From the NY Times:
For all the booms and busts he has lived through, Vincent Riso never thought it would come to this: Offering free 42-inch, flat-screen televisions to lure buyers into government-subsidized homes.
Units at Waters Edge, city-subsidized condominiums in Far Rockaway, Queens, have sold much more slowly than expected.
Historically, such homes have sold quickly. But not at Waters Edge at Arverne, a stretch of 130 town house condominiums Mr. Riso’s company, the Briarwood Organization, built between Far Rockaway’s boardwalk and the A train’s rust-streaked overpass in Queens.
So last spring, Briarwood, which got $12.8 million in city and state subsidies for Waters Edge, began throwing in as much as seven months’ free maintenance on some units, along with the TV. Still, as of mid-February, roughly three years after the units began arriving on the market, 22 of them had yet to sell.
The city has received accolades nationwide for its efforts to provide housing affordable to middle- and lower-income households. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has pledged to build, save or restore 165,000 such housing units by 2014. But while the city is still filling up low-income rentals, the housing program is struggling on the ownership front.
Sales are sluggish at some projects, particularly ones in poorer neighborhoods aimed at middle-income buyers. Few units will be built any time soon: since July 2008, the city has made only two deals with developers for new home ownership projects, down from two dozen deals in the 12 months before that.