The Real Deal New York

Cuomo’s plan on housing bonds is a “poison pill”: Been

Governor's office said the proposal -- which would add two new layers of regulation to process -- may be altered

March 04, 2016 08:00AM

A rendering of the Crossings in Jamaica (inset: Andrew Cuomo and Vicki Been)

A rendering of the Crossings in Jamaica (inset: Andrew Cuomo and Vicki Been)

New York Housing Commissioner Vicki Been blasted a proposal floated in January by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to change the way the state allocates federal tax-exempt bonds for projects in the city.

Been defended the existing system and called the proposal – which would add two new layers to the bond allocation approval process — a “poison pill.”

A spokesperson for Cuomo suggested in response that the state may alter its plan, Politico reported.

Cuomo’s plan would require all projects funded through the bonds – known as “volume cap” or “bond cap” – to be approved by the Public Authorities Control Board, a state body. It would also grant veto power over a large number of projects to the state-controlled Empire State Development Corporation.

The bonds pay for a large chunk of the city’s affordable development. They contributed to about 17,000 of the 40,000 affordable units built by the city over the last two years.

“We could be two years into working through a project,” Been said, “and at the last minute the Public Authorities Control Board, one member, could say, ‘I don’t approve that project.’”

Dani Lever, speaking for Cuomo, held out the possibility of a compromise.

“Talks with the Legislature regarding this proposal are ongoing,” Lever said in a statement, according to Politico. “Everything is still on the table and the state is discussing several options, including certain exemptions or thresholds for size of projects, issuing agencies or specific regions.”

The fight is just part of the larger battle between the de Blasio and Cuomo administrations. Cuomo’s plan, Politico reported, citing sources familiar with administration’s thinking, represents an attempt to punish de Blasio perceived past slights.

Been also said the Cuomo’s office is holding up projects that would create 1,200 new affordable units in the city, including at the Crossings in Jamaica, where the city is building 480 units. [Politico]Ariel Stulberg

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