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Know Your Rights
Source: Politico
Subject: Housing & Environmental Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Advocacy Groups Call for New Affordable Housing Approach from Next Mayor

A new report from a slate of left-leaning advocacy groups calls for a future mayor to “shake up” the city’s approach to affordable housing — including moving away from working with for-profit developers and pushing to end the 421-a tax abatement.

Details: With the mayor and a majority of the City Council slated to turn over in the next year, the coalition behind the report — which includes advocacy groups and non-profit developers — seeks to guide the future mayor, Council and other city officials in how they handle the continued crises around housing affordability, homelessness and public housing.

Organizations involved in drafting the report include the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development, the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, New York Communities for Change, as well as nonprofit developers RiseBoro Community Partnership and MHANY Management.

Their proposals include establishing greater reliance on nonprofit developers in affordable housing programs, and requiring publicly owned sites be developed by “mission-driven, not-for-profit and/or community controlled developers” into 100 percent income-restricted housing.

The groups argue nonprofit developers “most often keep revenue in the community, often in the form of direct service delivery” and are “more likely to build more deeply affordable housing and keep it in their portfolios for longer, if not in perpetuity.”

The report also calls for the city to “invest in subsidies over tax breaks,” proposing the city create an ongoing rental assistance program for tenants and explore financing the program “by working with the State to end tax breaks for developers, such as the 421-a tax exemption.”

Additionally, the report proposes a capital allocation of at least $2 billion a year to NYCHA, for which it suggests the city could work with the state to implement new taxes, among other revenue streams. It also calls for an “end to policies that require disposition of NYCHA property to private developers.”

Key context: The report echoes longstanding criticisms of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s housing program, including that his plan has been too focused on hitting a large number goal and generated too few very-low income housing units. Critics have also argued the administration has failed to adequately incorporate NYCHA and homelessness into its affordable housing policies.

To help remedy this, the groups propose establishing a new deputy mayor for homelessness, housing and planning to better integrate these issues.

Other priorities include establishing a comprehensive planning framework for land use decisions (legislation that would accomplish this was recently introduced in the Council), a requirement that a racial impact study accompany rezonings, and an end to the city’s annual tax lien sale.

“We are done settling for bits and pieces, when what we need is a commitment to achieving the real goals — an end to homelessness, and safe, secure, affordable housing for all — in every facet of agency policy and budget prioritization,” Barika Williams, executive director of ANHD, said in a statement.