How Is "Affordable Housing" Handed Out?
September 24, 2009, 04:39 PM
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Rich Calder in the New York Post answers a question I've long been asking: How is "affordable housing" (i.e., below market price housing) handed out? Who gets to decide who gets housing subsidized by the neighbors?

Despite a string of scandals that recently led Congress to cut off its federal funding, ACORN still stands to make millions of dollars off its support for Brooklyn’s controversial Atlantic Yards project, The Post has learned.

The left-wing organization — longtime boosters of the $4.9 billion NBA arena and residential- and office-tower project — says it expects to be tapped to market and help decide who gets to live in the coveted, but long-delayed, 2,250 affordable-housing units planned for Atlantic Yards.

This, after Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner helped bail ACORN out of financial trouble last September with a $1 million loan and a $500,000 grant, according to memos.

Although contracts are not yet been signed, Ismene Speliotis, executive director of ACORN’s New York chapter, told The Post her organization “expects to play a role in the marketing and lease-up” of the Prospect Heights project’s affordable housing to be underwritten by the city.

The work would include community outreach and screening people to determine qualified applicants, and then scandal-scarred ACORN would be entrusted with overseeing a lottery system to choose who gets the housing. Ratner’s firm is expected to manage the housing.

When asked how much ACORN might make off Atlantic Yards, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development referred questions to Ratner, who said via a spokesman it wasn’t the “appropriate time” to make such “decisions.”

But Anita MonCrief, a former ACORN official-turned-whistleblower, estimates the anticipated deal could bring the group $5 million to $10 million annually over multiple years from the public and private sector based on other housing deals ACORN has nationwide.

Patti Hagan, a Prospects Heights activist and former operative for ACORN’s political arm, the Working Families Party, said she’s learned the hard way that “ACORN is a corrupt organization that had its silence bought by Ratner.”

As Ratner was quietly funneling $1.5 million in grants and loans to ACORN last year, his firm was reeling from the economic downtown and laying staff off and bringing in “value engineers” to shave Atlantic Yards' costs.

Critics and some project supporters began questioning whether Ratner could deliver the affordable housing and jobs he promised. But ACORN — which was embroiled in an embezzlement scandal and owed millions of dollars in back taxes — remained silent and accepted Ratner’s gift.


Sounds like nice work if you can get it.

It's a fascinating symbiotic relationship between capitalists and professional anti-capitalists. The capitalists aren't just paying protection money to avoid a few protesters. They are also buying ACORN's reputation as a leftist power-to-the-people street organization to demonstrate to center-left politicians that their giant project is good for the poor.

By the way, Ismene Speliotis? What kind of name is that? I found one politician with that name, and he's from Boston and his first name is Theodore, so I would guess it's Greek.

Have you ever noticed that leftist organizations that claim to represent poor people of color don't always follow strict affirmative action guidelines when it comes to their really good jobs? Like the Hispanic union SEIU, which is headed by Andy Stern. Or, for example, here's a picture of ACORN's founder Wade Rathke, who looks like if he ever went outside in the sun, he might burst into flames.

Or here's John Taylor, head of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (the "nation's social justice trade association"), who looks like a cross between John Connally and Nathan Lane.