Workforce Housing Coalition Letter to Mr. Thomas F. Prendergast

Workforce Housing Coalition

c/o 75 South Broadway-Suite 340

White Plains, NY 10601

(914) 683-1010

www.workforcehousingcoalition.org    

 

Monday, February 23, 2014 

Mr. Thomas F. Prendergast

Chairman Metropolitan Transportation Authority

347 Madison Avenue

New York, NY 10017-3739 

Re:  Harrison Transit Oriented Development  

Dear Mr. Prendergast: 

Please distribute this letter to all MTA Board members for the Wednesday meeting.    It has been two months since we made our presentation before the MTA Board and you made your remarks recognizing the MTA’s responsibility to insure that its resources serve all of its ridership in an equitable way, including land.  We have requested that at least 20% of the apartments in the MTA’s transit oriented development projects be affordable to the region’s workforce adjusted by family size.  For instance, affordability in Westchester County is defined as a two-bedroom apartment for a family of three with income up to $56,000, and rent no more than about $1,400 per month.  We feel this is a reasonable request.  The MTA’s first development in Harrison, New York as currently envisioned, would charge rents of about $3,500 for a two-bedroom apartment, or more than double what working families can afford.   We understand that Avalon has never objected to including 10% affordable units in its Westchester County developments, although it has said nothing publicly.    In December, your Counselor Stephen Morello asked us to be patient while the agency attempted to negotiate a solution with Harrison and the developer to insure that Harrison includes affordable housing in its development plan. Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino publicly endorsed affordable apartments in Harrison and sponsored a meeting between the parties.  In addition, the HUD Monitor in the Westchester County federal consent decree also weighed in, demanding that the county insure affordable apartments in a town among the least diverse and most discriminatory in zoning.  
   
 
However, despite these sincere efforts, we have heard of no progress in reaching a solution and at this point we feel the MTA must back up its words with action.  We respectfully ask the MTA Board on Wednesday to pass a resolution that states in no uncertain terms that affordable workforce housing must be part of every transit oriented development in which the MTA participates.  We would like it to specify a 20% affordability component.  By passing such a resolution, the MTA would send a message that basic fairness cannot be sacrificed for a town nearly the size of Manhattan that has not done one affordable apartment in 25 years. 

 

Sincerely,    
Alexander H. Roberts, Community Housing Innovations, Inc.

James Killoran, Westchester Habitat for Humanity

Lena Anderson, White Plains/Greenburgh NAACP

Graciela Heymann, Westchester Hispanic Coalition

Dennis Hanratty, Mount Vernon United Tenants

David Schwartz, Working Families Party

Veronica Vanterpool, Tri-State Transportation Campaign

V. Elaine Gross, Erase Racism

Greg Maher, The Leviticus Fund

Nada Khader, WESPAC

Mara Winokur, ULI Westchester/Fairfield 

Richard Hyman, Urban Planner

Charles Pateman, Developer

Timothy Lewis, Greenburgh Town Attorney

Posted in Economic and Human Rights