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Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Citizens Union
 

Affordable Housing

Affordable Housing

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    The Westchester Rent Guidelines Board is undergoing a shakeup as the two tenant representatives on the nine-member board have tendered their resignations over an appointment they say inappropriately benefits landlords and reeks of cronyism.

    Like its counterparts in New York City and other jurisdictions, the Westchester RGB sets increases in rents for affordable housing in the region just north of the Bronx. Board members are nominated by the Westchester Board of Legislators and appointed by the New York Department of Homes and Community Renewal (...

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    Keith Wright, Charles Rangel, and others (photo via Wright's campaign)


    New York Assemblymember Keith Wright’s congressional campaign has flooded inboxes declaring him a “champion” for tenants. Many see it as an appropriate description for the housing committee chair - his campaign touts the support of “100 tenant leaders” and he has a long history of advocating for renters, starting in the 1980s as the head of the tenant association in Harlem’s Riverton Houses, where he still lives. Wright and his fellow tenants recently settled a lawsuit with their landlord for $2 million after

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    Mayor de Blasio makes an announcement (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


    Passing the buck is one thing. Passing seventy million bucks is quite another.

    Each year, New York City sells between $70 million and $120 million in unpaid tax debt, water charges, and emergency repair loans to a private trust. These liens—which enable the owner to foreclose on the property—then increase rapidly in value. The trust can charge nine percent interest on 1-3 family houses and 18 percent interest on multifamily housing, compounded

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    James (at podium) & Cumbo (in green) at Barclays Center (photo: Azi Paybarah)


    When Public Advocate Letitia (Tish) James served as City Council Member for the 35th District in Brooklyn, from 2003 through 2013, she was a vocal, high-profile opponent of the Atlantic Yards megaproject, as reflected in the 2011 documentary Battle for Brooklyn.

    James was a plaintiff in ...

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    Last week, the New York City Council approved the contested East New York rezoning - the first of 15 proposed neighborhood rezonings through which Mayor de Blasio intends to advance his goal of preserving 120,000 units of affordable housing and producing 80,000 new units at below-market rents. Described by some as a rezoning taking place “under the

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    Mayor de Blasio (photo: Rob Bennett, Mayor's Office)


    As plans to spur new development in areas around New York City proceed, mostly silence surrounds the experience of homeowners who are being pressured by investors to sell. Prior to the City Council’s approval of rezoning East New York, Brooklyn last week, there had been little public discussion of how or whether to ameliorate real estate speculation on small homes. At least in East New York, some homeowner protections have been introduced to the plan, but investor-backed

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    City Council Member Rafael Espinal (second from left) (photo: William Alatriste)


    Colleagues heaped praise on City Council Member Rafael Espinal last week as the deal he negotiated with the de Blasio administration to rezone a portion of his Brooklyn district was passed through committee. The process and the agreement were being watched closely by Council members, especially those whose districts are in the pipeline for rezonings under Mayor de Blasio’s larger housing plan.

    Espinal, who represents most of the area being rezoned, which includes part of East New York,

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    Vicki Been (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


    While sweeping new norms for city land use and housing development were passed into law last month, the debate over how to best achieve affordable housing continues. The larger affordable housing picture was the subject of a Wednesday event hosted by Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, where Vicki Been, commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. were among the guest speakers who presented their views on city

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    Workers at a NYCHA building (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


    For the first time in decades, New York has become a competitive battleground in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. As the race heats up in this delegate-rich state, the two Democratic candidates, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton, have ramped up their outreach, particularly in New York City, home to millions of Democrats.

    Each side has

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    Gov. Cuomo arrives to outline the budget agreement (photo via The Governor's Office)


    Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a sweeping $20 billion plan to build and preserve affordable housing and fight homelessness during his State of the State speech earlier this year. The plan, to be implemented over five years, is expected to create 100,000 new units of affordable housing and 6,000 supportive housing beds for

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    An affordable housing march 


    We have long advocated for the elimination of the 421-a tax abatement because it has been nothing but a giveaway to developers masquerading as a means of affordable housing production. This is why affordable housing advocates across the city celebrated when 421-a expired on January 15.

    Since its expiration, arguments about its possible revival are popping up more and more frequently, along with lamentations about its demise. How quickly we forget the many published ...

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    Hank Prussing's mural, The Spirit of East Harlem (via @ManhattanCB11)


    Pearl Barkley moved to East Harlem in the 1950s, when she was six years old. Her family lived in the Jefferson Houses on 115th Street, where she lives today and works as an organizer with Community Voices Heard, an economic justice advocacy non-profit.

    “Many people remember the fires, the abandoned boarded up buildings, and the people who left,” Barkley said in an interview. Essential services began disappearing from the

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    Housing plans (photo: Ed Reed for the Office of Mayor)

     


     

    Last week, New Yorkers learned that a bill creating a new Citywide Certificate of No Harassment program would be part of the city's new housing deal. The legislation, which will be finalized by a new task force before being adopted, will require landlords to get a certificate confirming that they have not harassed their tenants before demolishing or altering a building.

    This provision of the housing deal is especially good news for tenants across the city.

    As

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    De Blasio & Heastie (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Mayor Bill de Blasio didn't need to see the Assembly and Senate one-house budgets to know where he stands with each chamber - Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is a close ally of the mayor, his fellow New York City Democrat, while Senate Republicans hold a major grudge against de Blasio for leading a failed effort to boot them from the majority two years ago. Most Republican legislators, who control the Senate but not the Assembly, are also philosophically opposed to much of de Blasio's

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    De Blasio rallies for his housing plans (photo: Demetrius Freeman, Mayor's Office)


    After months of public discussion and weeks of private negotiation, the City Council is on the verge of passing, with tweaks, two sweeping changes to the city's land use rules that are key to Mayor Bill de Blasio's housing plan.

    Sources familiar with negotiations say that some details are still being worked through, but that the major tenets of the controversial changes to city zoning text are all but set. A deal may be announced as early as Monday

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    A Vocal-NY protest (Matt Curtis/Vocal-NY)

     


     

    Housing groups are coming to the defense of a report issued this week that critiques Gov. Andrew Cuomo's homelessness policies and questions his attempts to place the blame for a rising homeless population on Mayor Bill de Blasio.

    Kristi Berner, spokesperson for the State's Office of Temporary and Disability insurance, slammed ...

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    De Blasio delivers his State of the City (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office) 


    Experts warn that the entire country could be headed for a financial crisis caused by the fact that an aging workforce has not been saving for retirement.

    Whether due to cutbacks of public pensions, the lack of retirement plans offered by private employers, or workers forced to raid their savings, it appears to a growing number of advocates and politicians that many Americans will be forced to keep

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    City Council Member Donovan Richards (photo: William Alatriste)


    "Why am I here?" City Council Member Donovan Richards asked rhetorically, speaking with energy beyond what you would expect from someone in the midst of chairing 20 hours of land use policy hearings over two days. The question wasn't Richards rethinking his career path or delusion brought on by testimony after testimony about zoning code, it was a way of punctuating his explanation that of course he had to put communities of color at the forefront of discussions about affordable housing in New York

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    photo: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York


    Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday February 19

    PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Mayor de Blasio celebrates the launch of the LinkNYC wifi hubs, via The Mayor's Office; Governor Cuomo rallies to promote paid

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    photo: David Schalliol, from Affordable Housing in New York 


    Should NYCHA give up its controversial plan to generate revenue by adding mixed-income 50/50 percent (market/affordable) buildings at the Wyckoff Gardens and Holmes Towers public housing developments? Many residents and activists at these two sites dedicated for "infill" as

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    photo: a groundbreaking, via the Governor's Office


    As the Legislature moves ahead with its 2016 session in Albany, a top priority must be creating and maintaining affordable housing across the state. We cannot be content with fellow New Yorkers sleeping in three-quarter houses, with too many to a room, because it’s the only alternative. It is only so long until the next severely rent burdened tenant - spending more than 50 percent of their earnings on rent - ends up homeless because they cannot afford their

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    Council Member Donovan Richards (photo via @DRichards13)


    Amid light flakes of snow, about 20 ralliers stood outside City Hall Monday morning and unleashed a flurry of criticism of a key piece of Mayor Bill de Blasio's affordable housing plan. De Blasio's plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing relies in part on proposed changes to the city's land use rules, which are set to go before City Council review this week.

    Members of the Real

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    photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayoral Photography Office


    When I think about my family's future in New York City, I wonder: will there be an affordable, safe, and healthy apartment where I can raise my children and still be able to provide them with everything else that they need?

    This is the question that our city government has to address if it wants to protect low-income and working class New Yorkers.

    My husband and I live in Bushwick in a one-bedroom apartment with our three children—one of whom has special needs—and

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    Mayor de Blasio talks with parents (photo: Ed Reed, Mayor's Office) 


    Community advocates are making it clear that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plans to rezone neighborhoods are not acceptable unless they include broader economic development initiatives like local hiring.

    As part of his ambitious affordable housing plan, de Blasio has announced several communities the city plans to rezone first in an effort to create more density, build affordable units, and improve neighborhoods. When the mayor initially

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    Council Member Greenfield leads a press conference (photo: William Alatriste) 


    The next ten days are an especially critical period for Mayor Bill de Blasio's housing plan. While negotiations around a new state-level program to incentivize affordable housing production continue and Gov. Andrew Cuomo has promised to soon flesh out general affordable housing plans he announced during his recent State of the State speech, city-level changes being sought by de Blasio are on the move.

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