The Real Deal New York

City Council report blasts Cuomo’s housing bonds proposal

Officials say additional approvals could cost time, money

March 14, 2016 04:00PM


From left: Ritchie Torres (Credit: Brian Frinke) and Andrew Cuomo

The City Council took aim at Gov. Andrew Cuomo, releasing a scathing report that says he’s purposely making it more difficult for the city to finance the construction of affordable housing with federal tax-exempt bonds.

“As far as we can tell, the governor’s proposal has nothing resembling a rational basis in public policy: it amounts to little more than an exercise of raw political power over the city,” reads the report, entitled “Playing Politics With Affordable Housing.”

Under Cuomo’s plan, the Public Authorities Control Board, a state body, would have to approve all projects funded through federal tax-exempt bonds. The bonds fund a good portion of the city’s affordable housing — about 17,000 of the 40,000 units built over the past two years. The Empire State Development Corporation would also have veto power over some projects.

City officials say the additional two layers of approvals could hamper the process for building affordable housing as well as increase costs, the New York Daily News reported. The report said the additional oversight was completely unnecessary.

The Council’s minority caucus authored the report, which said the plan would disproportionately hurt black, Latino and Asian neighborhoods. In 2016, $1.2 billion in affordable housing developments would have to go through the extra step for approval, according to the Daily News.

A spokesperson for Cuomo told the Daily News that talks remain ongoing, and “everything is still on the table and the state is discussing several options.”

Last year, New York state denied extending privileges to the city to issue about $150 million in federal tax-exempt bonds. Affordable housing advocates pointed to Cuomo’s contentious relationship with Mayor Bill de Blasio as the reason.

New York Housing Commissioner Vicki Been called the proposed allocation process a “poison pill.” [NYDN]Dusica Sue Malesevic