Quinn’s affordable housing plan denounced as welfare for real estate industry

February 14, 2013 12:30PM

Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn’s affordable housing plan was bound to face criticism. But her plan is especially susceptible since it prominently features a tax subsidy twice proposed and rejected by the Bloomberg administration as unacceptably generous to the real estate industry, according to the New York Times.

Aides to Quinn acknowledged the similarities to the previous affordable housing plans and that the idea had come from the city’s real estate industry, which has been the source of some of Quinn’s biggest campaign donations. However, they also said that Quinn had altered the plan in significant ways.

Quinn’s plan calls for a 30-year cap on real estate taxes for landlords willing to set aside 20 percent of their apartments for below-market rents. Currently, dozens of the city’ major landlords are threatening to withdraw from the affordable housing programs, including 80/20 and 421-A tax abatements, and Quinn argued that a new tax cap would encourage property owners to keep their rents low.

“Good ideas can come from just about anybody,” Quinn said in an interview on Wednesday when pressed about the real estate industry’s role in forming her plan. “If you are a housing organizer not willing to talk to landlords and developers, in addition to tenants, what are you getting done?”

However, city developers and landlords under the umbrella of the Real Estate Board of New York have long pushed for a real estate tax cap, guaranteeing a discounted and predictable long-term tax bill. [NYT]Christopher Cameron