Star power seeks to polish affordable housing's image
Tiki Barber appears in an ad for the state's affordable-housing campaign.
Affordable housing in New York has never looked so glamorous.
Starting Monday, former New York Giant Tiki Barber, actor and filmmaker Edward Norton and former Met Mo Vaughn, will each appear in television and radio commercials asking New Yorkers to take a fresh look at affordable housing and welcome the developments into their own backyards.
I think it will go a long way in opening peoples understanding of what affordable housing is, said Barber.
Community opposition to affordable housing, or NIMBYism (Not in My Backyard) often results in long delays, additional costs or thwarted plans, according to state officials.
You would not be able to tell in the vast number of cases between an affordable housing development, a market-rate development or even a luxury development, said Deborah VanAmerongen, commissioner of the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal Commissioner.
Her office, which builds and rehabilitates affordable housing developments across the state, is working on the campaign with Gov. David Paterson.
All three celebrities are separately involved in affordable-housing development. Barber is investing in affordable housing with his company Tiki Ventures; Norton works with the Enterprise Community Partners founded by his grandfather; and Mo Vaughn started a company called Omni NY.
The five TV and two radio spots, including ads in Spanish, are an attempt to change peoples minds. They will run for four weeks on broadcast television stations statewide as well as on radio stations mostly outside of the city for now.
Affordable housing is critical for the stability of our communities, Paterson said. It makes our communities and schools stronger, businesses healthier and neighborhoods more diverse by providing our hard working families and senior citizens with viable housing options.
In fact, Barber recently discovered by chance that he himself was raised in an affordable-housing development in Virginia something he said he never knew because it was well maintained and neither made him feel deprived nor set him apart from the rest of the neighborhood.
Its that kind of housing experience, he said, that hed like to give other people.
-- Kate Pastor