The Daily Dirt: Affordable housing in 2021

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

TRD New York /
Jun.June 30, 2020 07:00 PM
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Mayor Bill de Blasio (Getty)

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Mayor Bill de Blasio (Getty)

It’s budget day!

Elected officials and observers today were, understandably, focused on what the city plans to do about the NYPD. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he and the City Council agreed to shift $1 billion (though there’s a dispute on how much of that represents true cuts) from the NYPD toward youth services as well as public housing.

But the budget also slashed the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s capital budget by 40 percent. Some have estimated that these cuts will delay financing for more than 21,000 affordable housing units.

During a press conference Tuesday, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson noted that the budget deal “saved a lot of initiatives that have to do with housing” outside HPD’s capital budget, including partial restoration of the agency’s landlord ambassador program and funding for legal services for certain tenants facing eviction.

The budget includes $3.2 million for HPD’s foreclosure prevention programs, $650,000 for tenant legal services and $637,000 for a community land trust initiative that encourages local nonprofits to buy property to ensure housing on it remains affordable long-term.

Housing advocates called for $1.5 million to be dedicated to the land trust program, City Limits reported last week. Even with $1.5 million, the city would need an infusion of state and federal funds to make community land trusts a mainstream option.

In a statement, Jolie Milstein, president and CEO of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing, said the cuts to HPD’s capital budget “cast serious doubts on the city’s commitment to solving our housing crisis.”

“We must now work to immediately fill these gaps with federal and state funding in order to provide New Yorkers with the affordable homes they deserve,” she said. Her group represents developers of affordable housing.

It doesn’t look like the city’s land-use review process will resume any time soon.

According to the New York Post, City Hall is holding off on restarting the land-use review process known as Ulurp. The de Blasio administration is expected to make an announcement on that later this summer. Deputy Mayor Vicki Been indicated at an industry panel last week that she’s still trying to work out technical challenges in shifting proceedings online.

It’s not exactly clear why Ulurp hearings can’t easily be held over Zoom or other video services. The City Council has been holding its hearings online, and the Rent Guidelines Board streamed all its meetings and votes on YouTube. But in the lead-up to RGB hosting remote proceedings, some tenant advocates voiced concern that members of the community — without access to the necessary technology to tune in remotely — would be unfairly closed off from the process. Perhaps such concerns are playing a role in delaying Ulurp as well.

“The Ulurp process has many stakeholders, including 59 community boards,” City Planning’s Joe Marvilli told me in an email. “We’re working closely with all stakeholders to make sure we meet their needs for a consistent and reliable resumption of public review. We will have more information available in the next few weeks on our plans to resume public review in the late summer.”

What we’re thinking about: What’s next for Katerra? Send a note to [email protected].

CLOSING TIME

Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Tuesday was for a condo unit at 120 East 87th Street on the Upper East Side, at $4 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for an apartment building at 94-45 86th Road in Queens, at $4.5 million.

BREAKING GROUND

The largest new building filing of the day was for a 132,313-square-foot residential building at 86-15 Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst, Queens. James Pi of Pi Capital filed the permit application.

NEW TO THE MARKET

The priciest residential listing to hit the market was for a condo unit at 100 Eleventh Avenue in Chelsea, Manhattan, at $19.95 million. Compass has the listing. — Research by Orion Jones

A thing we’ve learned…

Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell founded Chuck E. Cheese. He apparently launched “Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre” in 1977, according to Fast Company. Thank you to Yoryi DeLaRosa for this tidbit.

Elsewhere in New York

— During the pandemic, the MTA suspended fare collection on buses. The agency says it will soon need to start charging again, Gothamist reports. “We have to make sure we’re balancing safety with collecting fares,” said Sarah Feinberg, interim president of New York City Transit. “But starting in August, at some point we’re going to start opening that fare box again.”

— The NYC Board of Elections won’t start counting absentee ballots in the congressional and state primaries for another week, Politico New York reports. “Our staff in the boroughs are working diligently to organize all of this paper so that when the process commences it will commence in an orderly fashion,” said board executive director Michael Ryan. “If we have to sacrifice speed for accuracy, we will always err on the side of accuracy and not give into the pressure to speed things up. Because speeding things up can lead to errors and errors lead to undermining confidence in the elections process and perhaps an unfair result.”

— Despite budget cuts, the city plans to spend $62 million on new ferries, the New York Post reports. The boats were originally ordered in 2019, but the city went through with the purchase after the pandemic hit.


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