By Patrick Donachie
Queens residents seeking affordable housing options are up against a sparsity of supply and overwhelming demand, according to experts who gathered during a two-part housing conference hosted by state Sen. James Sanders (D-Far Rockaway). Sanders held dual meetings in Jamaica and Far Rockaway to inform community members about the methods of finding affordable housing.
“Most residents simply cannot pay the high market rate prices for real estate and rentals,” Sanders said. “There are options available, however, and that’s the reason for this conference today – to educate the public on how they can stay in the neighborhoods that some of them have called home their entire lives.”
Sanders said residents seeking affordable housing could make an account on the Housing Connect website, run by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development. A representative from HPD admitted that the demand was vast, with Housing Connect getting as many as 150,000 applications for every 100 units.
After filling out an account with Housing Connect, potential applicants can apply to any available affordable housing and can sign up to receive e-mail notifications when new affordable housing units become available.
Several speakers also described new affordable housing units that were opening in Queens, including Beach Green Dunes in Far Rockaway. Representatives for Blue Stone Development, which is developing the project, said the deadline to apply for affordable units was Feb. 6, 2017. Blue Stone representatives said there were 12,600 applicants for 100 units in the first three days of the open lottery. Sanders also detailed a new addition to the Northeastern Towers at 13110 Guy Brewer Blvd. in Jamaica, which would consist of 130 affordable units. Construction was scheduled to begin in 2018 and would be completed by 2020.
A representative from Queens Legal Services also was on hand to outline the rights of tenants when trying to stay in their residences. Senior staff attorney Amy Hammersmith said all tenants are protected from landlord harassment, including threats, repairs at unexpected or odd hours and inspections that are unnecessary. Tenants are also protected under the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, she said.
She encouraged anyone who felt they had been discriminated against to file a complaint with the city’s Human Rights Commission, or if necessary to go to court against a landlord they felt had harassed them.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona