Labor unions lobby to overhaul 421a tax program

Rent regulation laws are set to expire on June 15, unless the State Legislature acts
May 05, 2015 12:05PM

Labor unions and contractors are lobbying to overhaul the 421a tax abatement program to guarantee higher wages for construction workers and help create more affordable housing.

The campaign, known as Up4NYC, is intended as the start of a discussion about housing laws as the State Legislature will decide what to do with rent stabilization laws that are set to expire on June 15, according to the New York Times.

“It is not acceptable for developers to get a billion-dollar-a-year tax break while paying workers low wages and creating little to no affordable housing,” Paul Fernandes, executive director of the New York City and Vicinity Carpenters Labor Management Corporation, an organization of unions and contractors told the newspaper. “These are public dollars, and we need to demand much better accountability and results.”

Fernandes told the New York Times that he and his allies are looking to reach a middle ground: in return for tax breaks, developers will have to set aside more than 20 percent for affordable units.

Tenant advocates have been strongly opposing the tax abatement program, which is widely used by the city’s developers. The 421-a program provides tax breaks for developers who provide affordable housing as part of their newly constructed buildings. Mayor Bill de Blasio is in favor of stronger rent regulations, the Times reported, and will introduce a legislative proposal next week. [NYT] — Claire Moses