One of the many programs that passed earlier this week as part of the massive state budget was a renewal of a tax abatement for developers known as 421-a. The program has been rebranded the Affordable New York Housing program, but critics are not sold on the plan. State House Reporter Zack Fink has the story.
Once known as 421-a, the "Affordable New York Housing Program" provides a tax abatement for developers to build new housing.
But it's still unclear how much of that housing stock will be deemed "affordable."
Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the issue during his weekly radio interview Friday on WNYC.
"The plan that was finally passed was a lot better than the old 421-a," de Blasio said in the phone interview. "I think the big answer here to what's happened over these last few years is that we had a big fight."
"I'm very proud of the fact that we started the action by saying, 'We're no longer going to support any 421-a plan that finances luxury condos.'"
For the first time, developers will be required to pay prevailing wages to their construction workers — $65 an hour for buildings in Manhattan.
"It leads to a whole series of spiraling of additional different demands for having worker protections built in to everything the city and the state does," said John Goering of Baruch College. "So it's a bad precedent."
To determine whether the program is working, the new law commissions a study.
"By the time the program gets to sunset in 2022, DHCR — Department of Housing and Community Renewal — will be put in charge to create a study to determine in real time the level of affordability that is being created, and whether it is keeping up," said Brooklyn State Assemblyman Walter Mosley.
State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie wanted the new law to expire at the same time rent protections do. It was a battle the speaker had with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but lost.
"He did, but I think this was something that the governor's office wanted to make sure that they were separate and apart," Mosley responded.
Some believe it is hard to measure whether the program has even been effective.
"Basically, we have lost track of the original purpose of the tax abatement program, which was to stimulate development on unused land when the city was bankrupt in the 70s," Goering said.
The New York Affordable Housing Program proved to be a major sticking point during budget negotiations, although it did not receive nearly the same amount as attention as other issues such as raising the age of criminal liability to 18 in New York.