Real Estate Industry Joins 421a Air War
From today’s Morning Memo:
With the clock ticking in Albany and the rent laws set to expire next month, a new coalition led by downstate real estate interests is launching a multimillion dollar campaign in favor of a “revised” version of the controversial 421a tax abatement program it insists will result in more affordable housing in New York City.
The Affordable Hosing and Local Jobs Now Coalition’s campaign features a TV ad, which will start airing on broadcast and cable stations in NYC and Albany today, as well as radio and paid digital ads.
The ad, which was made by Global Strategy Group and can be viewed below, slams “special interests” pushing for a “deceptive wage proposal” to be included in 421a that would “stop builders from hiring local workers, severely restricting new affordable housing construction and denying thousands of families a place to call home.”
That’s a reference to the coalition group UP4NYC, formed by labor unions and contractors, which earlier this month launched its own multimillion dollar campaign calling for 421a to be modified to guarantee higher wages for construction workers.
The AFL-CIO recently signed on in support of the prevailing wage push, which is not part of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 421a/affordable housing plan – a fact that puts him at odds with some of his transitional allies in the organized labor movement.
In fact, the Real Estate Board of New York – or REBNY, which is the driving force behind the Affordable Housing and Local Jobs Now Coalition – supports de Blasio’s affordable housing plan, and is calling on Albany lawmakers to approve it before the session’s scheduled end next month.
Members of the new coalition also include the NYS Association for Affordable Housing, the Community Preservation Corporation and the NAACP.
The coalition maintains that the prevailing wage proposal being pushed by UP4NYC would force a 30 percent increase in construction costs, making housing projects in the city too expensive, and resulting in either a reduction of new affordable units by half or a monthly rent increase on units of $400.
“With sky-high land and construction costs, along with the disproportionate tax burden on rental properties, building multi-family rental housing in New York City has become very challenging,” said incoming REBNY President John Banks.
“A revised 421-a program will help address that challenge, leading to the creation of more multi-family affordable rental housing throughout New York City. A prevailing wage requirement for construction will send the City in the opposite direction – leading to less affordable housing and less local employment.”
UP4NYC spokesman Tom Meara responded:
“UP4NYC is committed to improving the lives of working class families. We will not retreat because wealthy special interests are going to advocate to protect their profit model. 421a must be fixed.”
“Public subsidies require public responsibilities. Increase the wage and increase the true number of affordable units anything less is Albany being run by wealthy special interests.”
The ad makes no mention of de Blasio or his plan to reform 421a.
That’s probably smart, given the fact that the mayor is no friend to the Senate GOP, which is closely allied with the real estate industry, thanks to the more than $1.3 million a REBNY-backed PAC spent to help the conference win back the majority last year.
Before leaving Albany for the Memorial Day weekend, the Assembly Democrats passed legislation to extend and strengthen the rent laws. But so far, neither house has taken up the 421a issue.
The program is a bit of a political hot potato these days, thanks to the role it played in the federal corruption scandals that cost both former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos their respective leadership posts.
The Daily News’ Ken Lovett reported yesterday that some Senate Republicans are leery of the usual horse-trading required to create the end-of-session “Big Ugly” – the yard ball of unrelated deals that traditionally closes out the season in Albany.
According to Lovett, the lawmakers don’t want to do anything that further sparks the interest of corruption-busting US Attorney Preet Bharara – and that includes cutting deals on anything to do with rent control and 421a.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on May 26, 2015 at 7:35 am, and is filed under Downstate NY. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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