NYCHA’s recent decision to lease-out auxiliary use property adjacent to existing housing projects, will certainly help the agency raise much needed capital and also generate a great deal of debate throughout the city. One point of contention is the affordable component of the new housing being constructed on this newly leased property. Developers will be utilizing the 80/20 program in which 20% of the new units must be reserved for low-income tenants earning no greater than 50% of area median income. While 80/20 accounts for a small portion of total affordable units throughout the city, it has become a key strategy for developers building in prime locations, especially in Manhattan.

Durst Fetner’s development at 625 W. 57th highlights both the strengths and controversies surrounding 80/20. Under current plans, 150 out of the 750-unit project will be set aside as affordable. Affordability however will be guaranteed for a specific period of time, in this case 35 years, leading to pushback from some community leaders looking for permanent affordability. Nevertheless, the 80/20 program has made it economically feasible to create a significant amount of affordable housing units in a luxury market.

Mixed-income strategies have become increasingly popular in the affordable housing industry, with both developers and policy makers agreeing on general principals and goals. With the right blend of incentives and subsides, mixed-income programs like 80/20 continues to add desperately needed units to the affordable housing stock while also creating vibrant, economically diverse neighborhoods.