2005 — Onward and Upward

Affordable Housing, Education and 802's Fight to Keep Music Live!President's Report

Volume CV, No. 1January, 2005

David Lennon

On Dec. 13, Local 802 testified on behalf of the Hudson Yards Affordable Housing Committee before the New York City Council. As Allegro went to press, the council was holding hearings on the redevelopment of the Far West Side of Manhattan. 802’s testimony represented the broadest labor coalition on affordable housing. In the weeks prior to the hearings, the committee met with the city’s Housing and Preservation Department and the NYC Planning Commission as we prioritized our goals. Given the significance of this issue, I have printed our testimony in its entirety.

Hudson Yards Affordable
Housing Committee
New York City Council Testimony,
Land Use Committee
Monday, December 13, 2004

My name is David Lennon. I am president of Local 802, the New York Musicians’ Union and chair of the Hudson Yards Affordable Housing Committee. I want to thank Zoning and Franchises Chair Tony Avella, and fellow City Council members, for allowing me the opportunity to testify.

The Hudson Yards Affordable Housing Committee was created in response to the proposed rezoning of the Far West Side of Manhattan. Our committee has brought together a diversity of unions from the arts and entertainment industry to the building and construction trades with the common goal of increasing affordable housing opportunities within the Hudson Yards plan. The committee represents the collective memberships of Musicians’ Local 802, the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers (ATPAM), the Motion Picture Projectionists, Video Technicians and Allied Crafts Local 306, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 817, the Building and Construction Trades Council, the District Council of Carpenters, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District 9, the Mason Tenders District Council, the Operating Engineers, and the New York City Central Labor Council. This committee has also been working closely with the New York State AFL-CIO.

Some individual members of the committee have taken positions on other aspects of the City’s development plan, while other members of the committee remain neutral on the plan except in regards to affordable housing.

The committee respectfully requests that the City Council considers the following improvements to the current Hudson Yards plan:

First, we recommend establishing a broader range of incomes that would qualify for affordable housing by extending the eligibility cap as follows:

  • 20% of the affordable units should be available to people with incomes up to 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI).
  • 50% of the affordable units should be available to people with incomes up to 100% of AMI
  • 30% of affordable units should be available to people with incomes up to 125% of AMI.

By broadening the range of incomes, not only will affordable housing opportunities be made available to lower income New Yorkers; we will also help working middle-class households from being priced-out of Manhattan.

Second, we also recommend increasing permanent affordable housing opportunities by requiring that no less than 30% of all housing units constructed in the Hudson Yards neighborhood be permanently affordable.

Third, while we are pleased that the City Planning Commission passed an extension of inclusionary housing, we would seek to increase inclusionary housing bonus incentives. Further, we seek to revise the income eligibility requirements to qualify applicants with fluctuating incomes. Our members’ skill and expertise has helped make this great city what it is today. Artists and construction workers share a common element in their work in that work is sometimes episodic and typically fluctuates from year to year. We must find a way to qualify those workers for such affordable housing initiatives.

Finally, it is critical that housing be built responsibly with the quality and expertise of union labor. The only realistic way to achieve this goal is to ensure higher density, which can only increase affordable housing opportunities as well.

Last, but certainly not least, it is a priority that any residents displaced through eminent domain be successfully relocated, including, if they are eligible, being given priority for any future affordable housing opportunities created by this initiative.

In conclusion, the Hudson Yards Affordable Housing Committee is a standing committee. We look forward to working with the New York City Council and the administration in realizing these goals. Thank you for your time.