Thanks to some high-level maneuvering between feuding leaders, New York City is set to increase its capacity to build affordable housing.
Last Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the state would grant $300 million in bonds to build or refurbish low- and moderate-income housing. The governor’s okay raised the city’s 2016 tax-exempt bond capacity to $771 million, the largest increase 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.”
In another instance of state-city tensions, the state, per federal law, controls bond capacity, and that control has escalated tensions in the perpetual rivalry between Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Yesterday, though, the mayor’s administration got to celebrate.
“This funding is critical to keeping our affordable housing engine in high gear,” de Blasio spokeswoman Melissa Grace told the Daily News. “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.”
Last year, the state gave the city $694 million in bond capacity, which was less than the city expected and delayed construction of affordable units, the mayor said.
Friday’s announcement comes on top of last week’s deal between the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and the Building and Construction Trades Council that seems set to revive 421-a (even after they temporarily reneged over a misunderstanding on the agreement’s wage rates). Although housing advocates say the new exemption could cost New York billions in lost revenue each year, REBNY says the housing tax credit is essential to building affordable housing in the city.