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Report: Amazon’s HQ2 could eliminate 1,500 affordable housing units in NYC

Report: Amazon’s HQ2 could eliminate 1,500 affordable housing units in NYC
[Photo: Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons]

While New York politicians will certainly continue bloviating about the all the benefits that Amazon’s HQ2 will bring to the city, new evidence sure makes it seem like poor people will be the ones paying for it.

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Not only are the state and city giving the company huge tax incentives–and I mean huge!–but it turns out Amazon is also going to take up space that was intended for affordable housing. So while Amazon’s very presence will surely jack up the already-rising cost of living in New York, the company’s footprint may further deny people in need of a new place to live.

According to Politico, two different developers were planning to build new housing complexes–which would have included around 1,500 affordable units. Now those spaces are both being scooped up by Amazon for the company’s new buildings. One of the developers may be able to build something much smaller, but it’s unclear if it will stick to the housing plan or go for something else.

“The fact that massive public subsidies are helping eliminate affordable housing units is just the latest reason this bad deal needs to be torn up and thrown away,” said state Senator Michael Gianaris, via Politico.

The payoff is especially egregious given that Mayor Bill de Blasio has long made affordable housing a pillar of his political agenda. Now, it seems he’s backing off on this promise to welcome a corporate behemoth.

I reached out to Amazon for comment and will update if I hear back.

Of course, this is just one relatively small concession the city is making to be one of Amazon’s chosen locations. For instance, New York is handing over over $33 million to the company next year; in return, Amazon only needs to create 595 jobs in 2019. Not to mention the helipad Amazon is requiring the city to provide–likely to shuttle important people who wouldn’t deign to ride the subway or take a car.

Overall, it’s becoming more clear that New York politicians wanted so desperately to secure a deal, they didn’t consider the cost. The cost, we’re learning, includes millions of dollars from taxpayers, an additional burden on the city’s infrastructure, and actual houses for those who need them most.

Maybe that’s what de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo consider progress, but let’s see the results in 10 years.

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