City could end up in court over “cluster site” takeover plan

Rent Stabilization Association has already voiced fierce opposition to initiative, which could use eminent domain

Dec.December 14, 2017 10:30 AM

Joseph Strasburg and Bill de Blasio

Turns out not everyone is a fan of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to help nonprofits buy the city’s cluster site buildings, whether the landlords want to sell or not.

Rent Stabilization Association president Joseph Strasburg has criticized the plan as “unfeasible, impractical and unsustainable,” and his group could decide to take the mayor to court over it, according to Politico.

De Blasio announced on Tuesday that the city would start negotiating with about 30 owners of cluster sites—private apartments set aside for the homeless—as part of a plan to have nonprofits take over the buildings, fix them up and turn them into affordable housing units. The mayor said the city is willing to use eminent domain against landlords who do not cooperate with the program.

Social Services Commissioner Steve Banks and de Blasio both maintain the city is within its rights to pursue eminent domain under the program since they would be doing so to create more affordable housing, a public good. The city has not disclosed what buildings they are targeting or how much they would be willing to pay for them.

Christine Fazio, an adjunct law professor at Fordham University, told Politico she believes the city is on solid legal ground with eminent domain as well.

“Municipalities do use eminent domain for public purposes, particularly for urban renewal, urban development, economic development and, if there is a failure to negotiate a price, then municipalities do have a right to seek the property through eminent domain,” she said. “It’s constitutional under the law.” [Politico]Eddie Small

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