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City beat goal for affordable housing in 2014, mayor says

Bill de Blasio at the Navy Houses in

Bill de Blasio at the Navy Houses in Brooklyn announces that New York City financed the creation and preservation of more than 17,300 affordable housing units on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday announced the city surpassed his goal for affordable housing units funded in 2014, but admitted there's still a ways to go when it comes to providing housing for the lowest income brackets.

There were more than 17,300 units funded in 2014 -- 1,300 more than projected -- de Blasio said, speaking at a news conference inside an affordable housing building in Fort Greene.This is a step toward his goal of 200,000 units in 10 years. But of the units funded last year, less than 5% of them were designated for extremely low incomes, those with an annual household income of less than $25,150.

"This is a jigsaw puzzle," de Blasio said. "It's this constant, literally, putting the pieces together, putting the finances together, putting the neighborhood support together, working the elected officials. And whatever is there at any given moment, you make the play with what you got."

"Sometimes ... that's all low-income seniors, every single unit," de Blasio added. "Other times it will be a mix of incomes, and some on the higher scale, some on the lower scale."

Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been said the ultimate goal is to reach 12% for very low and extremely low incomes. She said several programs have been rolled out to try to meet that goal.

"We're making progress," Been said. "It's going to take a while because, as you know, those are the hardest and they require the most resources."

A family in the "very low" income bracket has a household income of up to about $42,000.

Of the units financed last year, most were designated for "low" household incomes, or between about $42,000 and about $67,000. About 1,500 units were funded for "middle" income, or a household income of up to about $138,000.

"It's going to be mix and match, mix and match all the way through," de Blasio said. "But we're going to hit those overall targets."

Every borough had affordable housing units funded last year, but the most were in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan. About 36% of the units were new developments and the rest were preserved buildings.

Public Advocate Letitia James said affordable housing is needed more than ever, and the city's efforts would "begin to turn the tide."

"As we go forward it's really critically important that we keep our eye on families that really just want to be part of that American dream and to own," James said. "The crisis of affordable housing is real. It's ground zero."


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