After a week of “secret talks” with leadership from one of the state’s most powerful interest groups, details are emerging regarding Governor Cuomo’s first major steps toward reviving 421-a. The New York Times broke the news yesterday evening about the first sign of a turning point for the controversial billion-dollar, affordable-housing tax abatement that was allowed to expire in January.
At an emotional Lower East Side town hall meeting on Saturday afternoon, hundreds of concerned residents, a number of small business owners, and representatives of community organizations were visibly upset. Instead of being met by Mayor Bill de Blasio himself, they were greeted by a representative from the administration. “We have been reaching out to him for months,” Jei Fong, a coalition representative, told B+B. “We personally invited him to this meeting. This is a real slap in the face.”
City and state government officials are cracking down on landlords who collect tax benefits for affordable housing incentives but don’t follow through on their obligations. This practice was one of the major criticisms of the 421-a tax incentive leveled by activists and city leaders in favor of repealing the rent laws that governed the incentive when they were up for renewal over the summer.
Minutes and hours after Albany extended rent laws for four years, elected officials were already complaining that changes to the laws don’t go far enough.
“Just when it seemed Albany couldn’t get worse, it did,” wrote State Senator Daniel Squadron, whose district includes the Lower East Side, East Village, Greenpoint and Williamsburg. “This year’s legislative session has just ended. I’m sorry to say, there’s a lot to be frustrated and disappointed about. This year offered a chance to extend and strengthen rent laws, but Albany came up short.”