$5M OK’d “Just In Time” For Housing

RMS Companies; Bass PhotoAs New Haven debates how to preserve affordable housing, the state came through with money to ensure that a new apartment complex in the Hill will include homes for people earning less than the area median income.

The money comes in the form of a $5 million grant from the Connecticut Department of Housing’s Just in Time fund, designed to enable developers to include lower-income housing in new market-rate complexes.

The state Bond Commission voted to approve the money Wednesday for the first phase of developer Randy Salvatore’s plan eventually to transform 11.4 largely vacant acres of land in the Hill into 140 apartments, 7,000 square feet of stores, 120,000 square feet of research space and 50,000 square feet of offices between Congress Avenue and Church Street South. The city has tried since the mid-1980s to get someone to rebuild that area, which was devastated by mid-20th century urban renewal.

The city had already approved the Salvatore plan. The Harp administration then went to the state seeking the $5 million to bridge a financing gap and enable Salvatore to make 30 percent of the first phase’s apartments “affordable.”

The approval of the money means that 33 of the 110 apartments that are planned for phase one will have lower rents, Salvatore said in an interview.

“I would expect we can start excavating in two weeks” and complete the first phase by “the end of 2018,” said Salvaote, who built the Novella apartments at Chapel and Howe streets.

The first phase involves building the 110 apartments atop first-floor neighborhood-oriented retail at 22 Gold St., where the Prince School Annex used to stand.

Connecticut Department of HousingUnder guidelines for the Just In Time program, the 33 subsidized units will be rented to households earning no more than 80 percent of area median income, or $70,480 out of an $88,100 benchmark for a family of four. The above chart details the full range of income limits. (Thanks to Independent readers who in comments to past articles on this project have asked for those details.)

Salvatore’s project fits into a broader Hill-to-Downtown Plan the city has drawn up for the area between the train station and Yale’s medical district. At the urging of the neighborhood, the city committed to making 30 percent of new housing complexes subsidized or otherwise lower-rent as opposed to market-rate. Officials are pressing that same goal for the planned rebuilding of the Church Street South housing complex; it is trying for a second time to obtain a federal CHOICE grant for that plan.

“We’re real excited” about the $5 million grant, said Serena Neal-Sanjurjo, who as executive director of city government’s Livable City Initiative (LCI) took the lead on seeking the state money. She called it “the beginning of the implementation of the Hill-to-Downtown Plan. ... We have worked hard in the last year and a half; we are seeing that come to fruition now. “

3 Paths

Paul Bass Photo

The quest for the $5 million fit into a larger Harp administration strategy for responding to public demands to enable working-class people to continue renting in a city where builders like Salvatore’s RMS Companies are on a tear constructing market-rate apartments. Mayor Toni Harp has called for a public hearing on how to preserve single-room occupancy facilities and affordable housing in general; alders are considering a proposal to declare a six-month moratorium on converting SROs into market-rate housing. (A planned public hearing on the proposal by an alder committee, planned for Thursday night, has been postponed.)

Cities around the country are wrestling with the same challenge. They tend to choose among three main strategies, as observed by New Haven Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson:

• Constructing government-built public-housing complexes.
• Promoting “micro” apartments that squeeze people into, say 300 square feet of living space, in buildings that have larger shared spaces for eating, exercise and hanging out.
• Finding state or federal subsidies for private developers to include affordable housing in otherwise market-rate developments and having higher rates “cross-subsidize” lower rents in the same complex.

New Haven has focused on the third option in recent decades. The Ninth Square development of the 1990s and then the construction of the 360 State St. tower are examples. Nemerson called them models for how best to include subsidized housing into market-rate housing: weaving both categories of apartments together — make the demarcations “invisible” — so you can’t tell which is which. (The Ninth Square project is now at a crossroads as the original developer, facing big debts, seeks a buyer; read more about that in this article.)

Mayor Harp has expressed reservations about micro-apartments, arguing that New Haven isn’t dense enough to need to warehouse people in tiny spaces.

In pursuing the mixed-income model, New Haven is now competing for subsidies with suburbs pushed by the state to build new affordable housing, Nemerson noted. He credited LCI’s “great work” in succeeding in obtaining competitive money for the Salvatore Hill project.

Construction Unsettles High Street

Markeshia Ricks PhotoConstruction at a separate Salvatore/RMS project in town — on a new “boutique” hotel on a former car-rental lot— caused the city to close part of High Street Thursday.

City Engineer Giovanni Zinn sent out the following email at 9:49 a.m. explaining what happened:

“We have determined that the northbound lane of High St between George and Crown must be closed to traffic immediately due to unacceptable settling and shifting of the roadway. This settling appears to be related to the deep excavation for the development at the corner of George and High by RMS.

“[The Department of Public Works (DPW)], Engineering, and Building met on-site this morning to examine the situation immediately after receiving a report from LCI of a deepening crack in the road. DPW will immediately begin installing jersey barriers to protect the area from traffic. [Transit, Traffic and Parking] has contacted affected properties on the block and will assist with signage.  Building is requesting a meeting at the site with the developer and their structural engineer ASAP with the relevant City parties. Engineering has contacted [United Illuminating], as they have a distribution duct bank in the affected area.”

Tags: ,

Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry

Comments

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on November 30, 2017  3:51pm

The median income numbers NHI is sharing are for Greater New Haven, and not New Haven proper. They include New Haven’s much wealthier suburbs, and are more than double the actual numbers for New Haven.

For a typical New Haven family of four, median income is about $38,000/year,—not the $88,000/yr number Salvatore, the City and the NHI are sharing.

In practice this means SCARCE HOUSING SUBSIDIES WILL BE GOING TO PEOPLE WITH ABOVE AVERAGE INCOMES!

The NHI also leaves out any details about the mix of the 33 “affordable” units. How many studios? How many 1BR’s? How many 2BR+ units? Will they all be single occupancy units, like at 360 State Street? How many families will be helped? As opposed to single people making north of $40,000/year?

My concern is that many of these subsidies will end up going to Yale Post-Doctoral researchers working in the labs adjacent to this development. These “post-docs” are individuals with PhD’s coming to Yale, (predominantly foreigners), to do research at the Medical Center. That subsidies could be going to new, international arrivals, and not needy New Haven families is my primary concern.

Fwiw, the NHI should take a look at who actually receives the affordable housing subsidies attached to 360State Street. My understanding is that the many of the subsidies are going to single hospital employees, making $45,000-$68,000/year. (Many of them also new to New Haven!)

Something is seriously amiss here.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 30, 2017  4:54pm

Again Snake-Oil and Three Card Monte Being sold.Affordable Housing for who.Like I said follow the ACE,

Three Card Monte | How to Scam Your Enemies

https://youtu.be/VVC7bU2bL2U

posted by: Realmom21 on November 30, 2017  6:04pm

i wonder” sarcasm” is there any language giving preference to existing New Haven residents before they start to bring everyone in from the burbs????????There are so many struggling and living in squalor are we going to raise them up or leave them in their misery and welcome the gentrification in with open arms

posted by: loquacious truth on November 30, 2017  7:05pm

You should offer some affordable 1 bedroom housing for young New Haven teachers, many of them strapped with student loans, car payments, and ridiculously low salaries can’t even afford to live in the city they teach in. I know tons of teachers in their late twenties and early thirties who can’t afford to live on their own in New Haven and that’s really sad!!! $1800 for a 1 bedroom doesn’t really work when your only taking home $2400 a month on a teachers salary and that’s after 5 years with a masters!

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on November 30, 2017  7:45pm

AT,  I believe your numbers are right. But housing markets are regional - people routinely move between cities and suburbs. As a result, housing subsidy programs use regional AMI to calculate affordability.

I suspect you are right that few of the people who will rent in this development will be current New Haven residents. But short of a dramatic increase in federal funding for affordable housing, this is unlikely to change.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 30, 2017  9:19pm

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on November 30, 2017 7:45pm

AT,  I believe your numbers are right. But housing markets are regional - people routinely move between cities and suburbs. As a result, housing subsidy programs use regional AMI to calculate affordability.

I suspect you are right that few of the people who will rent in this development will be current New Haven residents. But short of a dramatic increase in federal funding for affordable housing, this is unlikely to change.

So the poor will be push out.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on November 30, 2017  10:36pm

The market rate apartment buildings going up in New Haven are not aimed at providing housing for families. The studios, one, and two-bedroom apartments are aimed at graduate students, single young professionals, couples without children, and empty-nesters. Likewise, the “affordable units” are not aimed at low-income families, but rather serve as something closer to “workforce housing” for young professionals, teachers, researchers, etc. with modest incomes who likely could find decent housing elsewhere without a subsidy. I suspect that CHFA views the subsidy as an incentive to attract and retain young adults in a State (Connecticut) that is hemorrhaging residents, particularly young people.

In addition to responding to that issue, these “affordable units” also serve to help developers get their developments through the land-use approval process. For many public officials responsible for running the city’s government, large scale and privately-financed development offers an opportunity to fund the operation of this “corporation”. Building permit fees, the sale of property, and the eventual promise of property taxes, jobs, and new workers, visitors, and residents to spend money in the city are appealing from a budgetary/fiscal standpoint.

In my opinion, if people are interested in affordable housing for low income families, they should advocate for and support 1) Community Land Banks; 2) local affordable housing developers; 3) homegrown training in real estate investment for city residents; and 4) for HUD and CHFA to improve/expand/reform its programs aimed at securing housing for low income families. I don’t think that continued reliance on extracting benefits (“affordable” housing units) from big developments is going to get us very far, especially when those subsidized units are open to (and perhaps aimed at) people who probably don’t need the subsidy and that s

posted by: JCFremont on December 1, 2017  8:05am

How about we look at after deduction net income, the actual money you receive in your weekly or bi-monthly paycheck that people use to pay the rent instead of the Gross Pay. Aren’t we always surprised when we see our box 1 entry on W-2 forms and wonder where the money went. Church St. South failed, 9th Square is on the verge and yet more of this projects are in the pipeline. I think the family’s on the median level with two or three children will or should want to look buying a house. The high or middle high incomes will be temporary renters, the lower levels of the mixed-housing will be there much longer. If the first group find that the complex becomes loud and rundown word will spread and prospective tenants will look area even if they pay more in rent. In the end the landlord/owners will find it easier to rent to heavily subsidized tenets, in which the government portion never equals the amount of the cost of upkeep and maintenance.

posted by: wendy1 on December 1, 2017  8:17am

Inadequate, pathetic, and ugly.  Looks like senior “housing”.  I expect cheap fixtures, crap appliances, and underpaid labor.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on December 1, 2017  8:19am

3/5ths, this and similar developments are going to do little to help low-income people. But they are not directly displacing anyone; no one has lived on these properties for decades. This development is unlikely to indirectly displace anyone because there is little unsubsidized housing in the immediate area. The facts in this case differ from those in the other cities you will undoubtedly will cite.

I largely agree with Jonathan Hopkins. The households who will move into the “affordable” units will likely have incomes near the top of the limit. They will have relatively little need for the subsidy. But, whether or not a set-aside requirement is desirable, the city simply does not have the legal authority to Impose one unless it owns the land or is providing financial assistance for the development.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 1, 2017  8:43am

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on December 1, 2017 8:19am

3/5ths, this and similar developments are going to do little to help low-income people.

Not If New Haven does what Newark N.J. is doing.which is inclusionary zoning.

  The “Inclusionary Zoning for Affordable Housing” Ordinance, which is an amendment to Title 41 of the Newark Zoning and Land Use Regulations, will require developers who are creating or rehabilitating housing projects of more than 30 units to set aside 20 percent of them as affordable housing. It mandates housing affordable to those in a different income levels ranging from 40 percent of the area’s median income to 80 percent. The marketing of the affordable units must give priority to Newark residents. Unlike New York City and other cities with inclusionary zoning, the Newark ordinance applies to all new residential development throughout the city, not just in designated areas. And, unlike other cities, the affordable units must be provided on site and not in other locations. The affordable units may involve home ownership as well as rentals. The Council also passed a measure to encourage developers to partner with Newark minority and women contractors as co-developers and to provide affordable housing. Such developments will receive tax abatements. It is part of Mayor Baraka’s strategy of creating more affordable housing throughout the city and enabling small Newark contractors to become developers in order to provide jobs and strengthen the city’s economy.Developers, with the approval of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, can make a voluntary cash payment into the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund in lieu of constructing all or part of the income-restricted
units required by the legislation. 

https://www.newarknj.gov/news/mayor-baraka-hails-passage-of-inclusionary-zoning-ordinance-groundbreaking-measuring-will-promote-development-of-affordable-housing

posted by: 1644 on December 1, 2017  11:18am

3/5’s. Seeing as no one, not even the those sleeping rough, are living in the desolate surface parking and vacant schools that this project will occupy, no one will be pushed out. 
As JCF says, if the affordable apartments are rented to loud, unruly families, such as many of those who occupied The Jungle,  the whole complex will go south.  I suspect the owner will market the “affordable” units to single folks and couples, working as lab techs PCAs, interns w/spouses, etc.
Like WENDY, I am disheartened that so much “upscale” housing is incredibly bland architecture and cheap construction, especially in a city once known for cutting edge architecture.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on December 1, 2017  2:19pm

3/5ths, municipalities are “creatures of the state”. They can only do the things their state legislature allows them to do. New Jersey allows municipalities to adopt inclusionary zoning requirements; Connecticut does not. It would be great if Connecticut adopted such provisions, but I’m not going to hold my breath in the mean time.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 1, 2017  3:18pm

posted by: 1644 on December 1, 2017 11:18am

3/5’s. Seeing as no one, not even the those sleeping rough, are living in the desolate surface parking and vacant schools that this project will occupy, no one will be pushed out. 

They are being push out due to high rents.When I move up here from New York in1991.I had friends of mine who live down town.There gone. In fact one of my friends had a small apartment on Orange St over top of a store.He was paying 500.00.Had had to move due to the fact that the rent went up to 900.00 a month puls light and gas bills.look at the rents for this building and like AverageTaxpayer said For a typical New Haven family of four, median income is about $38,000/year,—not the $88,000/yr number Salvatore, the City and the NHI are sharing.Also like loquacious truth said. $1800 for a 1 bedroom doesn’t really work when your only taking home $2400 a month.So people are being push out.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on December 1, 2017 2:19pm

3/5ths, municipalities are “creatures of the state”. They can only do the things their state legislature allows them to do. New Jersey allows municipalities to adopt inclusionary zoning requirements; Connecticut does not. It would be great if Connecticut adopted such provisions, but I’m not going to hold my breath in the mean time.

And this is why the people must fight to get inclusionary zoning requirements.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
Frederick Douglass

posted by: 1644 on December 1, 2017  4:31pm

Realmom:  Since the $5 million making these “affordable” apartments possible is state, not city money, I would expect the apartments to be available to all state residents, at the least.  When I was young, social commentators considered “white [i.e. middle class] flight” a bad thing for cities.  Yet, now that that trend is reversing, revitalizing the economies of places like New Haven, the reversal is somehow a bad thing.

posted by: 1644 on December 1, 2017  7:05pm

3/5’s You realize that, using the CPI-U (consumer inflation for urban consumers) as a discount rate, the value of $500 in 1991 is precisely $900 today ($1 in 1991 = $1.80 in 2017).  So, in real (inflation adjusted) dollars, your friend’s rent was the same in 1991 as it is today.  Other areas have certainly seen higher housing price increase.  A suburban apartment I rented for $600/month in 1996 rents for $1400/month today.  In any case, as others have pointed out, this project is being built on uninhabited land.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 2, 2017  6:04pm

posted by: 1644 on December 1, 2017 7:05pm

3/5’s You realize that, using the CPI-U (consumer inflation for urban consumers) as a discount rate, the value of $500 in 1991 is precisely $900 today ($1 in 1991 = $1.80 in 2017).  So, in real (inflation adjusted) dollars, your friend’s rent was the same in 1991 as it is today.

Most analysts who have studied the CPI-U have found that the CPUI- can Uunderstate inflation

A suburban apartment I rented for $600/month in 1996 rents for $1400/month today.  In any case, as others have pointed out, this project is being built on uninhabited land.

But how many people in the area will be able to afford the rent.And this is where the push out will start.

posted by: 1644 on December 2, 2017  7:56pm

3/5"s, If the CPI-U understates inflation, the rent of your friend’s Orange Street apartment decreased in real (inflation adjusted)  terms.  There are a lot of rents I cannot afford, such as the $6K for the Union Trust building penthouse.  Since I never lived there, however, the fact that someone else is living there doesn’t me he pushed me, or anyone else, out.  In fact, the addition of desirable housing in former office spaces and vacant lots in New Haven exerts downward pressure on housing prices in other areas.  Hence, we have seen housing values in Westville drop, making housing there more affordable.  As an added benefit, the addition of quality urban housing may lessen demand for suburban housing, meaning fewer new developments which destroy forests and farmland.