New Yorkers today – both homeowners and renters – are spending record proportions of their income on housing. Spending half of your income or more on housing is not sustainable over the long run, which makes the cost of housing a very real threat to our quality of life.
Since taking office in January 2006, the Borough President has undertaken a number of activities aimed at preserving existing affordable housing stock for the long term, and encouraging new affordable development. These include:
Exploring Land Value Taxation: A Tax Policy to Fit NYC’s Development Priorities? a policy breakfast on the concept of Land Value Taxation, how it has worked in other cities, and how it might be used to encourage the development of more housing in New York City.
Work with New York State Assemblyman Herman (Denny) Farrell and State Senator Jose Serrano to introduce legislation in
(A.8666 / S.6207) that would end the special tax break for owners of vacant lots above Albany 110th Streetin . Manhattan
No Vacancy? – The Role of Underutilized Properties in Meeting Manhattan’s Affordable Housing Needs a report on the first-ever borough-wide survey of vacant properties in
, which was conducted by the Borough President’s office in collaboration with the nonprofit group Picture the Homeless. The survey identified enough undeveloped space in Manhattan alone to build almost 24,000 housing units. The Borough President is currently promoting a plan for Manhattan to conduct regular housing counts, as is done in other cities, and legislative and policy changes that would encourage the use of this available space for the construction of affordable housing. New York City
A conference on Mitchell-Lama housing held in collaboration with the Mitchell-Lama Residents Coalition. Over 700 residents attended this strategy session focused on preserving currently existing affordable housing units.
Regular monthly Mitchell-Lama Task Force meetings with residents and advocates. For a calendar of meetings, click here.
Ongoing Issues of Concern
The Mitchell-Lama housing program began in the 1950s and was wildly successful, creating affordable homes for thousands of middle-income New Yorkers, encouraging them to stay in the city and to raise their families here. Now, decades later, Mitchell Lama owners have the option of buying out of the program and, due to the extreme profits that can produce and lax enforcement of buy-out requirements by the State,
Several pieces of State legislation have been introduced with the Borough President’s support that would protect and preserve Mitchell-Lama housing, including: A.795 / S.4250, which would place all developments that buy out of the program into New York’s Rent Stabilization program; A.352 / S.5245, which would prohibit Mitchell-Lama building owners from applying for “unique or peculiar circumstance” rent increases as a result of buying out of the program; and A.353 / S.4208, which would stop people who no longer live in the developments and who are illegally subletting their apartments from using proxies to vote for a buyout.
To provide a forum for Mitchell-Lama residents, Borough President Stringer hosts a Mitchell-Lama Task Force on the second Tuesday of each month at Task Force meetings are open to all current and former Mitchell-Lama residents and advocates. To receive notice of the meetings, please submit your name, development or affiliation, and email address here.
Vacancy rates throughout the city are dangerously low and are predicted to fall even farther. The number of families living in over-crowded housing has nearly doubled, with 10.2 percent of all rental housing considered overcrowded. The number of homeless families receiving temporary shelter each night continues to increase despite recent changes by the administration disqualifying some families, a change that the Borough President opposes. In 2006 the number of homeless New Yorkers in shelters increased by more than 11 percent, with the number of homeless families alone increasing almost 18 percent. The number of homeless children, who are always the largest share of homeless New Yorkers, increased by more than 18 percent. This year the number of homeless
Despite the city’s affordable housing crisis, each year the Rent Guidelines Board approves increases for rent-stabilized tenants, while every other year brings staggeringly high increases for rent-controlled tenants. Continued increases in the face of the city’s housing statistics run contrary to the goal of rent-regulation.
A moratorium should be placed on rent increases in rent-regulated housing.
The negative impact of high rent increases does not end with an individual tenant. Each increase also brings the apartment closer to permanent deregulation. Since 1994, nearly 61,000 rent-stabilized units have been lost due to High Rent/Vacancy Decontrol. As New Yorkers are painfully aware, $2,000 is no longer “high rent” in
As the federal government continues to cut funding for public housing, cities are dissolving their public housing programs. Despite increasing expenses and decreasing government support, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) remains committed to the continuation of public housing. However, since 2001 NYCHA has faced significant budget gaps, yet not until 2006 did the agency put forth a strategic plan to address its long-term fiscal imbalance. While many aspects of the plan, such as enhanced energy management and long-term electricity purchasing, are positive, others attempt to save money by shifting costs to public housing residents. For example, despite protests from residents and advocates, NYCHA increased fees and ceiling rents in 2006. The agency also applied to the federal government to use Section 8 monies, which are set aside to subsidize apartments for low income residents, to instead pay for operating costs for 8,400 City- and State-constructed units for which the federal government does not provide operating funds. The Borough President opposes this proposal, which would set a dangerous precedent and result in a net loss of affordable housing.
Additionally, for a number of years the City and State have failed to fully fund the operating costs of units built with City and State financing—adding greatly to NYCHA’s deficit.
Office of Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer • 212.669.8300
1 Centre Street, 19th Floor • New York, NY 10007 • © Copyright 2006
The Manhattan Borough President’s Office is an Equal Opportunity Employer.