More Middle-Class Housing is Needed for Peekskill

It’s difficult to find a reasonably-priced apartment in Peekskill if you make $40,000 or $50,000 a year. That isn’t right. A healthy mix of housing is critical for Peekskill to thrive and remain equitable.

We’re at risk of only having housing on each end of the price spectrum. Peekskill has built low-income housing over the years, and now developers are building market-rate apartments primarily aimed at those making over $100,000. That leaves few options for people who don’t qualify for low-income units but can’t afford to pay $30,000 a year in “market” rents.

Right now, the mayor and Common Council have a chance to address that – but are coming up short.

A developer wants to build 78 units on Central Avenue featuring high rents and luxury amenities but needs to buy public land to move forward. Because of this leverage, the council has a rare chance to create dozens of reduced-rent units for those earning roughly $45,000 to $75,000, the exact housing that’s in short supply.

The developer has offered a plan with a healthy mix of prices, including apartments for the working and middle class. This would mean that more teachers, health care workers, hospitality staff and many others who give so much to Peekskill could actually afford to live here.

Unfortunately, the council insists on backing an option that includes just eight units with reduced, reasonable rents. The remaining units would be market rate, including $2,700 one-bedrooms and $3,200 two-bedrooms, way out of reach for most families. There is nothing stopping the Common Council from supporting the middle class, other than a desire to attract more people making six figures.

Instead of looking at this as a chance to add market-rate units, the council needs to see this as a rare chance to create reasonably-priced housing. The city doesn’t usually have leverage and it would be a shame to miss this opportunity.

I urge the mayor and council to choose the mixed-income option and ensure more housing for the middle class before selling public land to a private developer.

 Conor Greene