The Economic Engine of Affordable Housing
by Jolie Milstein
May 03, 2017 | 6187 views | 0 0 comments | 351 351 recommendations | email to a friend | print
From Arverne View to the Corona Senior Residences, outer-borough communities have always been on the front line of fighting for affordable housing.

That fight has only taken on greater importance as the borough quickly becomes less affordable for hard-working, low- and middle-income families who are struggling to make ends meet.

Luckily for city residents, New York just took an enormous step in addressing the housing crisis as the governor and state legislature approved $2.5 billion for affordable and supportive housing.

These funds could not have come at a more important time, as more than half of statewide renters are struggling to afford their homes and over 88,000 New Yorkers are still battling homelessness.

Affordable housing plays a crucial role in the powerful economic engine that strengthens communities and creates good-paying jobs 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. This can be a major boost to the local economy.

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.

Resident of Queens are seeing the power of development firsthand in Edgemere, where the Beach Green Dunes development will soon provide 100-units of affordable housing as part of a city plan to revitalize Far Rockaway neighborhoods.

The new funds provided to New York by the governor and state legislature will have a huge impact, but there’s still much more work to be done to end the state’s housing crisis.

While our priority is ensuring safe, quality housing for low- and middle-income families, we must continue spreading the word in our city about how well-planned projects provide more of the local spending and good-paying jobs that sustain our neighborhoods and create pathways to the middle class.

Jolie Milstein is president and CEO of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing.
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