“Some See Little Room for Large, Poor Families in Mayor’s Housing Plan
By Winnie Hu. Oct 19, 2012.
When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced that the city was planning to develop new super-small apartments — called “microunits” — it represented another step toward his ambitious goal of building or preserving 165,000 homes for poor and moderate-income families across New York by 2014.
But some housing advocates, community leaders and elected officials say this latest proposal only highlights that one demographic group has been left out: large, poor families.
This group includes members as disparate as West Africans in the South Bronx, Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn and Bangladeshi in Queens, who are united by their inability to afford the high prices for large market-rate rentals and their inability to find publicly subsidized alternatives even as the overall housing stock has swelled.
So Mahamadou Tounkara and his wife and six children squeeze into one room of a market-rate, three-bedroom apartment in the South Bronx that they share with two other families because they cannot afford the monthly $1,112 rent alone. Twenty more large families at their mosque are in a similar bind even as several new city-financed buildings have risen nearby.
“It’s hard to live like this,” said Mr. Tounkara, who is a part-time auto mechanic. “You want more space, but if you don’t have money, how are you going to pay for it?”
The overwhelming majority of city-financed housing has consisted of smaller apartments — studios, one- and two-bedrooms — in part because city officials see the greatest need for them based on demographic patterns, and because many developers say the city provides subsidies for projects in a way that does not encourage building larger apartments. The shortage of housing for bigger families has been exacerbated because many of the existing apartments with three or more bedrooms in the city’s public housing stock currently have only one or two occupants.
The struggles of these families come as those who have long applauded the efforts of the mayor, who has been credited with overseeing the city’s largest expansion of affordable housing since the 1980s, look more closely at the results.”
Photo: Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times