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Cuomo Allocates $300M for NYC’s Affordable Housing Projects

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“Homelessness is exploding and affordable housing is all but disappearing,” Cuomo said in a statement. “New York City needs this help from the state which will provide thousands of units of safe, clean, affordable housing and will help alleviate this crisis.”

On Friday November 18th, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo allocated $300 million for the city of New York’s affordable housing projects. This will bring the year’s total of state grants for tax exempt bond capacity to the city up to $771 million, as reported by the Real Deal. The Cuomo administration boasted that this is the most funding provided in a decade.  “Homelessness is exploding and affordable housing is all but disappearing,” Cuomo said in a statement. “New York City needs this help from the state which will provide thousands of units of safe, clean, affordable housing and will help alleviate this crisis.” 

The announcement appeased Mayor Bill de Blasio who in November 2015, claimed NYC received a more minute share of the bonds than it was promised and therefore had to delay construction of certain affordable units.  “This funding is critical to keeping our affordable housing engine in high gear,” said Melissa Grace, spokeswoman for the de Blasio administration. “With so many vital projects lined up — including homes for low-income families and homeless seniors — we are grateful the State is coming forward with this additional $300 million allocation.” As per federal law, the state controls bond capacity, which has led to continuous tension between the Cuomo and de Blasio administrations. As part of his 2016-2017 budget, Cuomo tried to institute greater state control over how the city used the bonds. Those revisions, however, were rejected by state lawmakers, with New York Housing Commissioner Vicki Been calling the proposal  “a poison pill.”  

The $300 million grant couples with other good news this month to put affordable housing back on track. On November 10, the Real Estate Board of New York, and the Building and Construction Trades Council reached an agreement to revive 421a tax breaks for developers. The incentive had expired in June 2015, with negotiations between developers and unions stalled for more than a year. Cuomo attached a required standard wage for construction workers to the bill and in the final agreement, the required average wage for construction workers was set to $60 an hour (including benefits) for Manhattan projects with more than 300 rental units. In Waterfront Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods, the average wage for similar sized projects was set to $45 an hour. In exchange, developers who set aside affordable housing units were rewarded with tax breaks for 35 years, as opposed to 25 years in the previous bill.

By: Roland Kirby  

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