Some relief is coming for New Yorkers desperate for cheaper apartments, particularly in three of Brooklyn's hottest neighborhoods, which were the top spots for affordable housing creation in the borough this year, according to city data.
Prospect Heights, Downtown Brooklyn and Greenpoint will be home to about 75 percent of the 3,069 newly constructed affordable Brooklyn units that the city's department of Housing Preservation and Development approved in the last fiscal year. An additional 3,846 affordable apartments in the borough were created by preservation.
Housing experts said the addition of these homes, which are below market rate, will help the communities evolve.
"This is where the demand is, and the developers are moving in," said Jonathan Bowles, executive director for the nonprofit Center for an Urban Future.
The housing preservation department approved 20,326 affordable units through preservation and new construction in the 2015 fiscal year, which is 7,054 more than the previous year and the highest in the agency's 37-year history. Affordable units are defined as apartments where the rents cover 30 percent or less of annual income for residents who make less than average median income.
The additional units come at a time when the average rent in Brooklyn and Manhattan is $2,730 and $3,963 per month, respectively, according to a recent report by real estate group MNS.
Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said the administration is committed to reaching 200,000 new and preserved affordable housing units in the next 10 years.
Norvell said the city has aggressively pushed to preserve units where affordability deals were expiring.
The agency added 11,842 units through preservation, according to the data; however, construction of newer units was key for the recent affordable increase, and housing experts say this is what made Brooklyn the hot spot this year.
The buildings with the largest number of affordable units are in upcoming projects like Pacific Park -- formerly known as Atlantic Yards -- which will have 480 affordable units; City Point in downtown Brooklyn, which will have 200 affordable apartments; and Greenpoint Landings, which will have 191 affordable units.
Some groups, however, say this still doesn't meet the needs of working-class New Yorkers.
The average median income, or AMI, in New York City, which is $86,300 for a family of four, determines who is eligible for the apartments and their rents. For example, a family of four making less than $43,150 a year -- half the AMI -- can apply for a four-bedroom apartment with gas and electricity included that rents for $1,252.
Jose Lopez, an organizer at the nonprofit Make the Road New York, noted 14,116 approved units will be available to people with annual incomes between $38,851 and $62,150 for a family of three.
"It's a wide range, and even if we took the lowest number, a lot of our members don't make that much," he said.