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Local legislators introduce bill to reform how AMI is calculated for ‘affordable housing’

Hunters Point South

Feb. 22, 2017 By Christian Murray

Two Queens legislators have introduced a bill that would change how ‘affordability’ is determined for affordable housing developments.

State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblyman Brian Barnwell have introduced legislation that would require developers to calculate who qualifies for affordable housing based on the average median income (AMI) of the zip code where the project is built.

Their bill, which has been introduced in both the state senate and assembly, would require developers to provide affordable housing at these revised income levels in order to qualify for the state’s handsome 421 A tax break.

Currently, the AMI is determined by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development formula that is based on the average income of residents in the five boroughs, along with Westchester, Putnam, and Rockland counties.

Therefore, the AMI figure used for affordable developments in Queens is the same as that for the affluent counties as Putnam and Rockland. For 2016, HUD placed the region’s AMI at $65,200

Barnwell, a freshman who represents Woodside and Maspeth, said that the AMI calculation does not have to be determined on HUD.

“We can say if you [the developers] want the tax break use the AMI of the zip code,” Barnwell said.

Barnwell anticipates the bill will receive a lot of push back from the real estate industry since it will lower the AMI in many cases.

Barnwell said that some developers might say that they won’t be able to build if the AMI is lowered, arguing that their rental income would be less.

However, Barnwell said this does not concern him. He said that if the developers don’t build then it is less likely that lifelong residents will be forced out due to gentrification.

Assemblyman Brian Barnwell (represents Woodside, Maspeth)

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