All affordable Crown Heights housing development moves forward

1890718_Weeksville Rendering
The building will go up around the corner from the Weeksville Heritage Center and will contain 100 percent affordable units.
Edelman Sultan Knox Wood/Architects LLP

A 100-percent affordable housing development in Crown Heights is inching closer to reality after local land use gurus blessed a scheme to transfer public land to a non-profit housing provider. 

Members of Community Board 8’s Land Use Committee voted unanimously on Thursday to endorse the plan, which would transfer a large city-owned lot on Prospect Place near Buffalo Avenue to the Settlement Housing Fund, a non-profit provider of affordable housing. 

“This is a very welcome project,” said Ethel Tyus, the chairwoman of Community Board 8.  

The eight-story development, around the corner from the Weeksville Heritage Center will contain 45 units, including 22 studios, eight one-bedrooms, and 15 two-bedroom apartments. Rents will be as low as $377 a month for some studios, with prices capping out at $1,623 a month for a two bedroom. 

26 of the 45 units will be reserved for seniors, while eight will be set aside for the formerly homeless. The building will include a landscaped garden in the back of the lot, as well as a community room, bike storage, and a shared terrace.

The remaining units will be offered to residents making between 30 and 60-percent of New York City’s area median income, a figure calculated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is currently pegged at $96,100 for a family of three.

However, the president for Settlement Housing Fund, Alexa Sewell, told board members that the nonprofit actively pursues state and city subsidies on behalf of would-be tenants in an effort to qualify them for units targeted at higher income brackets. 

“We very actively help our residents get subsidies, and those subsidies count towards a persons income,” said Sewell. “We very often may rent a 50 percent AMI unit to a person or a household whose actual income is quite a bit less than that, but with the housing subsidies, they can afford that higher rent.”

The developer’s deal with the city requires Settlement Housing Fund to provide affordable housing there for at least 40 years. If a future landlord were to want to make the housing market rate, they would have to go through an onerous process and pay off several loans. Settlement Housing reps pledged that the units would remain affordable rentals, and would never be turned to condos or market-rate units. 

The Crown Heights Affordable Housing development is as of right so it does not require a rezoning once the land swap is certified. Developers estimate the project will take 18-24 months once it is approved.