Housing Policy

NYC's Crony-Capitalist Affordable Housing Industry: Jim Epstein in the New York Daily News

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I have an op-ed in today's New York Daily News about the Big Apple's affordable housing industry.

Here's an excerpt:

Mayor Bloomberg cuts the ribbon at the Via Verde affordable housing development.|||Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News
Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News

Affordable housing developers aren't simply do-gooders or risk-taking Silicon Valley entrepreneurs; they're expert crony capitalists. If they're not going to make a lot of money, they're not going to build. It's that simple.

Staffed with an army of expert budget nerds with deep knowledge of the city's red tape and its wide array of local and federal subsidy programs, the developers won't under any circumstances be squeezed.

Over the years, and perhaps especially these past 12 years, New York City's affordable housing industry has done a terrific job at earning itself boatloads of money while producing a relatively small number of cheap housing units.

Take Via Verde, an affordable housing development that opened last year in the South Bronx. The project, which was mostly financed by federal taxpayers, cost about $98 million and yielded just 220 below-market-rate apartments, translating to about $445,000 per unit. Next time, can we just give families $445,000 and let them buy buildings in the South Bronx?

Read the whole thing.