The Real Deal New York

NY state denied city $150M in federal housing bonds in 2015

After the subsidies went unused, advocates point to Cuomo-de Blasio relationship

February 22, 2016 03:23PM

From left: Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio

From left: Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio

Did 1,200 affordable housing units of shovel-ready projects go unfunded because of the ongoing dispute between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio?

That’s what affordable housing advocates are claiming after numbers released this month revealed Albany finished 2015 with significantly more unused borrowing authority to hand out than usual.

New York state denied extending privileges to the city to issue about $150 million in federal tax-exempt bonds, claiming the bonds were needed elsewhere.

The de Blasio administration then delayed plans to build 1,200 affordable units, Crain’s reported.

Here’s how it happened (you may want to create a flow chart): The state had nearly $2 billion in tax-exempt bonds last year. In accordance to state law, it distributes a specified amount to the city. The city then must negotiate for additional funds.

In May, the state signaled to the city that it might receive an additional $785 million by the close of 2015. So when the calendar turned, city officials were stunned that only $595 million was made available, the lowest sum in years. All of this while $494 million in bonds had gone unallocated (the state attributes about half of this to an upstate project being canceled), 50 percent more than usual.

The combination of nearly $500 million in bonds not being distributed and Albany’s claim that it didn’t have enough in November to fund the 1,200 affordable units has thrown city officials and housing advocates into a tizzy.

Cuomo and de Blasio have squabbled over issues such as affordable housing and homelessness. The bonds for the 1,200 units of affordable housing will be allocated for 2016, Crain’s reported. [Crain’s]Dusica Sue Malesevic

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