New North Side Housing Complex Brings More Affordable Housing to Broome County

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BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) – An affordable housing complex, called “Canal Plaza,” is set to open on Binghamton’s North Side in September. Its creators said it may help reduce the rate of rent burden in that neighborhood.

(Jillian Forstadt/WSKG)

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), tenants who spend over 30 percent of their income on rent are considered “rent burdened.”

More than half of all renters in Broome County fall into that category. According to a 2017 housing study commissioned by Broome County’s economic development arm, The Agency, 54 percent of renters in the county and 57 percent of renters in Binghamton pay over 30 percent of their income for rent.

Homeowners in Broome County are significantly less burdened. Just 23 percent of homeowners in the county and 27 percent of homeowners in Binghamton put over 30 percent of their incomes toward housing.

Elaine Miller, of the Binghamton Housing Authority, links the local housing burden to neglect from landlords and other investors.

“We have an older housing stock, we have many, many absentee landlords, and just a general sense of disinvestment in the housing stock,” Miller said.

The number of homes required to close Broome County’s affordable housing gap is close to 10,000. Miller said building the apartments at Canal Plaza is an incremental step toward closing that gap.

Rent at the complex sits below market value and ranges by household income. To qualify for residency, applicants must earn at or below 60 percent of the area median income. Low rent, however, is not enough to unburden residents. According to Miller, reducing housing burdens also requires that communities are livable, as well as affordable.

“You always want to make sure that these are built in areas that have amenities in walking distance—bus transportation, but also stores and doctors offices, things like that,” Miller said.

The housing complex is mixed-use. It will include the neighborhood’s first grocery store in almost 25 years and commercial space on its bottom floor. Miller said those factors can help bring reinvestment to the North Side.

Funding for the $21-million complex came from nine sources, including the New York State Homes and Community Renewal, which provided federal low-income housing tax credits .