The Real Deal New York

Quinn approved funds for nonprofit that backs her affordable housing plan

April 16, 2013 10:00AM

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s affordable housing proposal – a key component of her mayoral pitch – is being supported by a nonprofit housing advocate group that Quinn granted funds to for three consecutive years, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Quinn’s plan calls for 80,000 new low-cost apartments that could remain permanently below market-rate.

The plan has been resisted by many housing advocate groups, who argue that it would impede building financing and result in a lower number of affordable units. But the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, which Quinn has approved $100,000 in city funds for in each of the past three years, has taken up her mantle, producing a series of reports about the benefits of permanently affordable housing.

A contract with the city stipulates that the association — a registered lobbyist — must use the money to “convince the state and city to incorporate permanent affordability” into government housing policy, which is what Quinn is pushing for in her candidature.

Civic groups told the Journal that the arrangement was an unusual one. “It’s not typical of discretionary-funding projects to have a more advocacy angle, said Rachael Fauss of Citizens Union, a nonprofit group that observes city and state budgets. “What’s different is that this is for advocacy more than for direct services.”

Benjamin Dulchin, the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development’s executive director, defended the move to the Journal, while adding that the money would also be used for policy research. “Putting a position out there is what we do,” Dulchin said. “We are proud of the fact that we took permanent affordability from a pipe dream to something that people saw as realistic and implementable.”

Most government subsidies for the city’s privately built affordable housing have a 30-year expiration date. Quinn’s plan would push the state to create a new city affordable housing tax credit and require developers who receive it to renew the affordable aspects of their buildings every 30 years. [WSJ]Hiten Samtani