The Daily Dirt: State budget talks take off

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

New York /
Mar.March 15, 2021 08:35 PM

And they’re off! The Senate and Assembly have unveiled their budget proposals.

Though the governor largely controls the budget process, the one-house budgets provide a snapshot of the legislature’s priorities going into negotiations. What these proposals tell us is that neither chamber likes the governor’s proposed workaround for the city’s building emissions cap caw. Such a measure is absent from both bills.

The proposals do call for a bunch of taxes on wealthy New Yorkers to raise north of $7 billion. The Assembly bill includes a dreaded (by the industry) pied-à-terre tax.

The legislature’s proposals include another $400 million in rent aid. The Senate’s bill includes language from a measure sponsored by Sen. Brian Kavanagh and Assembly member Steven Cymbrowitz covering rental arrears for up to 15 months.

The program would prioritize tenants earning less than 50 percent of the area median income and those who are unemployed. The state could also give preference to people who were facing eviction on or before Feb. 1, tenants who apply jointly with their landlord, certain mobile home residents and victims of domestic violence.

It is unclear how the governor’s weakened political position, given calls for his resignation and investigations into sexual harassment allegations, will affect budget talks. Just over two weeks remain before the April 1 deadline.

Eighty-eight landlords and residential brokerages face allegations that they discriminated against tenants bearing Section 8 vouchers.

Housing Rights Initiative filed a lawsuit against the landlords and firms — which include Compass, Corcoran and a Century 21 franchise office in Manhattan — based on an undercover investigation, the New York Times reports.

According to the lawsuit, dozens of conversations were secretly recorded between undercover investigators posing as prospective tenants. In many cases, the landlords and brokers allegedly declined to show apartments once the investigator mentioned Section 8 vouchers.

The state passed a law in 2019 barring lawful income-based discrimination in most types of housing (exceptions were made for one- and two-family homes where the owner lives on the premises and for senior housing). The city has barred such discrimination in housing with six or more units since 2008. That law was expanded effective Feb. 15 to cover properties with three or more units.

Several of the mayoral hopefuls have stressed the need to expand the voucher program to address the city’s shortage of affordable housing.

What we’re thinking about: Are changes needed to the Section 8 voucher program to prevent housing discrimination? What changes should New York enact to protect tenants from income-based discrimination? Send a note to [email protected].

CLOSING TIME

Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Monday was for a condo unit at 37 East 12th Street in Greenwich Village at $15.5 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for a mixed-use building at 753 Ninth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen at $6.3 million.

BREAKING GROUND

There were no new building filings today.

NEW TO THE MARKET

The priciest residence to hit the market was a co-op unit at 730 Park Avenue in Lenox Hill at $38.5 million. Corcoran has the listing.

—Research by Orion Jones

A thing we’ve learned…

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the residential rent in the New York metro area increased 0.8 percent in February from the same month last year. This represented the smallest annual increase seen since 1958. Thank you to Erik Engquist for this factoid.

Elsewhere in New York

— The state Assembly is hiring an outside law firm to help with its impeachment investigation, Politico New York reports. Speaker Carl Heastie said an announcement on the hiring would be made this week. As to how long the investigation will last, Heastie didn’t offer any guesses but said “a decision in a week or two weeks or a month would be unfair to the process of an investigation.”

— The city has canceled most high school Regents exams this year, Chalkbeat reports. Because the Biden administration declined to cancel standardized tests this spring and summer, NYC decided to call off exams that aren’t federally required. Students will still have to take tests in Algebra I, English, living environment and earth science.

— On Wednesday certain public-facing and nonprofit employees will be eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine. That will mean that roughly 80 percent of the state’s adult population will be eligible, The Times Union reports.


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