It's no secret that New York is a goddamn expensive city to live in. Rents are constantly rising in neighborhoods across the city, and longtime residents often find themselves pushed out of their apartments as developers construct brand new, expensive buildings.
But one saving grace for many locals is the push for affordable housing in the city—the city's 2018 fiscal budget allocates funding for 10,000 more affordable apartments over the next year. This Friday marks the application deadline for one of New York's most coveted housing lotteries, which aims to bring a great deal of mixed-income housing to the sprawling new Essex Crossing development on the Lower East Side.
The lottery puts up apartments with rent as cheap as $396 per month (no, that is not a typo) at the new development at 175 Delancey Street. The catch? At least one of the applicants must be at least 55 years old, and the annual household income for those applying for these dirt cheap units must be less than $21,750.
In all, there are eight one-bedrooms units up for grabs for Section 8 applicants, and another six one-bedrooms for applicants who make roughly 30 percent of the area median income. Another 85 one-bedrooms are available at rents ranging from $558 to $1,254, depending on the household income of the applicants.
The Lower East Side has a long history of being a working class, squatter-filled neighborhood in Manhattan. But as Manhattan real estate prices have soared over the last 20 years, it has been threatened to lose its status as the last affordable area in Lower Manhattan. The new Essex Crossing development, which is poised to change the face of the neighborhood entirely, was forced to include ample affordable housing in order to get approved, and this lottery is one example of such.
It's not uncommon to hear complaints about the low-income requirements for many of the affordable housing lotteries, but those people are missing the point entirely. The push for affordable housing aims to preserve neighborhoods and protect some of the city's most vulnerable residents—not to free up rent money for hoards of mimosa-sucking brunchers.
This lottery won't help everyone directly, but it ought to help curb the rampant gentrification that's happening in one of the city's coolest neighborhoods, and that's worth celebrating.