Affordable Housing can be a confusing term, especially lately as its more prevalent in the news than ever. And with Affordable Housing comes lots of other termsrezoning, 421a, LIHTC and SLIHC tax credits, AMI, subsidy, rent regulation, MWBE, etc.so many words and phrases to know, and thats not all. After learning the terms you have to go the next step and learn how these words and phrases connect with each other and in what order, conceptually and when applied to your neighborhood.

I get many calls and emails asking if I know what many of these terms mean, so I thought that sharing some of these questions and answers with you would help a lot, especially to those of you in the midst of a rezoning initiative or that are trying to understand the mechanics of a local affordable development being considered. Ill post a short weekly column on Bk Reader with terminology presented in laypersons words and with online references in case you wish to delve deeper. Ill start from the basics covering the different terms, as well as how they fit together, and in what order. To further bolster understanding of terms Ill also provide the occasional quote, interview, or project reference from affordable housing providers, policy makers, elected officials, tenant advocates, lenders, and more.

A little about me: I work in several subsets of the affordable housing industry, providing supportive services to developers, contractors, and property managers. My firm, BTN Consulting Services, provides government compliance (MWBE, ICAP, Section 3, and others), comprehensive local hiring plans, and an array of tenant advocacy related services to property managers. My experience spans many years in affordable housing across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.

Columns will focus on affordable housing specific to New York City and New York State. Ill include federal programs and policies, but only insofar as they relate to New York City and State. The columns will be written much like an FAQ (frequently asked questions), using the following format:

  • Define a term or policy
  • Give a real-world example of it, where applicable
  • Occasionally get a quote on the topic from a policy maker or industry professional
  • Provide links for further reading

Its important to state not only what this column will be, but also what it wont. It will not be an editorial column. Ill stay away from sharing my own opinions on policy or projects, but may, for the sake of definition, include other persons differing viewpoints on a particular policy, and provide links for further reading of those differing viewpoints. I want to keep with the overall goal of providing an easy to understand glossary of terms, so please keep that in mind if you post a question to me in the comments section. That said, a robust, respectful debate of opinions between readers, posted in the comments section, is a good thing on any subject matter, not just affordable housing.

In the next few weeks you can look forward to columns that define terms like AMI, subsidy (there are many types of subsidy and its not always in the form of money), rent regulation, inclusionary zoning, and more. If theres a specific affordable housing policy or term in the news, use the comments section to suggest it as a future column. Ill try to adjust the column schedule to accommodate emerging trends and news.

Everything above will begin with my first column, titled What exactly is Affordable Housing and how is it created? Itll explain, in straightforward laypersons terms, the basic mechanics behind creating a typical affordable housing development. That upcoming column will serve as the building block for future columns.

Thanks for reading!


Manny Burgos

Manny Burgos is the CEO of By the Numbers Consulting Services Corp (BTN Consulting), a leading provider of supportive services to the New York housing and commercial development and property management...

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