You may not have realized it, but the city has been in the midst of a “developocalypse” since January, when the state’s 421-a program expired. For decades, the program had fueled development by excusing building owners of property taxes for up to 25 years so long as they devoted at least 20 percent of their units to affordable housing. Earlier this month, it was announced that the stalemate that brought on the developocalpyse, or at least that’s how developers understood it, was over. As the state legislature now mulls over whether to approve the reauthorization of 421-a, City Council members are seeking ways to fix it, and make sure the program fulfills its original mission of creating affordable housing.
Affordable housing advocates protesting Brooklyn Real Estate Summit last fall, 421-a was among their many greivances (Photo: Nicole Disser)
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 the Chinatown coalition’s meeting (Photo: Anneke Rautenbach)
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.”
A protestor at a rally at the Great Hall at Cooper Union in June 2015. (Photo by Sam Gillette)
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.