Op-Ed | The Boston Road project is not affordable to the majority of the community

2560 Boston Road smaller rendering
The proposed development project for 2560 Boston Road.
Rendering courtesy Slate Property Group

Slate Property Group proposes to rezone three lots, including the Fine Fare Supermarket lot, on Boston Road from Barnes to Matthews avenues for mixed-use affordable housing consisting of 333 apartments as well as the supermarket and a community facility. The sales pitch that no one pays more than 30% of their income for rent in this 2560 Boston Road proposal makes this project affordable. However, true affordability is whether the residents’ incomes can qualify to rent these apartments.

Per census data, in 2021 the median income for households within a .25-mile radius and .50-mile radius of the proposed project is barely more than $45,000, and 55% of the population within this area makes less than $50,000. Of the apartments, 40%, or 133 units, will be at 90% of Area Median Income (AMI), which means the household income requirement for one person is $84,000 and for two persons is $96,000, for rents of $2,100 and $2,400, respectively. The remaining 60% of the apartments, or 199 units, will be at 50% or below of the AMI, which means the household income requirement at 50% AMI for one person is $47,000 and two persons at $53,000 for rents at $1,200 and $1,300, respectively.

If more than half of the community makes less than $50,000 and its median income is $45,000 then this proposed project is not affordable to the majority of the community.

The argument that we need to build to address the entire city affordability crisis is valid but ignores the cost of affordable housing. The proposed project estimate of almost 900 new residents at these 332 apartments — apartment for the superintendent not included — with 65% of household incomes more than $45,000, will result in indirect displacement, better known as gentrification. Does it make sense to house one person and displace two or three people with less income and who are more vulnerable to homelessness, or sharing rooms in overcrowded apartments that puts more burden on our infrastructure?

Reviewing the racial equity report for this project and the Neighborhood Tabulation Area, the population is 87% non-white with more than 50% below the poverty line and 33% severely rent burdened. And almost half of existing apartments are not rent stabilized. This area has the highest level of risk on the NYC Equitable Development Displacement Risk Map. The 2560 Boston Road Proposed project could reduce the rent-burdened community, who pay more than 30% of their income for rent, if the income band is reduced so the majority of the community’s income qualifies them to rent here.

Slate Property Group seeks to finance the project with the Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) Mix and Match program with terms of 40%-60% at 80% of the AMI, and the remaining 40%-60% at 120% AMI. These income bands are too high for our community.

At the recent city planning hearing on this proposal, Friends of Pelham Parkway, an environmental and social justice group, did request an environmental impact study to measure the indirect displacement resulting from this project. The group also requested a different HPD program that fits this community’s area median income, as well as an independent managing agent to ensure the developer is complying. This massive project will burden our existing infrastructure, including schools with no available seats, so we want to ensure the community benefits from it and isn’t harmed with displacement.

The 2560 Boston Road rezoning was heard recently by the NYC City Planning Commission and the review process is still open for public comments on their site. After the review process, the rezoning application will be heard by the City Council for final decision based on the review process and community input.

Roxanne Delgado is the founder of Friends of Pelham Parkway.