A hearing yesterday on the renewal of the 421-a Property Tax
Exemption Program — which gives tax breaks to developers who build
affordable housing — got heated, the Observer reported. Assembly
member Vito Lopez, chair of the state Assembly’s housing committee,
brought five witnesses to testify in support of the tax credit program.
Lopez strongly criticized Brooklyn’s “gold coast” in Williamsburg and
pushed for the required percentage of affordable housing in new
buildings to be increased to 30 percent, from the current 20 percent.
Council member Stephen Levin agreed with Lopez, saying, “We do not need
any more luxury housing built without paying property taxes.” Michael
Slattery, senior vice president of the Real Estate Board of New York,
said that an additional cut to developers’ tax burdens was the only way
to get them to build more affordable housing. However, Rafael Cestero,
commissioner for the city Department of Housing Preservation and
Development, expressed more tempered support of the program’s renewal,
saying it was “just one tool in the toolbox to create affordable