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City to Fast-Track Creation of 2,400 Affordable Housing Units in E. Harlem

 Only 1 percent, or 249 affordable housing units, have been created in East Harlem under the mayor's plan. 
Only 1 percent, or 249 affordable housing units, have been created in East Harlem under the mayor's plan. 
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DNAinfo/Gustavo Solis

EAST HARLEM — The city plans to expedite the creation of 2,400 units of affordable housing in the neighborhood over the next several years, after the de Blasio administration brought just 249 units to East Harlem out of more than 20,000 citywide, according to a report released Monday by the city’s Department of Housing and Preservation Development. 

The mayor's plan has spurred the construction or financing of 20,854 affordable units citywide since 2014 — with the goal of building 200,000 in a decade — representing the “largest number of affordable units created over any three-year period in the city’s history,” the report states.

However, only 1 percent of those units came to East Harlem, despite more than half of residents identifying as “rent burdened,” meaning more than a third of their income goes to rent, according to the report.

Moving forward, the city plans to fast-track 2,400 “affordable housing” units on public land in the neighborhood over “the next several years,” the report said. For comparison, between 2003–2013 during the Bloomberg administration, 2,590 units were constructed or financed in East Harlem, the report said.

The report — called the East Harlem Housing Plan — is a blueprint of how HPD plans to address the neighborhood’s dwindling housing stock, protect tenants from landlord harassment and spur economic development as it plans to move forward with a rezoning of the neighborhood.

“The median household income in East Harlem is $30,973, but in order to afford current market rents, one would need to earn about $80,000 for a one-person household or $100,000 for a three-person household,” the report said.

The neighborhood also has the largest concentration of rent-regulated housing anywhere in the city at 75 percent, including New York City Housing Authority buildings, according to the report.

However, demand has placed pressure on the housing supply, warned HPD, which laid out ambitious goals to address the issue.

Other proposals include hosting tenants’ rights workshops and ramping up the department's Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force to help tenants in rent-stabilized housing. The agency is also considering implementing a Community Land Trust, a nonprofit that would manage and oversee affordable housing on public land.

The report stated that the agency is considering requiring that developments along “Lexington, Park, Second, and Third Avenues, as well as East 116th Street” have 20 to 30 percent of units be “permanently affordable.”

The plan also calls for a redesign of its housing lottery website and using what it calls “Housing Ambassadors” to streamline the process to apply for housing.

“The East Harlem Housing Plan charts a path forward for the future of housing and economic opportunity in East Harlem, guided by extensive community engagement,” said HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer in a statement.

“This initial blueprint seeks to put community priorities at the forefront as we work to preserve, develop, and increase access to affordable housing while promoting economic opportunity for residents.”