Bruce Ratner is paying the rent.
Answering criticism from fair-housing advocates, the Atlantic Yards developer says his company is guaranteeing to pay the difference between the current rent of soon-to-be-evicted tenants within the footprint of his development and the rent for “a comparable unit,” until the tenants are relocated into a Yards building.
Initially, Ratner only promised to pay the rent for three years — but many worried that tenants would get burned if construction of Atlantic Yards dragged on beyond that time frame.
Of course, if Ratner never builds Atlantic Yards, all bets are off, according to the new deal, which is contained in the state’s final environmental impact statement certified last week.
The estimated 55 renters, of course, must still pay their base rent, lest they be considered in breach of contract and ruled no longer eligible for Ratner’s payments.
One housing advocate cautiously commended the developer this week.
“It sounds like an improvement if tenants can have confidence that they can have their rent paid until they are moved into a new unit,” said Brad Lander, executive director of the Pratt Center for Community Development. “But there is still insecurity for the tenants if the project falls apart.”
It’s more than insecurity, said George Locker, an attorney for 13 rent-stabilized tenants in the 22-acre Atlantic Yards footprint.
“If this project isn’t built, these people will lose their homes and get nothing in return,” he said. The agreement still violates state [relocation] law. This is not state law, this is Ratner law.”
Forest City Ratner Vice President Jim Stuckey declined a chance to comment when approached by The Brooklyn Papers at a Ratner-sponsored tree-lighting this week.