NEW YORK: Abington House, near the High Line in West Chelsea, is a new luxury residential building, and, like a lot of new luxury developments in Manhattan, it’s extremely expensive. The cheapest two-bedroom apartment now listed there rents for $5,850 a month. That gets you only one bathroom; a two-bed, two-bath can run as high as $8,695.
But 78 apartments in the building, or 20 percent of the total, are set aside as affordable housing under New York City’s “inclusionary zoning” program. That means 19 two-bedroom apartments are priced from $687 to $873 – about a 90 percent discount to market rents. Those apartments were granted to 19 households that make from $25,612 to $42,950 a year and won a housing lottery the city held last year.
There are two appealing facts about inclusionary zoning: developers pay for it, so it has no direct fiscal cost at a time when direct subsidy dollars for affordable housing are scarce; and inclusionary zoning produces economic integration, with high- and low-income households living on the same hallways. This is no small thing in Manhattan, where high housing costs – rents rose 19 percent from 2005 to 2012 – are turning it into an island of exclusivity.