The forgotten class : reconceptualizing contemporary middle-income housing in New York City
Author(s)Milchman, Karina (Karina Faye)
Reconceptualizing contemporary middle-income housing in New York City
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Lawrence J. Vale.
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New York City's costly real estate poses housing affordability challenges for not only low- or even moderate-income households, but also for the so-called "middle class." Because New York is predominantly a renter's market, federal home ownership supports that disproportionately benefit middleto- upper income households nationally do not function as effectively here. Meanwhile, the majority of the city's subsidized housing programs primarily serve low-income households. Consequently, the middle class is increasingly priced out of the market and this vital residential base is shrinking. There is little research on middle-class loss from high-cost cities and even less on recent housing strategies for retention of this group. New York City is at the forefront of this issue with its New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP), intended to preserve and construct 165,000 affordable units between 2003 and 2014. With a special focus on middle-income households--including the development of Hunter's Point South (HPS) in Queens, the largest housing project conceived for this population since the 1970s--this initiative pioneers contemporary approaches to middle-class affordable housing. Through an examination of the NHMP and HPS, this thesis exposes the difficulty of subsidizing middle-income housing. It assesses the City's efforts to define an amorphous population, considers the political value of defining the "middle class" broadly, and explains who actually benefits from housing class broadly, and explains who actually benefits from housing developed for this target group. It also considers the limitations of current housing policy to address the needs of this demographic, questions what constitutes middle-class need, and considers what role the City should play in addressing it. Ultimately, this thesis concludes that much of the new "middle-class affordable housing" will likely be home to upper-middle-class households composed of singles, couples, and some small families. It asserts that this population has the means to live in New York City, but is disinclined to locate in many neighborhoods that are affordable at their income levels. The City has responded to this dilemma with affordable housing that is inclusive of an income range extending well beyond the median, and has undertaken development that transforms more neighborhoods into what this group desires. Meanwhile, true middle-class households face increasingly restricted housing options. In response to these findings, this thesis proposes a definitional narrowing of the middle-income range to more effectively target housing subsidies. It also suggests a more stringent approach to structuring the public-private partnerships that develop middle-income housing, and explores new models for future development. Inevitably, city-level policy is not sufficient to fully address systemic issues of inequality.
Thesis (M.C.P.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2013.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 106-116).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.