a city-state Port Authority partnership. That portion of the project will include 11 residential towers developed by Avalon Communities Inc. through the state's Empire Development Corporation as well as retail space, a community library, several schools and a waterfront park.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@times
©2008 Community News Group
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