Affordable housing plan reworked for New York
The push and pull between New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, and his archrival, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, surfaced again this week over an issue both men consider key to their administrations: providing affordable housing for New Yorkers.
De Blasio has had a lukewarm response to Cuomo’s version of a plan to revise a programme that encourages the construction of apartments for low- and moderateincome New Yorkers, which is now in the hands of the state legislature. Under 421-a, as the programme is known, developers are given generous New York City tax breaks if they agree to set aside a block of apartments for working-class and middle-class tenants in otherwise market-rate buildings.
Over the last two years, 421-a has had a tortured history. In 2015, with the 421-a programme set to expire at the end of the year unless the Legislature renewed it, de Blasio, a democrat, proposed a revised version that sweetened the subsidy for developers in exchange for the creation of more belowmarket units.
But Cuomo, also a democrat, rejected that version saying that it did not offer wages high enough for union construction workers. The legislature passed a sixmonth extension and called on the real estate industry and construction unions to reach a deal on wages that would allow the abatement to continue. But the two sides could not agree, and the programme died on January 15, 2016. The governor then worked on his own version of the legislation in negotiations with construction unions and the members of the real estate industry’s powerful lobbying group, the Real Estate Board of New York. That version is now under consideration by the legislature.